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The Opening of the Latvian Pavilion in Venice

May 10, 2015

On Friday, 8 May, the Republic of Latvia’s Minister for Culture Dace Melbārde and the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA), artists Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis and curator Kaspars Vanags officially opened the 56th Venice Art Biennale Latvian Pavilion ARMPIT.

In just its first few days from 6-8 May when the biennale is only open to art professionals, ARMPIT has already attracted a lot of interest, welcoming about 7,000 visitors and winning universal acclaim. This year, the Latvian multimedia installation spanning more than 80m2 is dedicated to do it yourself exponents with golden hands, who engage in innovation and experiments in their garages, without aspiring to the status of high art.

Curator Kaspars Vanags admits that in the first few days before its official opening, the Latvian Pavilion has already been the subject of great interest from arts professionals: “Visitors emphasise that the Latvian Pavilion stands out in comparison to the others by offering the opportunity to experience the work as an event, instead of reducing visitors to the status of mere spectators. ARMPIT’s viewers have the chance to experience the work physically as soon as they enter the heavy garage door and find themselves in the atmosphere of the workshop – walking through the building, climbing the stairs, hearing the din of work, experiencing the men’s video stories, and even sensing the smell of the materials used.”

Project executor and LCCA Head Solvita Krese explains that this year the idea and solution for Latvia’s work of art have resonated most successfully with the conceptual postulation of the central biennale exhibition, even though this only became known in May: “We live in an age in which we share knowledge and services. Handiwork has practically disappeared from our daily lives. However, sometimes in garages we find more creative manifestations than in the finest art galleries.”

She noted that the success of ARMPIT was also attributable to its team, which also draws on the professional support of other professionals highly renowned both internationally and in Latvia: architect Austris Mailītis and graphic designer Edgars Zvirgzdiņš.

ARMPIT is a sculpturally created system of structures, interwoven with the fragments of a video story. It was inspired and aesthetically refers to conversations recorded in video format with men who spend their free time in creative isolation in workshops installed for the purposes of their hobby. The opportunity to peer into this private existential space prompted the artists to use the environment documented in the garages to create a “distilled” version of this idiosyncratic micro-space for the Venice exhibition. In the work of art, the din of the workshop is generated by a musical composition created by musicians Andris Indāns and Shipsi (Jānis Šipkēvics), in collaboration with the Riga Cathedral School’s Boys’ Choir and the men’s choir “Gaudeamus”.

The Venice Art Biennale is open to viewers from 9 May – 22 November.

Project commissioned by: LR Ministry of Culture.
Main supporters of the project: State Culture Capital Foundation and ABLV Charitable Foundation.

For more information, please contact:
Marta Krivade, marta.krivade@lcca.lv, 26486312
56th Venice Art Biennale Latvian Pavilion ARMPIT Public Relations Manager

Photo: Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art.

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