Venice Art Biennale
Venice Architecture Biennale
The Latvian pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition presents Armpit, a multimedia art installation by Katrina Neiburga and Andris Eglitis. It is a sculpted system of building constructions interwoven with video-stories about a peculiar local phenomenon, "garage elves", who tend to spend their leisure time tinkering with various mechanisms in workshops set up for this hobby.
How important is the relationship between art and the manual in the age of immaterial labour when the production of subjectivity through concept based commodities represents the primary and perhaps most important work of capitalism? Katrina Neiburga and Andris Eglitis provide some answers by exploring a specific version of maker movement on the margins of post-soviet economy.
The inspiration for their installation has been secluded garage complexes on the outskirts of Latvian cities. In last decades many of them have been converted into shabby dwellings and hobby workshops by communities of re-tired blue collars of planned economy and engineers from factories closed in the course of neo-liberal reforms. With the enthusiasm of alchemists, these fellows are continuing to occupy themselves with inventing dubious me-chanical devices or re-soldering microcircuits pulled out of second-hand gadgets. By manually decoding the manu-factured materiality they seem to provide an exit from the technocosmos, where nothing is given and everything is produced.
Andris Eglītis has created an improvised cast of the peculiar microcosm of the garage communities. It is a kaleido-scopic system of sculpted building structures, made of prefabricated building materials of the vernacular shanty-town architecture. The investment of his own manual labour - sawing, chopping, nailing together – has served as an opportunity to scrutinise industrially produced materiality and constitutes a step back/toward the real. The building structure is interwoven with the video narratives by Katrīna Neiburga. Her portraits of the members of garage communities reside as imagined inhabitants of the newly installed dwelling, which reminds a mixture between a convent and a sweat-shop.
This is the first collaboration of the artist couple, with each contributing through his or her usual artistic practice. Katrīna Neiburga usually works with time-based media, using them in her socio-anthropological investigative art, mul-timedia installations and scenography. Andris Eglītis tends toward the traditional in his choice of media; his desire to experiment with painting and novel sculptural forms has led him to turn to architectonic exercises as a bodily expe-rienced practice versus concept-based art.
Project is organized by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art which is one of the leading contemporary art institutions in Latvia.
Supporters: LG Electronics, Capital, Krassky, ERCO, If Insurance, Jelgavas ti-pogrāfija, Trigers, Cramo, Latvijas Zalais elektrons, Helvetica Bold VKN.
(Photo: Ansis Starks)