THE LATVIAN EXHIBITION AT THE 57TH VENICE ART BIENNALE HAS BEEN OPENED
May 11, 2017
On 11 May, this year’s Latvian Pavilion Exhibition "What Can Go Wrong", which is comprised of 16 wood carvings, a large-scale painting and a large light and sound installation created by Miķelis Fišers, was officially opened at the Venice Biennale’s 57th International Art Exhibition. This is the second Venice Biennale in which the Latvian Pavilion Exhibition has been produced in collaboration with the ABLV Charitable Foundation as its main supporter.
On this occasion, the Latvian exhibition is twice as big as in previous years, and several days before the formal opening ceremony it had already been viewed by gallery representatives, curators, collectors and other art observers from all over the world.
“The fact that exhibition’s title "What Can Go Wrong" does not end with a question mark is deliberate. The artist has created a pause for thought so that each and every visitor to the Latvian Pavilion can appraise his past deeds from the perspective of the future. I would like to thank Miķelis Fišers for his audacity in daring to pluck the most hidden strings of human feelings, creating justifiable anxiety about the prospects for tomorrow, while at the same time balancing a sense of guilt and feelings of fear with the desire to take a risk,” emphasised Minister for Culture Dace Melbārde at the ceremony to mark the opening of the Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale’s 57th International Art Exhibition.
“I am extremely satisfied that the exhibition has been set up just as I’d envisaged, because beforehand it was unclear how all three parts of the exhibition would co-exist within the Latvian Pavilion. In practice, I can see that everything – the painting, the light installation and the wood carvings – functions well together and that a lovely harmony of materials and stories has taken shape. I am also delighted that the flow of visitors is moving just as I had hoped it would, pausing in the right places,” said Miķelis Fišers, commenting on the exhibition’s set up. Of the viewers’ emotions he’d observed, the artist revealed that, “Reactions have varied. There have been interesting cases of viewers talking to themselves – the title of the exhibition is mainly interpreted as the question of “What can go wrong?” – to which, with radiant eyes, the answer follows, “Everything!” It seems like they were expecting this question.”
In describing the Latvian exhibition in the context of the Biennale as a whole, curator Inga Šteimane pointed out that, “This year’s Latvian Pavilion fits in with the Venice Biennale’s overall artistic concept, but at the same time, there is a feeling that we stand out. The Latvian exhibition is in perfect harmony with the Biennale’s focus on specific languages and positions of thinking created by artists. At the same time, the presence of a broader vision and criticism of the ego, which is barely noticeable in other works, sets us apart.”
At the opening ceremony, the Head of the main supporter ABLV Charitable Foundation’s Arts Programmes Kaspars Vanags stressed that, “This is the second time that the Foundation has supported the Latvian Pavilion, and we wish to continue this collaboration in future until such time as Riga has its own contemporary art museum. This is the best way to ensure that the museum will contain works by not only talented and passionate, but also internationally recognised Latvian artists.”
The title of the exhibition "What Can Go Wrong" was conceived by Miķelis Fišers as a universal formula that the viewer can interpret subjectively: as a question, as a surprise, as history or as a prediction.
The exhibition is augmented by an exhibition catalogue, which includes sketches of works by Miķelis Fišers and all the works of art created for this year’s exhibition, essays by curator Inga Šteimane and Estonian artist Margus Tamm about esoteric narratives in Latvian and Estonian contemporary art, as well as an essay by Ilmārs Šlāpins on Miķelis Fišers’ desire to create the right state of consciousness in the minds of viewers.
The organiser of the Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale’s 57th International Art Exhibition is the Republic of Latvia’s Ministry of Culture and its main supporter is the ABLV Charitable Foundation.
The Venice Biennale’s 57th International Art Exhibition will take place from 13 May to 26 November 2017. The curator of the Latvian Pavilion is Inga Šteimane, the commissar is Daiga Rudzāte, while the producer is the cultural project agency INDIE.
Artist Miķelis Fišers (1970) has been developing his esoteric system of characters since the mid-1990s as a synthesis of opposites. They put one in mind of the academic and avant-garde tradition, the paradigm of onerous genius (uniqueness), and a light discourse of contemporary appropriation (ready adoption). Miķelis Fišers has received the highest award in Latvian visual art – the Purvītis Prize (2015) for his solo exhibition Disgrace. Miķelis Fišers’ works can be found in the collections of the Latvian National Museum of Art, the Finnish contemporary art museum Kiasma and the future Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as in the ownership of the LR Ministry of Culture and in other collections. He is a graduate of the Art Academy of Latvia’s Monumental Painting Department (1993) and Painting Masterclass (1995). He has participated in exhibitions since 1994 and has held 16 solo exhibitions. In addition, he has created stage designs and illustrated books.
The ABLV Charitable Foundation was founded in 2006, as ABLV Bank's main partner in the realm of charitable activity, in order to support creative people and outstanding organisations in their efforts to create a united and safe society in which responsibility is shared. The Foundation’s operating goal is a civic society, in the co-development of which it engages through support for programmes in realms such as contemporary art and education, the welfare of children and adolescents, and landscaping of the urban environment. Moreover, as the co-founder of the future Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, the ABLV Charitable Foundation devotes special attention to ensuring that the latest developments in Latvian art are prominently reflected in the international art world. For this purpose, the Foundation has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Culture, undertaking to be the main supporter of the Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale until 2021. This will be the second time that the Latvian Pavilion Exhibition in Venice has been organised with the Foundation’s support.
Held every two years, the Venice Art Biennale is the oldest, most important and one of the most visited art events in the world. In 2015, the Venice Art Biennale was attended by over 500,000 people. Latvia has been taking part in the Venice Art Biennale since 1999.