Riga Dating Agency: Art, Intimacy, and Narratives of Female Agency in Post-Soviet Latvia

  • Inga Untiks York University


"The legacy of Anna Lācis has been overdetermined by considerations of her personal life, with her historiography thoroughly enmeshed in the scholarly study of Walter Benjamin.... Extended artistic initiatives such as the Riga Dating Agency sought to make visible the gender dynamics of mediated representations of Eastern European women, in which women are presented as commodified heteronormative objects of desire in a form that conceals and restricts their agency. As the following analysis of Riga Dating Agency and two contrasting pieces, Estonian Kai Kaljo’s A Loser and the LN Women’s League, reveals, these art works invite discussion as multilayered yet problematic sites that construct gender and ethnicity in terms that allow for reflection on the process by which Lācis came to be known as Benjamin’s 'Latvian Bolshevik girlfriend.'"