My new exhibition – The Haunting Heritage

Opening on the 11th of August at 17:00,

at Kuusiston Taidekartano in Kaarina near Turku, Finland

It is a strange feeling to realize how with time you start looking differently at some things and topics. I think a lot has changed in my thinking and attitude toward the Soviet heritage and, I guess, a lot is still going to change…

I used to have an Urban exploration hobby when I visited all sorts of abandoned places across Latvia. Most of them were from Soviet times, something that I even remember a little bit (I was 6 when the Soviet Union collapsed). So it seemed vaguely familiar and then thanks to my post-soviet childhood with society slowly changing its mindset (many did not change at all). As a result, I understand this post-soviet vibe. Starting with my childhood I have heard a lot of older people saying the same things about the greatness of the Soviet Union and saw their kids and grandkids repeating the same phrases decades later, but it did not bother me much until a few years ago.

When I visited former Soviet military bases sometimes I could see the propaganda posters of the Cold War next to some newspapers from the perestroika times talking about nuclear disarmament and going towards a peaceful future. Those were like sediment layers marking specific periods in history. All those massive, expensive, dangerous, and threatening places, facilities, and organizations of the Soviet Union – now obsolete, abandoned, and demolished looked like bizarre artifacts from the past that will never repeat. They looked like leftovers from the strange “empire” long gone and yet those artifacts were still here like ghosts of the past.

And then everything changed as I mentioned in this post on my personal Instagram…

“I used to have an urban exploration hobby, where we were visiting and exploring abandoned places. In 2009 we were walking through an abandoned military hospital with my friends in my hometown Daugavpils, Latvia. The hospital was last used by the Soviet and then Russian army before they left in 1994.

On the floor under a thick layer of dust, I found this old cold-war time Soviet poster with a depiction of a nuclear mushroom cloud. The writing on the poster says “Conceptual scheme of medical and evacuation activities of the Soviet army”.

It looked very interesting and strange to me, like an artifact from another world. It felt such a long time ago, so horrible and ridiculously crazy and suicidal – the idea of a huge full-scale war in Europe and nuclear threat! It looked so bizarre that something like that would be still lying somewhere even 20 years after the disappearance of the Iron Curtain, so I took this poster to the local information center storage as a museum specimen, for a later possible exhibition.

Today this old dusty poster does not look that much like history anymore…”

I had the feeling that I need to revisit my old photos and show how strangely up-to-date those places might look sometimes. It accrued to me that maybe it is important to be one of those people who can show why most of the post-socialistic countries especially Baltic states and Poland have firm positions in this conflict and wants to help Ukraine to win this war because they know what can happen otherwise.

With the help of friends, my former hydrobiology professor, and the Embassy of Latvia in Finland I managed to get my old photos to Finland from Latvia. Some of the old photos will be as a foundation for this exhibition. But there will be previously unpublished photos as well.

The content of the exhibition might still grow and develop, but if you happen to be in Turku and have free time around 17:00 o’clock, you are welcome to the first opening of The Haunting Heritage exhibition in the cellar of Kuusisto Art Manor. The exhibition will be on display until 10th of September.

The exhibition is supported by the Embassy of Latvia in Finland.