Research into a cultural void.
(via Museum Victoria)
“…With the annexation of Latvia by the Soviet Union after World War II, large numbers of Latvians came to Australia as displaced persons under the International Refugee Organization’s re-settlement program.
Between 1947 and 1952, 19,700 Latvian refugees arrived in Australia. In Victoria, the Latvia-born population increased from 108 people in 1947 to 5,693 in 1954. At that time many were required to work in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs to fulfil their two-year contracts with the Australian Government under the terms of their migration.”
(via Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
World War II
Occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany (1941–1944)
A large number of Latvians resisted the German occupation.”
Soviet era, 1944-1990
“The first post-war years were marked by particularly dismal and sombre events in the fate of the Latvian nation. On March 25, 1949, 43,000 rural residents (“kulaks“) and Latvian patriots (“nationalists”) were deported to Siberia in a sweeping repressive Operation Priboi in all three Baltic States, which was carefully planned and approved in Moscow already on January 29, 1949. All together 120,000 Latvian inhabitants were imprisoned or deported to Soviet concentration camps (the Gulag). Some managed to escape arrest and joined the partisans.”
30. see text of ultimatum; text in Latvian: I.Grava-Kreituse, I.Feldmanis, J.Goldmanis, A.Stranga. (1995). Latvijas okupācija un aneksija 1939-1940: Dokumenti un materiāli. (The Occupation and Annexation of Latvia: 1939-1940. Documents and Materials.). Preses nams. pp. 340–342.
32. Ezergailis, A. The Holocaust in Latvia, 1996
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
Duration – 2 September to 3 December 1995
Imants Tillers, Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Bernhard Blume, Carlo Carra, Giorgio de Chirico, Mike Kelley, Vytautas Landsbergis, Colin McCahon, Unto Pusa, Arnulf Rainer, Nicholas Roerich, Isidore Tillers
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
“This exhibition took the large-scale painting Diaspora (1992) by Imants Tillers as the starting point for an exploration of the complex processes in his work and its relationship to a broader art context. Tillers’ creative practice was revealed by presenting this work together with its sources in works by other artists.
Tillers borrows images from various sources, such as international art magazines and catalogues, merging images by artists he greatly admires, whilst also incorporating sources specific to his Latvian heritage. In doing so he mixes systems of meaning in works which have an often resistant, wilful character of rupture, dispersal, splicing and re-formation. Tillers forms entirely new contexts for the images he uses, showing that they have no essentialist meaning, and that all images are open to re-reading and re-contextualisation.
Tillers produced Diaspora (1992) in response to the unexpected collapse of communism in Latvia in 1991. The work was designed to be shown either as a complete whole, or separated into individual panels as a series of paintings, an exhibition. Rather than presenting a retrospective of his twenty-year career, Tillers’ recontextualised Diaspora for the MCA, assembling it into a single work of art and exhibiting it alongside relevant works from 1989-1995 which led the way to and evolved from Diaspora. The whole exhibition, therefore, was a powerful comment on the collapse of communism in Latvia and the resulting social change.”
Latvian Diaspora Artists:
Inspiration from mythology
“Fearing that modern American painting had reached a conceptual dead end, Rothko was intent upon exploring subjects other than urban and nature scenes. He sought subjects that would complement his growing interest with form, space, and color. The world crisis of war lent this search an immediacy because he insisted that the new subject matter have a social impact, yet be able to transcend the confines of current political symbols and values. In his essay “The Romantics Were Prompted,” published in 1949, Rothko argued that the “archaic artist … found it necessary to create a group of intermediaries, monsters, hybrids, gods and demigods” in much the same way that modern man found intermediaries in Fascism and the Communist Party. For Rothko, “without monsters and gods, art cannot enact a drama.”
Rothko’s use of mythology as a commentary on current history was not novel. Rothko, Gottlieb, and Newman read and discussed the works of Freud and Jung – in particular their theories concerning dreams and the archetypes of the collective unconscious – and they understood mythological symbols as images that operate in a space of human consciousness that transcends specific history and culture. Rothko later said that his artistic approach was “reformed” by his study of the “dramatic themes of myth.”
“The year 1946 saw the creation of Rothko’s transitional “multiform” paintings. The term “multiform” has been applied by art critics; this word was never used by Rothko himself, yet it is an accurate description of these paintings. Several of them, including No. 18 and Untitled (both 1948), are less transitional than fully realized. Rothko himself described these paintings as possessing a more organic structure and as self-contained units of human expression. For him, these blurred blocks of various colors, devoid of landscape or the human figure, let alone myth and symbol, possessed their own life force. They contained a “breath of life” he found lacking in most figurative painting of the era. They filled with possibility, whereas his experimentation with mythological symbolism had become a tired formula. The “multiforms” brought Rothko to a realization of his mature, signature style, the only style Rothko would never fully abandon.
In the middle of this crucial period of transition, Rothko had been impressed by Clyfford Still‘s abstract fields of color, which were influenced in part by the landscapes of Still’s native North Dakota.“
“…Halsman commented, “When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears.”The photographer developed a philosophy of jump photography, which he called jumpology. He published Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book in 1959, which contained a tongue-in-cheek discussion of jumpology and 178 photographs of celebrity jumpers.
His 1961 book Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas, discussed ways for photographers to produce unusual pieces of work by following six rules:
- “the rule of the direct approach,”
- “the rule of the unusual technique,”
- “the rule of the added unusual feature,”
- “the rule of the missing feature,”
- “the rule of compounded features,”
- “the rule of the literal or ideographic method.”
Dalí Atomicus (1948) by Halsman in an unretouched version, showing the devices which held up the various props and missing the painting in the frame on the easel.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
14 JULY – 16 October 2006
“The more we look at his paintings, the more pervasive Tillers’s own presence becomes, not only through his very particular method of painting but also through constant references to the artist’s role and his shifting identity.”
“…Tillers’ interest in cross-cultural issues would come to the fore in his Diaspora series in the following decade, these earlier works reveal that his preoccupation with the shifting nature of our personal and collective identities and displacements was apparent in the mid 1980s, as it had been from the beginning of the canvasboard system.”
1 Nicholas Baume, ‘Where truth is no stranger to fiction: Imants Tillers, Kangaroo blank 1988’, in Creating Australia, two hundred years of art: 1788–1988, exhibition catalogue, Adelaide: International Cultural Corporation of Australia Ltd and Art Gallery Board of South Australia, 1988, p.227.
2 Betty Churcher, in Imants Tillers: Venice Biennale 1986 Australia, exhibition catalogue, Adelaide: Art Gallery Board of South Australia and the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, Sydney, 1986, p.54.
Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia
“Life stories are a significant part of the cultural heritage of the Baltic diaspora. Life stories tell about historical events of the diaspora from a subjective, personal viewpoint. Furthermore – life stories are important not only as testimonies of history, but they themselves play an important role in the diaspora communities, particularly in the preservation and transmission of national identity.
The paper focuses on the collection and research of life stories of Latvia within the National Oral History (LNOH) project, with particular emphasis on the collections and research of Latvian diaspora narratives.”
“The Apinis weaving collection contains over 150 objects made and used by Latvian migrants, Anna, Ervin and Anita Apinis, in the maintenance of traditional skills and cultural heritage associated with the artistic practice of weaving. It includes brought objects, examples of weaving, photographs and audio visual oral histories. It has been acquired by Museum Victoria in stages since the relationship with the family was first established as part of the immigration and artistic practice project in 1992.”
Author: Ms Michelle Stevenson