April 13, 2015 - The Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU / Culture Programme - Latvian contemporary art at the 56th Venice Biennale
April 13, 2015

Latvian contemporary art at the 56th Venice Biennale

Eight artists to represent Latvia at the 2015 Venice Biennale
May 9–November 22, 2015

Vernissage: May 6–8



Latvia’s contemporary art and the processes taking place at its leading edge will be presented at the 56th Venice Biennale with two exhibitions at the Arsenale: Latvia’s national pavilion will be showing the multimedia installation Armpit, while the Biennale’s Collateral Programme will be featuring the exhibition Ornamentalism. The Purvītis Prize. Latvian Contemporary Art.

On the morning of May 8, the organisers of both exhibitions will be hosting a breakfast at the legendary Café Paradiso, when the magazine Conversations With Collectors, Vol. 2 will also be presented.

The Latvian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale

Multimedia art installation: Armpit
Artists: Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis
Commissioner: Solvita Krese
Curator: Kaspars Vanags
Organisers: the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

The Latvian pavilion has been transformed into an imposing temple of vernacular architecture. It is reminiscent of a spaceship that is built according to retro-utopian traditions and the aesthetics of Soviet garage cooperatives, a sacred space stuffed with elements of quotidian spirituality.

Armpit is the first collaboration between two of the new generation Latvian artists—Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis. Katrīna’s work is nearly always rooted in anthropological interest in people whom she explores in her videos. Andris has opted for recycled wood and chainsaw instead of canvas and brushes, breathing fresh spatial life into his paintings.

Why would Latvian artists take garages to Venice? It could be a desire to revisit history, looking back at the tradition that blossomed during the Soviet era when people were forced to acquire many useful skills, invent and make various items by themselves while living in an isolated territory outside of the market economy. It can also be perceived as a platform of gender studies that reveals the subtle differences between female and male processes of communication and creation—the garage as a masculine shelter, a fortress, versus a woman’s “room of her own.”

Ornamentalism. The Purvītis Prize. Latvian Contemporary Art
Collateral Event of the 56th Venice Biennale
Arsenale, Tesa 99
Artists: Andris Eglītis, Ieva Epnere, Miķelis Fišers, Kristaps Ģelzis, Romans Korovins, Ģirts Muižnieks, Katrīna Neiburga, and the text group “Orbīta”
Commissioner: Daiga Rudzāte
Curator: Viktor Misiano
Organisers: The Secretariat of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015, in cooperation with the Culture project agency INDIE, and the Art and culture website arterritory.com.

Curator Viktor Misiano explains: “The Ornamentalism project offers eight distinctly individual positions; while complete opposites in many aspects, they are unanimous in that they share a point of departure: the more art is aware of its own illusory nature, the more it transcends the empirical reality, revealing the essential reality. Ornament is a will-to-art (Kunstwollen), through which the soul of life shines.”

At the basis of the exhibition is the Purvītis Prize—Latvia’s most prestigious award in contemporary art. The nominees and winners of the Purvītis Prize represent both the direction of thought and the expressive forms found in today’s Latvian contemporary art.

Arterritory Conversations with Collectors, Vol. 2
The arterritory.com portal is publishing volume two of its annual Arterritory Conversations with Collectors magazine, a compilation of interviews with 11 influential art collectors from all over the world. The magazine will be presented during professional preview days of the 56th Venice Biennale and will be available in the bookshops of the Biennale. In conversations with collectors—Gilles Fuchs, Igor Tsukanov, Ryutaro Takahashi, Giuliano Gori, Julia Stoschek, Alain Servais, Jean Pigozzi, Jānis Zuzāns, Takeo Obayashi, Egidio Marzona, and Isabelle Maeght—the objective of the creators of the magazine was not only to present an insider’s look at excellent art collections, but also to show that art and the passion to collect can change a person’s life and view of the world.

The Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU / Culture Programme
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