“Unexpected Encounters” is a research and exhibition project that explores the relationship between science fiction, art and processes in society, and is initiated by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art. The title of the project is borrowed from the name of a collection of science fiction novels by the eponymous Soviet science fiction writers Strugatsky brothers, as published in Riga, in 1987.Mapping the pivotal characteristics of the last decade, it is hard to imagine a greater contrast between the unprecedented technological progress and the equally rapid development of socio-political processes towards the right-wing conservatism. Our societies experience those changes manifested as growing nationalism, intolerance towards migration, new wave of populism, all this – paralleled with a rapid technological development, nomadic start-up cultures and ongoing innovation. As in the various contradictory points in history, there is a growing interest in science fiction, which offers both advanced utopias and frightening dystopian scenarios. The project thus focuses on the utopias offered by science fiction that especially address issues such as gender inequality and threatening ecological disasters imagining more feminist, queer and ecologically sustainable futures.
The first iteration of the project is landing in Den Frie Centre for Contemporary art with new productions of artworks, presented within the exhibition “Cosmic Existence” with participation of four Latvian artists Ieva Balode, Kristaps Epners, Viktors Timofejevs and Arturs Virtmanis. The exhibition addresses a multitude of existential themes like consciousness, infinity, spirituality, technology, nature, the cosmos, utopias, mythologies.
“Unexpected Encounters” is supported by Latvian Culture ministry, Canada embassy in Riga, “Copy Pro”. Unexpected Encounters is one of the events of the Latvia’s Centenary Celebrations. Latvia’s Centenary celebrations take place from 2017 to 2021. The central message of the centenary celebrations is “I am Latvia” emphasizing that the main value of Latvia is its people that create its present with their everyday work and build the basis for its future together with the new generation.