Theme of the exhibition is the story of a Latvian girl who has gone to Britain, accepted Islam and got married. The two sculptures both represent the moment when a young woman participates in a party in Ziepniekkalns (area in Riga) two years before departure to Britain. One sculpture is the representation of the woman herself while the other talks of the woman’s experience.
The artists here attends to the Western person – scared of the scope of freedom and far too many choices. His response is an escape within a system that strictly determines and regulates one’s way of life. Through the sculptures artist illustrates the critical point, the fracture that represents an extreme tension of the structure, followed by radical change.
LIBAU – HALIFAX – LIBAU, 2015, polymer foam, glass fiber, enamel paint, steel rebar, roots, branches
The Latvian word ‘cilme’ stands for origin, in this reference – the origin of Latvian identity. The exhibition is set within the framework of a program celebrating the centenary of Latvia’s first independence (1918). Representing the Academy of Arts in Riga, Latvia, the exhibition is composed of artwork made by its graduates, students and professors and lecturers.
The project has its own objectives – a focus on the Latvian identity and its attributes. Artists have been invited to constitute the project with their interpretation of Latvia and specific characteristics that make up the ‘Latvianness’. Diverse selection of artists presents varied outlook on the same matter based on different experiences, topicalities and craft methods.
Combined within the framework of this exhibition, these diverse interpretations make up a mixture of cultural attributes ascribed to Latvia(n) and simultaneously challenge, overthrow or play with our conceptions of affiliation and the self.
Located in the center of the exhibition hall is Aigars Bikše’s gigantic folk maid “LIBAU – HALIFAX – LIBAU”. Along with other interpretations in the exhibition this sculpture incorporates traditional assets of Latvian culture in a new context. With the extensive roots attached, the figure comments on the affiliation of the diaspora Latvians and their belonging to Latvia.
The sculptor has brought up the topic in the public discourse before addressing the significant amount of displaced Latvians living abroad. A story goes with it – the folk maid Milda has just returned to Latvia while her kin has spent more than a century in exile. This makes us question how far our roots really stretch – the extent to which ‘Latvianness’ expands outside of the country’s borders.
Concurrently, the work attends to the fluid nature of ‘Latvianness’. Along with the culture it constitutes, the meaning of ‘Latvian’ is history and context specific and thus constantly shifting.