While scholarship and preservation of modernist structures is a given in many countries, the situation in Latvia, and the country’s relationship to its recent past is, in a word, complicated. An aversion to signifiers of the Soviet era has made cataloging that era’s architectural achievements difficult, and until now, nobody has moved to fill that gap in the historical record. Architects at NRJA, a firm founded in the Latvian capital of Riga in 2005, are using the occasion of the Venice Biennale, as well as a wave of nostalgia directed toward the post-war period, to begin chronicling their own country’s design history. Their Unwritten project will fill the Latvian pavilion with photos of Modernist structures from the post-war era, an attempt to build appreciation and understanding before buildings are lost to redevelopment. Their perspective-altering showcase is summed up in a sign above the exhibition: “There is (no) modernism in Latvia.”
See examples of Latvian architecture on display in our slideshow.