History of Communism in Europe

Volume 10, 2019

"Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Gabija Purlyte
Pages 145-167

Representations of the Soviet Period and Its Traces in the Works of Contemporary Artists from the Baltic States

This paper examines how Soviet and post‑Soviet history is presented and reflected upon in select works of contemporary artists from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. As the contemporary art scenes of these newly independent states developed and joined the global contemporary art circuit, a number of Baltic artists have participated in the recent “historiographic turn” in art. Through the analysis of examples, we look at four approaches employed by these artists when tackling the subject of history seen through personal narratives; history told from the point of view of ethnic/linguistic minorities; a focus on women’s experiences; and a debate on the preservation, removal, and building of commemorative monuments. This paper aims to show how these artists integrate reflections of the Soviet and post‑Soviet experience into the building of complex, inclusive, positive post‑Soviet identities.