Notes on Self-Evident Things. Model Exhibition

08. – 23.10. 2016

in the Small Exhibition Spaces on the 4th Floor of the Main Building of the Latvian National Museum of Art

The title of the project competition exhibition Notes on Self-Evident Things is taken from a work by art by middle generation Latvian artist Armands Zelčs, which is part of the State-owned portion of the collection of the future Museum of Contemporary Art. According to Latvian literature and culture critic, Anda Baklāne, “Succumbing to leisurely philosophising, one could say that Zelčs’ folded bicycle chasing its tail symbolises the eternal return and the cyclical nature of things. (…) It seemingly plays upon the subject of “reinventing the bicycle”.” This object is characterised by constructive artistic language in conjunction with a mind that espies paradoxes and which, by the way, has been influenced by the impressions made by the virtual world surrounding us.

18 Latvian artists were invited to respond to this idea of a project generating paradoxes and cyclical patterns and to submit public art projects (models) on a scale of 1: 10. Accordingly, the work of art that could potentially be produced does not depict situational elements related to specific social or other trends, bit it is anticipated that the proposals will not only be interesting, ambiguous and universal in nature, but also such that they can be exhibited under an open sky.

The artists were given a free hand, not being constrained by the imperative to having to choose a specific location in the urban environment, but instead being obliged to submit an idea reflected in their model, which could later be adapted to urban conditions. The artists invited to create models for the competition were Vents Āboltiņš and Anete Dambrova, Reinis and Krista Dzudzilo, Kristaps Epners,  Atis Jākobsons, Ernests Kļaviņš, Kate Krolle, Sarmīte Māliņa and Kristaps Kalns, Laura Prikule, Līga Spunde, Reinis Suhanovs, Evita Vasiļjeva and 3/8 (Kristiana Marija Sproģe, Jānis Dzirnieks, Jānis Krauklis and Rihards Rusmanis). The winners were chosen by a jury, comprised of Juris Dambis, Gvido Princis, Agrita Maderniece, Māra Lāce, Aleksejs Naumovs, Helēna Demakova and the philanthropists Boris and Ināra Teterev.

The competition results were announced on 7 October 2016, and three prizes of EUR 1,000 were awarded to the following project proposals:

  1. Kate Krolle (1984). Beyond Distant Seas and Remote Mountains, Light Flows Underground;
  2. Ernests Kļaviņš (1977). Plato and Democritus;
  3. Krista Dzudzilo (1989) and Reinis Dzudzilo (1987). MMXVIII.

The descriptions of the exhibition`s projects

Ernests Kļaviņš (1977). Plato and Democritus. Steel armature, glass fibre, painted with inorganic pigment, 1.80 x 1.5 x 1.5 m


The artist has chosen to depict Plato and Democritus as representatives of mutually conflicting ways of thinking. Ernests Kļaviņš believes that Democritus represents materialism, which is characterised by scientific method and the presentation of causal links, while reason is the mechanical equipment of material. The language is mathematics. In turn, Plato represents idealism, which, in the case of this philosopher, is teleology and idiosyncratic mysticism, while mathematics is the basis of the universe.

According to the artist, “They are not caught up in a direct struggle; the materialist is laughing at the mystic who is not even looking at the materialist. He is ignoring him like the astrologer who ignored Occam’s razor.”

The sculpture is made from small cubes, which are reminiscent of pixels (technically 3D pixels – voxels) that have obtained a third dimension, which not only put one in mind of the pixelart popular nowadays, but also have a peculiarly resonance with both Plato and Democritus.

The pixels coincide with the discrete (divided, not continuous) universe of the atomists, while the reference to information technology puts one in mind of an idealistic world.

The artist believes that, “The conflict between scientific method and mysticism, mechanics and teleology, concepts of the discrete and continuous universe, and the existence and non-existence of the soul did not start yesterday, and will not end any time soon.”

Kate Krolle (1984). Beyond Distant Seas and Remote Mountains, Light Flows Underground


The object is comprised of a water surface (a shallow receptacle, dug into the ground; the height of the surface is the same as the height of the surface on which/in which the object is positioned) and nine balls.*

The water is in continuous motion; in other words, its channelling system functions according to a vortex principle, whereby it flows down a circular path and fills up along the edges of the receptacle.

The balls are made from a glass fibre material (material yet to be confirmed), which is outwardly reminiscent of a stone structure (a heavy and robust material). As darkness sets in, the balls “change” the properties of the material, i.e., with the help of a source of light, their surfaces being to assume the thin and fragile appearance of a membrane.

Kate Krolle’s environmental object is a poetic reminder of continual motion and mutability, preserving the independent power of basic elements (the conceptual nucleus).

* The surface of the water is formed by a vortex or whirlpool. With the onset of darkness, the stone balls become fragile. In other words, the source of light positioned on their inside creates the illusion of a change in materiality.

Krista Dzudzilo (1989 ) and Reinis Dzudzilo (1987). MMXVIII. Concrete or granite, height: 4.5×4.5×3.3-7.5 m


The artists have created a segment or fragment of road. It is a monument to life, because life itself is a road, and along this road, we find a sphere or ball, perhaps even the world itself. This ball is an endless new discovery. Philosopher Erich Fromm wrote about the ball and a child’s ability to take delight in it, every time it rolls. Every time, the rolling of the ball seems like a new discovery to the child.

The ball is also a “target” along a changing road. With reference to The Myth of Sisyphus, the ball incorporates the idea of freedom of choice, i.e. the choice of whether or not to roll the boulder. This testifies to the freedom of the spirit, offering confirmation that no matter what the time is; people always have a choice.

The title of the object, MMXVIII is forged onto the largest plate of the object, giving it a title like the cover of a book, which has to be read. The steps too resemble lines of letters and words that form text. The fragment of this road becomes something written or else a segment on which something can be written.

As we know, Roman numerals are formed from Latin letters.

MMXVIII is the number of a year in the future, in order that an object that is built now, is named after the future, and, having awaited this future, the title of the object will not only become the present, but later on, also the past.

This title – 2018 – has another meaning, which is related to the centenary of the Latvian State. It is significant that the last figure is vertical infinity. It constitutes infinite cycle.

Atis Jākobsons (1985). Memories from the Galaxy of Equilibrium. Object dimensions: 1.63 x 3.2 x 5 m. Materials: bronze, concrete and gold leaves


The artist continues his search for (and discovery of) ideal and secretive forms. He is captivated by geometric forms, light and unusual substances.

As Atis Jākobsons explains, “It is an object that continually interacts with the surrounding environment. While the image reflected on its golden surfaces settles down, the tiniest amount of light can turn into a glistening ray of golden light. Daytime states, the mutability of the weather, continuous movement all around; everything disappears within it and is reflected in a new form; harmonious, understated and orderly.”

Evita Vasiļjeva (1985). Space for Continuation. Stainless steel, toned protective glass, white concrete, reinforcements, 5×3, 5×3.5 m, base: 5×5 m


Continuing her exploration of the interaction between ideas and materials in contemporary art, the artist offers the following brief insight into the concept of her work, Space for Continuation is a repeat framework; the basic construction of a new architectural direction, whose building works have been suspended indefinitely, leaving a structure more akin to a sculpture or the genre of music than to a building that has been opened to the public.”

Kristaps Epners (1976). Exercise. Monolith, Cor-Ten rust metal, height: ~6–8 m


The artist has made the paradoxes of thought his subjects, demonstrating the materiality and immateriality of an object, its form and anti-form, its noticeable and obscure aspects, its rational and intuitive side, as well as that which is the result of design and that resulting from chance. He found himself preoccupied with the question of whether an artist was entitled to create another “item” to be placed alongside the existing ones. He asks whether a sculpture can be imaginary, what is an object of reflection; and what is worth reflecting upon?

The artist has been inspired by the gym, where he has spent a lot of time observing and filming not only gymnasts, but also their sporting equipment. For Epners, one of the most inspiring tools was the exercise mat.

Kristaps Epners offers a mat positioned on the ground with upturned rings (hung in the mat).

Laura Prikule (1977). The Ideas Park. Concrete, a tennis net, earth, sand, organic glass, wood, ceramics and plants. Court: 4×5 m, max. height: 20 m


The artist explains the concept of her interactive works as follows, “The Ideas Park is a place where ideas are planted and grown. Those that mature and flourish are played out on the spot on courts of various forms. In the park, ideas interact and form various structures, whose often absurd logic, visitors try to decipher. In the ideas’ game, there is little time for contemplation; you have to act.”

Līga Spunde (1990). Get Fit in the Park. Concrete and coloured silicon, 1.40 x 1.40 x 2.40 m


In this work, the artist tackles the relationship between the sculpture and the pedestal. On a pedestal, we find an object, which resembles a garden urn, while the negative form of the urn has been created within the pedestal. The sculpture concurrently highlights the wholeness of material and form, i.e., a uniform whole, which can have many variations.

Thus, the artist refers to both classical principles of creating form in sculpture, as well as to domestic processes in cooking.

She explains that, “In essence, the negative form of the sculpture on the inside of the pedestal makes this work cyclical. The work becomes renewable, as it can be filled and emptied again and again, just like one’s appetite, which arises through eating.

In thinking about appetite as a cyclical process, there is an evident parallel in that the garden urn has been created by combining cake, pie and other silicon forms used in cooking.

The conceptual track of the work incorporates not only the aforementioned forms, functions and procedural relationships, but also a universal quality like “being uniform in one’s diversity”, which is visible in the work through the possibility it offers to literally create any object using another one; in this case, a garden urn.”

Sarmīte Māliņa (1960), Kristaps Kalns (1981). I Can’t Grasp It. I Can Grasp It. Granite. Height: 3 m, diameter: 0.5 m


The artists have created a metaphor about the Tower of Pisa or campanile, which is a symbolic building, because of its angle. The tilt of the tower prompts many people to visit the City of Pisa to be photographed next to the campanile.

The purity of form and laconicism of the granite column created by both artists, and the play on words incorporated within the title of the sculpture, allude to the origin of thinking in (neo) conceptual works of art. However, oftentimes, and on this occasion too, Māliņa and Kalns demonstrate the inseparability of materiality from the idea.

Reinis Suhanovs (1985). Layer. Concrete, epoxy resins for surface texture, earth, 4x4x6m


The artist has created a figurative structure about memory and layers of experience. Reinis Suhanovs is pushing away from the past, demonstrating the continual cyclicity of destruction.

He comments that, “Each step forwards marks the end of the previous step.

To enter a new era, you must destroy the old one.

Through destruction, one can create; one can create through destruction; thus one layer accumulates on top of another.

Transformation of one material form into another is concurrently the creation of the new, and the destruction of the old one.

To live under development, means living on rubble.

Rubble is necessary to make progress.”

Anete Dambrova (1988), Vents Āboltiņš (1989). 90˚. Polished granite, marble and ceramics, 5x5x7 m


Both artists have created a simple and elegant post, resembling a totem. It casts not one, but many shadows. Its silhouettes do not match the silhouettes of a post, just like the behavioural habits of representatives of many other cultures do not conform to the general impressions of Western people. In this work of art, shadows correspond to a crown of palms, and, therefore, to a climate zone foreign to us; and possibly also to an alien cultural environment.

3/8 (Kristiāna Marija Sproģe (1993), Jānis Krauklis (1993), Rihards Rusmanis (1993) and Jānis Dzirnieks (1992). Navel of the World. Bronze, diameter: 6 m, height: 1.5 m


As their subject, the 3/8 group of artists has taken human egoism and each individual’s unique view of the world, creating a metaphorical sculpture with a belly button.

According to the artists themselves, “It doesn’t matter whether the Earth rotates around the Sun or if the Sun rotates around the Earth. No matter where our daily paths lead, it’s crystal clear that the world revolves around me.

The sculpture Navel of the World is dedicated to the complicated relationships we have with ourselves and the world around us.”

3/8 (Kristiāna Marija Sproģe (1993), Jānis Krauklis (1993), Rihards Rusmanis (1993) and Jānis Dzirnieks (1992). Back into the Deep


The group of artists envisages a slim jet of water being fired back into the Daugava from a single armature pole.

The idea is based on the legend that Rīga will never be ready. Every 100 years or so, a spirit emerges from the Daugava who asks the first person he meets, “Is Rīga ready yet?” If he receives an answer in the affirmative, then Rīga will sink into the Daugava.

Drawing inspiration from this popular legend, the artists intend to install construction site props in situ, thus confirming that Rīga is still under development.

The ideal location for the sculpture would be the shore promenade on Mūkusalas Street, opposite the National Library of Latvia.

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