Contemporary Utopia

LCCA international project and exhibition.


The LCCA international project and exhibition "Contemporary Utopia" took place in Riga at the Exhibition Hall "Arsenāls" of the State Museum of Art and the Eduards Smiļģis Theatre Museum, from April 5th to May 20th 2001. The author of the concept and curator of the exhibition was Frank Wagner, German curator who has organised many significant contemporary art projects in Berlin and across Western Europe.


The Contemporary image of utopia has been greatly influenced by the mediation of information through film and mass media. Therefore, one can see references to contemporary media and mass culture's popular images and situations in many of the works included in the exhibition. "Contemporary Utopia" is an investigation/show of independent film and visual arts' reciprocal influences and points of contact. The project's main theme is reflection on the feasibility of utopia on a global and personal level. The reference point in the development of "Contemporary Utopia" is Michelangelo Antonioni's film "Zabriskie Point" (1969-1970). The film has had a considerable influence on many avant-garde artists, particularly its closing scene, when a series of explosions occur - the annihilation of accepted values and the return to zero, the starting point. Absolute freedom as a metaphor for decades has been a source of inspiration and an introduction to the theme of the polarities of utopia and distopia in contemporary society and art, searching for parallels with images of contemporary visual culture.


Artists from eight countries took part in "Contemporary Utopia": Latvia, Germany, Canada, the United States, Austria, Great Britain, France and Australia. Among the 22 artists from abroad there were both internationally recognised authors, who have influenced the direction of contemporary art in the eighties and nineties, as well as artists of younger generation:

Art in Ruins, Bettina Allamoda, Julie Ault + Martin Beck, D-L Alvarez, Mike Ballou, Marc Brandenburg, Stan Douglas, Dominic Eichler, Valie EXPORT, Liam Gillick, Rainer Kamlah, Lovett/Codagnone, Loring McAlpin, Michaela Melian, Piotr Nathan, Natacha Nisič, Erik Schmidt, Katharina Sieverding, Wolfgang Tillmans, Mina Totino.
Among participants of "Contemporary Utopia" there were also twelve artists from Latvia: Ēriks Božis, Dace Džeriņa, Miķelis Fišers, Andris Frīdbergs Gints Gabrāns, Kristaps Ģelzis, Andris Grīnbergs, Anta Pence + Dita Pence, Monika Pormale, Ieva Rubeze, Anita Zabiļevska.

The exhibition catalogue in Latvian and English contained a section dedicated to each exhibiting artist with colour images and a textual section with texts by Diedrich Diederichsen, Frank Wagner, Helēna Demakova, Kaspars Vanags and Māra Traumane.

Within the framework of the project, lectures by international art theoreticians and artists were held at the Goethe Institute.

Opening, Lecture and Performance Program
05.04.01. 17.45 Opening at the Exhibition Hall Arsenals and Theatre Museum
17.45 - 18.10. Performance by D-L Alvarez
21.00 Film: "Zabriskie Point" in Riga cinema
22.30. Party in Riga cinema + reception
22.55 "50/50", performance by Lovett/Codagnone
24.00 "Unlimited Travel 2001", performance by Bettina Allamoda
06.04.01. 18.00 VALIE EXPORT "Ob/De+Con(Struction)", lecture at Goethe Institute
20.00 TALK SHOW with Corinna Weidner. Guests: Erik Schmidt and Kaspars Vanags, at Goethe Institute
07.04.01. 14.00 Stan Douglas lecture at Goethe Instiute
16.00 Robert A.Haller "Jim Davis and the Forces of Energy", lecture at Goethe Institute
18.00 Katharina Sieverding lecture at Goethe Instiute
12.04.01 17.00 Diedrich Diederichsen "Psychedelic Critique", lecture at Goethe Instiute

Mass media about "Contemporary Utopia"

Buševica, Anda. Friendly and Quiet Utopia of Contemporary Art [Interview with Frank Wagner] // Studija, 2001. No. 16. Pp. 7 - 8 (Translations).

"Contemporary Utopia" has been made possible in collaboration with the Latvian Ministry of Culture, Riga City Council, Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia, Latvian Culture Foundation, The Austrian Embassy, The Goethe Institute, The British Council.



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