twitter facebook
Photo: Kristīne Madjare


As part of’s look back at 2016, we present below the answers that our group of art and culture experts gave when asked what were the most inspiring publications that they had a chance to leaf through last year.


Evita Vasiļjeva. if you can't, engage (ja nevari, iesaisties). Publisher: kim? Contemporary Art Centre. Photo: Vents Āboltiņš

Kaspars Groševs, artist (Latvia)

Unequivocally, Evita Vasiļjeva’s release of if you can't, engage, which was a complement to her solo show at the gallery 427, and later, at the kim? Contemporary Art Centre in Riga. Evita’s love-hate struggle with materials and her searches for eternity are laid out in a seemingly erratic collage, one which actually isn’t all that erratic, but rather – sensitive and lively, and which is wonderfully ensconced by an unobtrusive contribution of design.

Julien Robson, curator (Austria/USA)

- I was nicely surprised to discover Arterritory Conversations With Collectors. It’s great to get insight into how collectors think about what motivates them. It’s a niche publication, but a very necessary one. 

- During the summer, I was also pleased to find out about Keen Ona web magazine that comes out of Vienna.

Markus Gabriel. Why the World Does Not Exist. Publisher: Wiley, 2015

Erwin Wurm, artist (Austria)

-  The book Why the World Does Not Exist, by the young German philosopher Markus Gabriel, is great.

Madli Ehasalu, curator (Estonia)

- Knock! Knock! Books, an independent publishing house with a twist. Their first storybook is about a publishing house, and it contains references to cultural theory as well as compelling visual material.

Brigita Reinert, art theorist, critic, and editor (Estonia)

I discovered a book that was published two years ago: The Critical Mass of Mediation (2014), which seems rather relevant also in 2016. In the book, different authors discuss the role of mediation and the “middleman” in the context of artistic and cultural production. According to the editors, mediation is a type of economic and symbolic abstraction characteristic of our time: one that challenges aesthetic experience at all levels of making, thinking, and consuming art. In a way, they believe that the world at present isn’t a whole lot bigger than mediation and its effects. I think that for me, this book revealed itself at the right place and at the right time. The texts do a good job of highlighting how mediation has reached a critical mass, and how modes of valuation and re-distribution have started to dominate the configurations of meaning.

Another interesting discovery was Archives and Disobedience. Changing Tactics of Visual Culture in Eastern Europe, edited by Margaret Tali and Tanel Rander (2016). This text collection is focused on the role of archives in the visual culture and public discourse of Eastern European transformational societies. The collection contains multiple theoretical and artistic positions and critiques, and creates a good theory base for researchers who are interested in the Eastern European discourse. The 12 texts are divided into three parts: 1. The Aporias of Post-Socialist Archives; 2. The Discontents of Control and its Mechanisms; and 3. Counterarchives and Disobedience. I especially enjoyed Vesna Madžoski’s text about inventing the curator(s), in which she explains the historical formation of the curator as an institution; and the text by Tanel Rander, in which he analyses the Eastern European discourse and the region’s three different images, thereby creating a time-line with which to “decipher” the former East.

Photography At MoMA: 1920 To 1960 (2016)

Alise Tīfentāle, art historian (Latvia)

Released in October, Photography at MoMA: 1920 to 19960, is a significant publication. It is the second volume of three, and it is put out by the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA. Taking into account the massive influence that MoMA has in the art world, it’s quite clear that this volume not only introduces the reader to the Museum’s collection, but also, of course, sets the tone and dictates the canon to be included in the definition of global photography in the context of art history.

A significant turning point was the founding of the Journal of Cultural Analytics. The Journal serves as an academic platform for the so-called “cultural analysis”, or in other words, critique and theory of art and culture that is based on both the traditions of the humanitarian sciences and the methods of computer science. I’m inspired by the rational, scientific paradigm that “cultural analysis” can offer us. Statistics, tables, and graphs are the future of art theory, not poetics and emotions.

Liisa Kaljula, curator (Estonia)

Archives and Disobedience. Changing Tactics of Visual Culture in Eastern Europe. It´s actually all right to go through a little regional hype as Eastern Europe in my humble opinion should be no less than a movement. And a movement, in order to be a movement, should always consist of a more popular and inclusive as well as of a more scholarly and exclusive wings. Archives and Disobedience belongs to the latter and tries to take a step further in developing the theoretical discourse of Eastern Europe.

Bo Nilsson, Artistic Director of Artipelag (Sweden)

- The Swedish magazine Artlover.

David Kennedy-Cutler, artist (USA)

- The Third Rail Quarterly from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Third Rail is a free, nonprofit periodical devoted to the discussion of modern and contemporary art, politics, philosophy, and culture, featuring critical essays and reviews, interviews, literary arts, and artist center-spread projects.

Revisiting Footnotes. Footprints of the Recent Past in the Post-Socialist Region. Riga: Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art. 2015. Publicity picture

Francisco Martínez, anthropologist (Spain/Estonia)

I’m listing four publications (two of them are old, but I discovered them just this year):

- Ott Kagovere et al. 2015. Period. Tallinn: Estonian Academy of Arts Graphic Design Department.

- Ieva Astahovska and Inga Lāce (eds.) 2015. Revisiting Footnotes. Footprints of the Recent Past in the Post-Socialist Region. Riga: Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art.

- Eleonor de Montesquiou 2006. Atom Cities. Paldiski-Sillamäe. Tallinn: Linnagaleriis.

-Calin Dan (ed.) 2006. Emotional Architecture 2. Bucharest: Hand Milked Visions Found.

Moscow: Architecture of Soviet Modernism, 1955‒1991

Sergei Khachaturov, art critic and curator (Russia)

In my work as a lecturer at a number of educational establishments, a fundamentally significant role has been played by the book Moscow: Architecture of Soviet Modernism, 1955‒1991 (the Garazh Publishing House). Its authors Anna Bronovitskaya, Nikolai Malinin and photographer Yuri Palmin have created a fantastic guide to Soviet Modernism in Moscow, from the Khrushchev Thaw through Perestroika. The architecture here serves as an example allowing them to characterise major cultural and historical phenomena.

Milena Orlova, art critic, Editor-in-Chief of The Art Newspaper Russia

Perhaps I am reading too much of everything to highlight a single article. However, as depiction of the contemporary ideological situation, I thought Submission, the latest novel by Michel Houellebecq, was extremely significant and wonderful piece.

Arterritory Conversations With Collectors. 2016

Laura Rutkute, creative director at the Vilnius gallery Vartai  

- Artterritory's Collectors Magazine. It is not my intent to please the host of this article, but I am seriously happy about this project, and I tip my hat to the initiators of the idea. It is not only highly professional and very interesting, but also plays an essential role for the development of art markets in the Baltic countries.