“Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism” Exhibition

CUNY Graduate Center/ The James Gallery

poster for “Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism” Exhibition
[Image: ©In the studio of the Daina Dagnija, with her painting "Immigrants". Photographer: unknown. 1967. Private collection.]

This event has ended.

The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with the James Gallery at the Graduate Center CUNY and the Polish Cultural Institute NY present:
Group Exhibition Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism at The CUNY Graduate Center. Curated by Inga Lace, Katherine Carl, Andra Silapetere and Solvita Krese, the exhibit is a part of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art four-year project “Portable Landscapes,” which begins with the stories of the exiled, émigré Latvian artists of the Hell’s Kitchen collective, and extends into contemporary international artistic voices, locating all within broader context of the context of 20th century art history, and wider processes of migration and globalization.

The exhibition program developed in collaboration with the James Gallery, brings to the foreground exiled Latvian artists’ and writers’ collective which was active in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City from the 1950s through the 1970s. Through examination of the artistic and political expressions of refugee artists, who in result of the 1944 Soviet occupation were forced into exile, the diverse multimedia narratives unfold both past and present processes of crossing borders and traversing territories.

Departing from the Hell’s Kitchen collective, the exhibition highlights personalities and artistic phenomena that have resulted from migration, bringing forward a web of lesser known stories of individual artists and collaborators who played supporting roles in, but also worked to diversify and challenge, the overarching art historical narrative. In addition to pursuing these stories with the help of archival material, historical works of art and artefacts, the exhibition also includes works by contemporary artists including the Polish artist, Karol Radziszewski, working on the themes of cultural displacement and its attendant questions. Emphasizing the importance of diversity, different modernisms and alternative undercurrents to main narratives, the exhibition suggests that both present and history are living processes in a constant state of change.

Exhibition Portable Landscapes: Memories and Imaginaries of Refugee Modernism at the James Gallery is the last exhibition in the series of the exhibition and research projects Portable Landscapes that took place starting 2017 with exhibitions at: Villa Vassilieff, Paris (2018), Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga (2018), Körsbärsgården Konsthall, Gotland (2018) and District, Berlin (2019). The project’s culmination is planned in spring 2020 when Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art together with Berlin based publisher K.Verlag will launch a book “Portable Landscapes: Art Histories of Latvian Exile”, that views together all the project’s stories.



from November 19, 2019 to February 15, 2020

Opening Reception on 2019-11-19 from 18:00 to 20:00

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