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The Future State

174 year old Melānijs Bloka experiences enlightenment on the shore of the Baltic lake during a frosty thunderstorm, 2017, pine wood and oil paint

A contemporary art exhibition made within the framework of Latvia’s Centenary Programme, The Future State was launched on the 22nd of February and will be open for visitors up until the 20th of May at the ARSENĀLS exhibition hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga.

Exhibition theme has been created by Elita Ansone, also, the curator of the project. It is centered around the puzzling nature and possibly a confusing image of what the future country will resemble. Within this framework over twenty artists have been invited to envision what might be looming ahead. Particularly Aigars Bikše’s work has been located in the repository of LNMA sculptures and object collection. Positioning it among the objects of former topicality serves its purpose – it is not merely limited to visitors’ observation but dismantles the bounds of past, present and future.

The work 174 year old Melānijs Bloka experiences enlightenment on the shore of the Baltic lake during a frosty thunderstorm exhibits a compilation of inner and outer transformation. Brought together under the title of this wooden sculpture are two distinct things – experience of exalted elevation and intersexuality.

It was during a residency in Japan when the idea for the sculpture first came about and, subsequently, the sketches were made. In Buddhist tradition a particular emanation of the Buddha is a man who had become compassionate, kind and attentive towards the world through enlightenment and was thereby partially transformed into a female form. Here the emphasis is on the individual experience – an inner spiritual journey whereby the physical transformation serves as means of expression. It seems a compelling idea to envision the spirituality and exalted elevation in the foreground, leaving the gender-specifics in the background. The feminine and masculine are seen in a different manner from the Western world.

Depiction of an intersex person within the context of Latvian patriarchal society is not a statement on its own although it may easily be perceived as such. Intersexuality is rather a flashing example that represents what cannot be easily accepted or even tolerated. It vividly exemplifies the close relation between our cultural background and morality – the biased and dogmatic vision of our existence. Meanwhile, the exalted elevation is not as easy to bypass – the piety towards the mystical moment of enlightenment persists regardless of cultural background. The work attends the contradictions within a cultural system on its own.

What am I prepared to recognize?

What am I willing to accept and tolerate?

 

Representation of the Buddha having partially taken a female form /Temple, Rikuzentakata, Japan 2017/

 

 

Manila Biennale – Open City 2018

The Red Slide, 2012, polyurethane

 

Aigars Bikše’s work The Red Slide can be viewed in Manila Biennale – Open City 2018 in Manila, The Philippines.

Manila Biennale is an art festival oriented towards urban development that has gained prominence in the region of South-East Asia within the first year of its operation. Over 50 international participants have displayed their work in Intramuros, historically old and culturally significant part of the city.

This Year’s theme Open City is both – a tribute and a commemoration. It honors the emergence of the region of Intramuros, built during the reign of Spain and considered to be the birthplace of the local culture. At that time it was a lively port, which had thus opened itself up to the outer initiatives, influences and people unlike the vast majority of the surrounding areas. Meanwhile it serves as a reminder of the happenings of  the World War II and the destruction of Intramuros. Particularly on December 26, 1941 the city – colony of the US at that time – was declared an Open City. It came to be positioned as non-military city and was cleared of all military presence.  War period remains that of unease and hardship for the inhabitants of Manila.

There is yet an ongoing debate pledging and convicting different political powers and military interventions in the city of Manila during World War II. The US tends to be seen as the liberating superpower in this reference both – locally and internationally – while the Japanese are condemned for their extensive occupation of the city. Apart from this prevalent perception, other versions and interpretations persist and sometimes find their voice through new artistic and social initiatives.

This urban intervention – a bright red slide with a fallen soldier constituting its base -The Red Slide is located in the central square of the old city next to the Cathedral of Manila. It has come to be one of the most prominent and eye-catching objects in the context of Manila Biennale and continues to attract a constant flux of people. Apart from intriguing the masses, the work is aimed at raising awareness about the past and confronting the tensions of today. The piece of art is surrounded by various historical interpretations that overlap and become juxtaposed.

For more info on Manila Biennale:

https://www.artlink.com.au/articles/4670/manila-biennale/