The choice I had to make forthe Alternative Art Guide was not an easy one. The notion ‘localism’ that should form the decision on the material selected for it, is ambiguous and discussible. If to believe and follow the words put by Zygmunt Bauman, who speaks about uncertainty and non-margin situation, when everything is fluid, there is no local anymore; what we are experiencing now is an acceleration of liquidity. Trying to avoid the constructed opposition of ‘local’ versus ‘center’, I have chosen to present three Latvian artists – Evita Vasiļjeva, Inga Meldere and Kaspars Groševs, who actually are not local in the sense that they would be based or tied exclusively to the Latvian art scene. Instead they are very active internationally, as two of them have spent (or are still spending) some time studying abroad, and all of them exhibit their work in various exhibitions and engage themselves in different contexts, cultures and networks. They all are in their early careers. The way their artistic styles have developed refers to local influences and traditions. In other words, the points of departure that, be they more visible or hidden, reflect on the local, Latvian context, which is seen as oriented towards the poetic and the picturesque. Thus this presentation turns out to be about tangibility, memory of materials, their surfaces, an urge to expand or to overcome borders and to seek definitions that, once found, immediately slip away.
The making of a piece, the process of a production of an object, when one is coming into the world, being shaped and framed, is a subject of interest in Evita Vasiļjeva’s artistic practice. As a fresh graduate of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Evita pays attention to materiality, exploring the old notion of substance that serves as clay in the arms of an artist. There is something about a state of becoming rather than about being finished. The forms and structures of her work look incomplete, found in a process of transformation, smooth and flowing. These objects or installations or whatever they may be called, could even be referred to as a new sculpture that both resembles the features of sculpting in terms of an old medium, where the process of molding or/and casting, relating to the strong traditions of crafts, is crucial; and encompasses the shift to something else that is not yet definable. The combination of remnants of past and a projection of future possibilities merges in Evita’s work in a very strange and interesting way, offering the lack of presence. “ … little ruins of Modernism and also the molds of some future form that is strangely absent, “ as artist Janice McNab puts it.
Fragility and sensitiveness comes to mind, when looking at Inga Meldere’s artistic practice. That is mostly related to the impression of how her works are created – gentle touch, carefully selected, earthy colours and an intuitive approach towards the narrative are all elements involved in her work. The images and characters may seem simplified or even childish, because they resemble our childhood drawings and clumsy reflections of visions of the outside world put on paper. Inga has been considered to be one of the gifted young painters from Latvia. Her art pieces encompass not only some level of picturesqueness, something traditional in terms of local painting, when mentioning the colour scheme she has been using, but also the urge to widen the borders or to expand the possibilities of painting, by keeping the media modes of expression. It seems that painting serves as a point of departure providing with the tools of expression that further are mixed or complement each other in other media. Inga is currently working on the research project “The Great Great Disappointment” at De Jan Van Eyck Academie, where she focus on emotional experience, traumas, expectations and truths that may collapse or fail at a certain moment in our lives.
Kaspars Groševs aims to create continuations that avoid completeness. It doesn’t matter if these are exhibitions, art pieces, publications or articles – all of these forms are produced with an intention to extend them in time. Therefore Kaspars usually deals with those elements, sequences, excerpts, fragments, episodes, chapters etc., which could produce different and never repeating combinations. Frequently these are taken from music or popular culture as quotations, or even form the works of friends or other artists. For example, in his recent show 00:10:00:00 at kim? Contemporary Art Centre Kaspars used short dance music elements that were played on a drum machine at least every ten minutes. The overall composition was about six hours long, so every ten minutes there was a slightly different timing and an arrangement of beats. Despite his works being subjected to certain structures and algorithms, the art pieces do not aim to be finished and instead there is some kind of uncertainty and elusiveness about them. That seems to appear from Kaspars’ interest in experiments. He is not afraid of failures, quite the opposite, he uses his own and his friends’ failed attempts and disconnections in order to create abstract systems that reflect on the presence of liquidity and fluidity.
Maija Rudovska (1982, Latvia) is an independent curator, researcher and art historian from Latvia, based in Riga. She has completed Curatorlab postgraduate studies at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm and has obtained an MA from the Art Academy of Latvia. Currently she is working on her PhD thesis at the Art Academy of Latvia and is exploring Soviet era architecture. Rudovska has curated/co-curated such projects as Inside and Out at kim? Contemporary Art Centre (2012/2013), Expired Monument: Story of a Culture Palace (with Shirin Sabahi, 2011), Regard: Subversive Actions in Normative Space (Moderna Museet, Sockholm, 2010), Hardijs Ledins (1955-2004) – Zeitgeist and the atmosphere of a place (Riga Art Space, Riga, 2009), and others. At the moment she is running a curatorial network Blind Carbon Copy (with Juste Kostikovaite) and engaging in various curatorial projects. She often writes about contemporary art and architecture.