Artistic event series

Project "Trajectories" is an attempt to explore the changing role of art and its institutions and their interaction both in local and global context. There have been invited four internationally known curators to implement the project - Maria Lind (Sweden), Stella Rollig (Austria), Mara Traumane (Latvia), Gregor Podnar (Slovenia); by choosing diverse strategies - trajectories they will develop artistic event series which will be on show in Riga in March - May and May 2007.

Trajectories events

Conference "Changing role of art institutions"
March 23, 11.00-16.30, Goethe Institute, Riga, Tornu Street 1

TRAJECTORY 1 (March 23-April 23, 2006)

TRAJECTORY 2 (March 17-23, October 2006)

TRAJECTORY 3 (May 25 - June 20, 2006)

TRAJECTORY 4 - AKA Institute of Contemporary Art. Transforming Vectors

(April 3 - May 27, 2007)

Context of the project

The first wave of institutional critique was observed in the late 1960s and early 70s and took the form of artists turning against the hierarchical structure of the art system represented chiefly by museums and the leading galleries. Following the rules of conceptualism that envisage the dematerialisation of the object, rejection of the commodity status of artworks and the changed role of the viewer, new forms of art practice were seen, such as actions, interventions, critical texts and so on. As Benjamin Buchloh wrote in one of his most important works �Conceptual Art 1962�1969: From the Aesthetic of Administration to the Critique of Institutions�: �Conceptual practices performed the post-war period�s most rigorous investigations of the conventions of pictorial and sculptural representation and a critique of the traditional paradigms of visuality.� In this way a new narrative was formed, which was used by artists such as Hans Haacke, Daniel Buren, Marcel Broodthaers and others as an instrument of institutional critique.


In the 90s, institutional critique took a different line. The focus shifted from critique of art institutions to critique of representation and created a platform for the manifestations and activities of various marginally represented groups. Feminists demanded equal rights for works by women artists to be included in museum collections and organised actions in the public space. Post-colonial issues also became topical. This period saw a significant change and expansion of the artist�s role and functions, which now came closer to the social sphere and political activism. Artists were now operating outside the exhibition halls and colonising the public space.


So what is characteristic of the so-called third wave of institutional critique that can be observed at the present time? It would seem that the critical intention has moved to within the institutions and is most often initiated by the institutions themselves. It does not seek to destroy the institution but to change it. As Simon Sheikh has pointed out, �If earlier the institution was the problem (from the artist�s point of view), then now it is the solution.�


The conditions dictated by capitalism demand the need for dynamic changes. The conditions place art institutions alongside business structures demanding high management capacity, the continuous demonstration of a creative approach, flexibility and mobility. It is less important for heads of art institutions to be experts in their field or talented art critics and curators than to be masters of management methodologies and to learn the balancing skills of political populism.


In their attempts to reject the rules of the consumer society game, progressive art institutions look for a way out in the new concept of public space. This offers a democratic space for a diversity of creative activities; it encourages the development of diverse models of co-operation, experiments with the interaction of different disciplines, stimulates teamwork and strives to involve the viewer in its activities.


The institutional context of Latvian art is marked by the lack of stable organisations supported by the state or local government that usually represent the top level of the hierarchy of the �official� art system and operate in accordance with the postulates of national cultural policy. Activities related to contemporary art take place on an irregular basis under the aegis of the National Museum of Art. The construction of a contemporary art museum is still only in the planning stage and, if we�re lucky, Riga will also have a city exhibition hall. The art market sector is also relatively underdeveloped and so galleries do not become influential players in the local art arena.


The lack of official and market oriented institutions seems to be compensated by the numerous self-organising creative teams characterised by their interdisciplinary nature, amorphous structure and flexibility. Many of them have their roots in club culture and make use of the language arsenal articulated by sub-culture. Quite often, those involved in this self-initiative do not identify themselves as artists; they regard their activities as an organic component of this kind of lifestyle and drift freely between the spaces of music, literature and visual culture (100% Svaigs, Biocodes, Orbīta and others). Such organisations as the pioneers of the new media RIXC and the Liepāja cultural centre K@2 not only arrange artistic activities but they are also actively involved in realising cultural political objectives.

Within the �Trajectories� project we are trying to examine various creative practices, which are marked by an institutional critique vector that describes or characterises an institution as moving point in the context/confines of the cultural space.

For more information: LCCA