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The exhibition about the life before the Internet at the Latvian National Museum of Art

December 5, 2017

From 8 December 2017 to 4 February 2018 the exhibition " YOU'VE GOT 1243 UNREAD MESSAGES. Last Generation before the Internet. Their Lives" will be on show at the Latvian National Museum of Art, Great Exhibition Hall. The exhibition is organized by Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) in cooperation with ABLV Charitable Foundation. The exhibition will deal with the recent past, when the networking and search for oneself and others took place in an analogue instead of a digital environment.

Do you remember the time before the Facebook era and text messages? The era when people had to agree on a meeting beforehand but friends could show up unannounced? It was characterized by telegrams, address books and calligraphy notebooks. Typewriters clattered in offices and there were lines at phone booths. Such memories are a part of the story about the last pre-Internet generations and their lives.

The exhibition "YOU'VE GOT 1243 UNREAD MESSAGES" deals with the recent past when the quest for one's identity and communication with others took place in the analogue, instead of digital, environment. The exhibition is designed to uncover the cultural layer of the era that ended not so long ago. The combination of artworks and various everyday 'micro-historical' objects will serve as an introduction to some 20th century individuals and wider currents, which challenged the commonly accepted boundaries between art and everyday life.

Beginning with mid-20th century, increasingly large numbers of people started using equipment for mechanical reproduction of texts and images and data transmission – telephones, typewriters and portable cameras. In the West, people used Xerox copiers, whereas Soviet citizens had to make do with carbon paper. The new opportunities had an important effect on both the creative expression of artists and such traditional means of self-reflection as diaries, scrapbooks, pen-pal correspondence and family albums. The last decades preceding the digital revolution have therefore left an unusually multifaceted and unsurpassed, in terms of sheer volume, cultural heritage of this kind. It tells us the story of stereotypes and clichés as well as the longing for self-determination and departure from the commonplace. Alongside cultivated peculiarities and imprints of lone travelers, forms of horizontal socializing and experiments with everyday regularities are found. It is this private and public interaction, which makes these testimonies from the past topical in the era of digital reality. 

This multitude of exhibits may have the effect of a long unopened mailbox where the heap of messages holds the possibility of finding one addressed to oneself. The exhibition is likely to unleash various memories for mature viewers and present a hitherto unknown, yet intriguing world for those who have reached adulthood in the Internet era.

Curators of the exhibition:
Kaspars Vanags, Zane Zajančkauska, and Diana Franssen (Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Netherlands)

Co-producer and main supporter:
ABLV Charitable Foundation


An exhibition opening to last all day long at Great Exhibition Hall of Latvian National Museum of Art, 12:00 - 20:00. Free entry for two guests with a printed or electronic invitation. You can receive it here https://goo.gl/psJXQf

13:00 and 15:00
guided tours by curators and art mediators in Latvian, English and Russian

Slide show. We will open a room, which, for the duration of the exhibit, will be available for the viewing of personal slides together with friends and family

18:30 – 19:30
DJ Raitis’s tape-art performance with reel-to-reel recorders “ELFA 201-3 STEREO”

More information:
Marta Krivade
Head of Communications, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art
marta.krivade@lcca.lv, tel. 264863121

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