June 11, 2015

Visvaldis Ziediņš: Travels in the Imagination

American University Museum at the Katzen Art Center
Visvaldis Ziedins. Moon Map, 2000. Paper (insertion of the map of 1913) on wood, 48 x 47.5 cm. Courtesy of Institute for Contemporary Art, Riga.

The Institute for Contemporary Art (Riga) and American University Museum at Katzen Arts Center (Washington DC) announce a symposium and exhibition Visvaldis Ziediņš: Travels in the Imagination.

This symposium and exhibition comprise the first American presentation of the art of Visvaldis Ziediņš, a remarkable Soviet era Latvian artist whose work has only recently come to light since his death in 2007. A sampling of the artist’s paintings, drawings and collages, created from such quotidean materials as crushed cans, metal tins, driftwood, old tools, bottle caps, marmelade boxes and discarded packing materials, opens at the Katzen Arts Center on Saturday, June 13. The exhibition is curated by Eleanor Heartney, Ieva Kalnina and Jack Rasmussen.

Largely cut off from the international art community, Ziediņš lived outside Riga, the capital of Latvia and was only marginally connected to the Lativan art world. But while his material and physical circumstances were extremely limited, his imagination was not. His formal and conceptual explorations bear comparison to work being done across the globe during his lifetime by avant-gardists as diverse as Pablo Picasso, John Cage, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, Antoni Tapies and Arman. His works engage a wide array of human experiences, touching on everything from the vastness of the cosmos and the mysteries of religion to the hidden structures of nature and the absurdity of human civilization. At the same time, Ziediņš’ wit and the universality of his concerns make his works immediately accessible to modern audiences.

The day before the public opening, Friday June 12, The Latvian Embassy will host a symposium that explores the artist’s work, his connection to the international avant garde and considers what it tells us about the nature of artmaking in the Soviet Union. Speakers include critic and curator Eleanor Heartney, art historians Alla Rosenfeld, Mark Allen Svede and Ieva Kalnina. Ms. Rosenfeld is a specialist on Russian Art and culture. She teaches at Rutgers University and was curator of Russian Art at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum from 1992 to 2006, as well as Director of the Zimmerli’s Russian Art Department. She will present a lecture on “Soviet Nonconformist Art and its Social and Political Context.” Mr. Svede is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art History at The Ohio State University and has published widely on Latvian art, architecture, film and fashion, from the early modernist period to today, with a particular concentration on aspects of nonconformist, dissident and youth culture of the Soviet era. He will discuss “An Inner Circle of Outsiders: Visvaldis Ziediņš and Creative Context.” The symposium will conclude with a panel discussion with the curators and speakers.

The symposium takes place at the Latvian Embassy from noon to 4pm at 2306 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC and will be followed at 5:30pm by a reception for the exhibition reception  at the American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center (4400 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20016).

The exhibition will be at American University Museum at Katzen Art Center from June 13 to July 26.

The exhibition is being presented by the Institute for Contemporary Art (Riga) and is organized as part of the Culture program of the Latvian Presidency of the EU Council. The Latvian Presidency of the EU Council provides Latvia the opportunity to contribute to the political agenda of the European Union, and to inspire the world by offering a wide ranging public diplomacy and culture program.


Institute for Contemporary Art (Riga) and American University Museum at Katzen Arts Center present Visvaldis Ziediņš exhibition and symposium in Washington DC

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