Summer School Communicating Difficult Pasts

Kuldīga, 2–7 August 2019

Deadline for applications: 3 June.

MA and PhD humanities students, as well as early-career artists, art historians, curators and cultural studies researchers are welcome to apply.

We live in a time of increasing violence, which is gender, community and class based. These aspects need to be considered in order to understand its operation, while finding ways to communicate both past and present violence has become pertinent for understanding contemporary societies. This year’s Summer School programme will explore the complexities of communicating the 20th-century past, and analyse how art and culture can advance debates and thus influence current realities.

For the sixth year the Summer School of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) is held in cooperation with Kuldīga Artist Residency, the Art Academy of Latvia and the Estonian Academy of Arts. The Summer School continues to draw on developments in critical thinking, artistic research and creative practices related to actual debates in contemporary culture. This year its central theme will be how violent pasts remain with us and how contemporary artistic research and curatorial projects have found ways to mediate their different dimensions. Our programme will bring together interdisciplinary scholars, artists and curators who have analysed the contemporary legacies of the Second World War and related them to Cold War and postcolonial frameworks.

Difficult knowledge (Roger Simon, Erica Lehrer) and difficult heritage (Sharon MacDonald) offer important perspectives to traumatic and long-silenced histories and modes of their remembering. These discourses bring themes which are often invisible or marginalised in public knowledge. Artists and scholars engaging with these subjects confront the increasingly prevailing representations of selective memory, which by rejecting particular experiences, ignore difficult history. The mediations of difficult pasts we will touch upon concern violent conflicts and traumatic losses, their afterlives in personal experiences, the lives of communities owing to forced migration and deportation, subjugation of indigenous people, practices of exclusion and othering of communities. In the workshops we will consider how could more complex and layered histories be told that complement disputed pasts with new perspectives, in ways that combine critical consciousness with empathic understanding and how could violent histories be narrated in ethical and audience-conscious ways. 

The Summer School Communicating Difficult Pasts will focus on the uneasy relations between pasts and presents, their entangled nature in the 20th century and the impact that these difficult histories have left to contemporary realities in the Baltic Sea region. Topics such as the legacy of right- and left-wing ideologies and their impact on rising populism, intolerance towards cultural difference and marginalisation of ethnic minorities or queer communities are entangled in the region with histories of the Holocaust, Soviet repressions and colonialisms. These experiences are often addressed, researched and discussed locally or nationally; this Summer School aims at understanding the relationships between these difficult and traumatic pasts and articulating their influences and presence today through the perspective of shared histories. We will consider how to apply intersectionality to thinking about the past and present in the Baltic Sea region. 

The Summer School Communicating Difficult Pasts will focus on the uneasy relations between pasts and presents, their entangled nature in the 20th century and the impact that these difficult histories have left to contemporary realities in the Baltic Sea region. Topics such as the legacy of right- and left-wing ideologies and their impact on rising populism, intolerance towards cultural difference and marginalisation of ethnic minorities or queer communities are entangled in the region with histories of the Holocaust, Soviet repressions and colonialisms. These experiences are often addressed, researched and discussed locally or nationally; this Summer School aims at understanding the relationships between these difficult and traumatic pasts and articulating their influences and presence today through the perspective of shared histories.

Speakers organising workshops and lectures are distinguished thinkers and experts in the fields of visual art, cultural history and theory, as well as memory, feminist and LGBTQ+ studies. They will introduce research and curatorial projects and discuss intersections between minority studies, postcommunist and postcolonial discourses. The speakers include Violeta Davoliūtė, Professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University, Ilya Lensky, Director of the Museum ‘Jews in Latvia’ (tbc), artist Harri Pälviranta from Finland, Adi Kuntsman, Senior Lecturer from the Manchester Metropolitan University and Norwegian-Sami artist Máret Ánne Sara.

The curators of the Summer School programme are Ieva Astahovska and Margaret Tali. 

Participation in the Summer School is free of charge; however, participants must cover partial accommodation and catering costs of 80 EUR. 

To apply to participate, please fill out the application formtiny.cc/lccasummerschool and submit it by email with a CV and a letter of motivation in English by email. Additionally, you can add a creative portfolio including projects or one to two publications related to the theme.

The deadline for applications is 3 June 2019. Please email the documents to: lccasummerschool@gmail.com. We will respond to applicants by 14 June.

For any questions regarding application, please contact Ieva Astahovska at ieva.ast@gmail.com