COAL DEBT is a conceptual exhibition from the Mūkusala Art Salon collection, whose central points of reference are the transformations of Latvian economics and geological melancholia.
The title of the exhibition is taken from the slogan of Gustavs Klucis’ 1930 Soviet propaganda poster – “We Will Return Our Coal Debt to the Country”. It can be related not only to the voracity of the rapid planned industrialisation of the USSR, but also its subsequent energy export-based economics, whose price fluctuations continue to determine the welfare of Russia and a row of other post-Soviet countries. Inhabitants of the territory of Latvia have for long periods of history been honourably returning various ‘debts’ to colonising powers, made use of ‘the green gold’, peat and dolomite, for a brief period themselves been mercantile colonisers, constructed a hydropower plant and currently are full clients of Gazprom, yet, due to geological specifics, the coal debt cannot be returned. There are many who mourn this void in the bowels of the earth.
Curator: Valts Miķelsons
Image: Gustavs Šķilters. Priestesses. Ca 1918. Charcoal and etching on paper. 18.3 x 14.5 cm. Collection of the Mūkusala Art Salon