Writers' Bloc: reading into late Soviet experience through Latvian artists' books

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Mark Allen Svede


This article focuses on book works by Latvian artists during the late-Soviet period, and also offers an initial discussion of the peculiarities of the Soviet publishing environment, as it existed shortly before the USSR’s annexation of Latvia at the end of World War II, and the roughly concurrent publication experiences of progressive artists in inter-bellum Latvia, the so-called First Republic. During its heyday in the 1960s and 70s the artist’s book was hailed by many practitioners in the West as the superlative democratic art form, due to the hypothetical possibility of the widespread ownership of the art object. An examination of how artist-authored books developed amid Latvian society's repeated, abrupt transitions between democracy and totalitarianism during the past century may further illuminate this concept of a democratic art medium.

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