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Le fragole del Baltico

Le fragole del Baltico è una rassegna di arte contemporanea lettone. Inizialmente progettata come complemento del padiglione della Lettonia all’Expo di Milano, è sopravvissuta alla sfortunata cancellazione del padiglione all’ultimo momento.

Kaspars Grosevs, Untitled, 2014

Le fragole del Baltico presenta una selezione di dieci artisti, per lo più nati intorno al 1980, quasi tutti al loro esordio in Italia: Ēriks Apaļais, Jānis Avotiņš, Ieva Epnere, Kaspars Groševs, Ieva Kraule, Inga Meldere, Daria Melnikova, Ieva Rubeze, Krišs Salmanis and Ola Vasiljeva.

La mostra non cerca la propria unità in un medium o in una tesi; si è formata a partire dal lavoro degli artisti. La sua cornice complessiva è semplicemente quella di una presentazione di opere recenti, già esistenti o create appositamente per la mostra, che abbraccia senza soluzione di continuità personalità artistiche distinte e media diversi: pittura e scultura, video e arte applicata, fotografia e suono.

Il titolo, la cui ambizione è di essere al tempo stesso poetico e ironico, è stato suggerito dalla vaga (e vagamente esotica) percezione dei Paesi baltici in Europa meridionale come di contrade gelide, sotto i cui cieli grigi un frutto come la fragola non potrebbe mai maturare.
Di fatto, le fragole e altri berries rallegrano regolarmente le tavole dei Lettoni dall’inizio dell’estate fino a tutta la ricca stagione autunnale; e l’arte contemporanea, che, a parte uno o due nomi, spesso neppure collegati al loro paese d’origine, è poco nota in Italia, è altrettanto vitale e presente.

Ieva Kraule, Nobody Dances Like That Anymore, still da video, 2014

Se la mostra non ha una tesi o un medium a fare da cornice, è nondimeno abbastanza compatta, e non solo in termini anagrafici. Rispecchia un gusto; il gusto dei curatori, naturalmente, ma anche un gusto più elusivo e difficile da definire, condiviso dalle ultime generazioni di artisti lettoni. Alcuni elementi tendono a ripresentarsi, benché in forme molto diverse.
Ad esempio, un’inclinazione a rivisitare il passato, sia esso personale e familiare o storico, come nei dipinti e nelle piccole sculture in gesso di Inga Meldere, che evocano vivaci storie brevi, o nella serie di fotografie di Ieva Epnere che raffigurano studenti che portano fiori ai loro professori il primo Settembre, obbedendo a una consuetudine nata in epoca sovietica.

Un forte sentimento del paesaggio, del tempo atmosferico, dell’alternanza delle stagioni, che si ritrova in alcuni degli arguti, ingegnosi video di Krišs Salmanis. Una malinconia diffusa, che aleggia nei dipinti rarefatti e meditativi di Ēriks Apaļais e nei disegni di Jānis Avotiņš, cartoline anonime da località misteriose, affiancati dal dipinto di una coppia spettrale.
Un particolare tipo di humour, impassibile e leggermente assurdo, un esempio del quale è l’antologia video di “guaritori televisivi” lettoni degli anni Novanta associata a una colonna sonora di rumore bianco, realizzata da Ieva Rubeze.

Il gusto per la decorazione, le arti applicate e per tutto ciò che è fatto a mano, che accomuna la tuta da ginnastica fatta a maglia da Kaspars Groševs, concepita come abito da inaugurazione; l’allestimento creato da Ieva Kraule per un banchetto da fiaba, con piatti di ceramica che raffigurano facce di commensali da cartone animato e stoffe dipinte con motivi di dolciumi; l’interpretazione letterale di Daria Melnikova della misura e della (de)composizione con immagini bruciate e tuttavia intatte, una ciotola di ceramica rotta già all’origine, o un foglio di carta quadrettata disegnato a mano.

E infine un’elusiva idea di domesticità, così come la disegnano le costellazioni di oggetti di Ola Vasiljeva, punteggiati di buffe gag: una porta che diventa una lavagna da un lato e una bacheca dall’altro, due assemblaggi di gusto dada che includono scarpe di vetro, un tappeto bianco su cui è preferibile non camminare, ma disegnato con motivi di scarpe.

Inga Meldere, Magic Mountain, 2013, 100 x 100 cm, oil on canvas, photo Jan van Eyck Academy

Allo scopo di amplificare quest’aspetto di domesticità, e di dare alla mostra la forma di una sorta di interno, i curatori si sono orientati verso un allestimento il cui gusto è meno prossimo a quello del white cube anglosassone del XX secolo che a quello del salon ottocentesco o delle case-studio degli artisti in seguito trasformate in museo, come quella della coppia modernista formata da Romans Suta e Alexandra Beļcova a Riga. Un allestimento che include muri colorati e tende, un sofà e una poltrona, piante in vaso - una caratteristica immancabile di case, studi e perfino spazi espositivi lettoni - e che suggerisce di leggere le opere (le fragole di questo “cestino”) come evocazioni e sostituti del mobilio e di altri articoli della vita di ogni giorno.

ARTISTS BIO

Ēriks Apaļais (1981)
lives and works in Riga. He mainly works in painting, depicting objects, symbols and cultural signs that anchor both in his private as well as collective memory. Recent solo shows include : Twigs (2014), The Arsenāls Exhibition Hall, LNMM, Riga; Inscribed Silhouettes (2014), Galerie Vera Munro, Amburgo; Words (2013), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; Art Cologne, New Positions (2012); Confessions (2011), Galerie Vera Munro, Amburgo. Mostre collettive selezionate: The Forgotten Pioneer Movement (2013), District Berlin, Berlino; Contexts of Painting, CAC, Vilnius. Apaļais The artist has been awarded the Karl H. Ditze for best diploma, the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg, Germany (2011) and DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) award for excellence. In 2011 he was nominated for Ars Viva 11/12 prize. The artist is represented by Galerie Vera Munro.

Jānis Avotiņš (1981)
lives and works in Riga. His practice encompasses monochrome paintings, drawings and occasional objects. They deal with themes like loneliness and alienation, with ghostly faces and figures reminiscent of Soviet-era photography. Recent solo shows include: Jānis Avotiņš, Johnen Galerie, Berlino (2013), Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Monaco (2013), Ibid., Londra (2013), Galerie Vera Munro, Amburgo (2013), Ludwig Forum, Aachen (D), 2008. Mostre collettive selezionate: Fobofilia (2015), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino; Ostwärts, Ludwig Forum, Aachen (2014/2015); Only here (2013), Collezione d’arte contemporanea della Repubblica federale tedesca, Bonn; Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union (2012), Saatchi Gallery, London; Is It That He Does Not Seek The Truth, But Does Want To Influence? (2011), Riga Art Space, Riga, e 14a Triennale di pittura di Vilnius: False Recognition (2010), CAC, Vilnius. The artist is represented by Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle and Galerie Vera Munro.

Ieva Epnere (1977)
lives and works in Riga. Her body of work includes photography, video and film, where personal and private stories are the starting point for artistic reflections on identity, tradition and ritual. Recent solo shows include: Waiting Room (2015), Contretype, Bruxelles; Solo Show (2014), Galerie des Hospices, Canet-en-Roussillon (FR); Mindscapes (2013), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia; The Green Land (2010), kim?, Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia; Darbi (2009), Kulturforum Alte Post, Neuss (D); Mikrorajons (2007), The exhibition hall Arsenals, Riga, Latvia; Encounters (2006), Atelier Hoeherweg, Düsseldorf. Group exhibitions: Ornamentalism. The Purvītis Prize (2015), Arsenale, Venezia: 61.o International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, international competition (2015); Bad Feminism, RPL Film Theatre, Regina, Canada (2015); 60.o International Short Film Festival Oberhausen,international competition (2014).

Kaspars Groševs (1983)
lives and works in Riga. The artist uses a variety of media and materials, such as – drawing, text, textile, sound, objects and installations in a constant search for formal solutions, aimed at shaping a coherent and intriguing message. Recent solo/two person exhibitions include : Qu'est-ce que ça peut faire tout ça (in collaboration with Ieva Kraule, 2015), Shanaynay, Parigi; OAOA (Jūras griesti) (in collaboration with Ola Vasiljeva, 2014), Jūras Vārti, Ventspils; 00:10:00:00 (2013), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; I/O. Without Enemies (2011), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga e H (2012), Kanepes Culture Centre, Riga. Group shows: Lily's Pool (2015), Art In General, New York; Vortex (2014), Project Space Garage, Mosca e Aspen-Kemmern (2014), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga. He infrequently performs with his music and contributes texts to the Latvian cultural press and exhibition catalogs. Groševs is a co-founder and curator of gallery Four To Seven (427) in Riga.

Ieva Kraule (1987)
lives and works in Riga. By using different media including photography, video, ceramics and painting she references applied arts and architecture of the Soviet era while tracing out the origins of both personal and collective aesthetic codes. Recent solo exhibitions include : Nobody dances like that anymore (2014), galleria 427, Riga; …if all you told was turned to gold (2014), Vita Kuben, Umeå; Loneliness will be my greatest treasure (2014), Kalnciema kvartāls gallery, Riga; 11 out of 10 (2013), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, e Long Awaited Holidays by the Abyss of Fictitious Memories (2012), galleria Bastejs, Riga. Group exhibitioons: Lily's Pool (2015), Art In General, New York; Vortex (2014), Project Space Garage, Moscow, e Aspen-Kemmern (2014), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga. Kraule is a co-founder and curator of gallery Four To Seven (427) in Riga.

Inga Meldere (1979)
lives and works in Helsinki and Riga. She works mainly with painting. Her gently coated canvases, characterized by their light and pastel tones, fragile combinations of materials and techniques, often depict apparently naive-seeming narratives inspired by personal memories and family events. Recent solo exhibitions: Berzkalni (2015), galleria G12, Helsinki; Magic Mountain (2014), galleria XO, Riga; Untitled (2013) con Oscar Santillan, galleria Temnikova & Kasela, Tallinn; Enough is Enough (2011) con Mikko Hintz, galleria Temnikova & Kasela; Offset (2011), galleria XO, Riga. Mostre collettive selezionate: Tides of Change. Balticum (2011) HangART-7, Salisburgo; FAX (2011), South London Gallery, Londra; Mother of Wind (2010) galleria HFBK, Amburgo. Meldere’s work was also included in the Vilnius Painting Triennial in 2010.

Daria Melnikova (1984) v)
lives and works in Riga. By using sculpture, design, printmaking and mixed techniques she creates spatial and at times puzzling installations where beauty and intrigue, the handmade and the mass-produced are in balance. Recent solo exhibitions include : Brewing Harmony (2014), galleria Vita Kuben, Umeå (SE); A Green Silhouette of Grey (2014), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga e Dashing Lines and Forming Heaps (2011), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga. Group exhibitions: Lily's Pool (2015), Art In General, New York; Literacy-Illiteracy (2014) nel contesto della 16a Triennale dell’incisione di Tallinn, KUMU, Tallinn; Present Tense (2014), Kalmar konstmuseum, Kalmar; Aspen–Kemmern (2014), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; Vortex (2014), Project Space Garage, Moscow; Sculpture Is Space (2013), Hobusepea, Tallinn e 24 Spaces – Cacophony (2013), Malmö Konsthall, Malmo. Melnikova has received the first kim? Residency Award (2015) and is in residency at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin from May till July.

Krišs Salmanis (1977)
lives and works in Riga. He works with the media of photography, video, installation, animation and graphic art, creating conceptually charged accumulations-sets characterized by attention to detail and intellectual sharpness of wit. Together with Kaspars Podnieks, Salmanis was part of the exposition for the Latvian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. Latest solo exhibitions include : 100 Books You Need Not Read Before You Die (2015), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; North by Northeast. The Deconstruction of the Pavilion (con Kaspars Podnieks, 2014), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; Light (2012), CAC Vilnius; The Fragility of Trust (2012), galleria Alma, Riga, Latvia; The Earth may be spinning around the Sun, but the World is turning around me (2011), Raum linksrechts, Amburgo; Moving Landscape (2011), Galerie fűr Gegenwartskunst, Brema. He’s a regular contributor to the visual arts magazine Studija and other daily press. The artist is represented by Gallery Alma.

Ieva Rubeze (1977)
lives and works in Riga. Her work – poetic videos and installations – are characterized by a clear conceptual core, revelation of thought paradoxes, wit and an extraordinary, timeless radiance. As a member of the artist group Famous Five (together with Rubeze, Līga Marcinkeviča and Mārtiņš Ratniks) she has represented Latvia in Sao Paulo Biennial, Venice Biennale (2005) and group shows, including Buket (2008), Mosca, Time Will Show (2008), Flensburge , Rīga dimd! (2010), Rostock. In 2014 she won the competition Riga Smiles Again organized by the Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation in the framework of the program Art in Public Space and her proposed artwork (Ghost) will be implemented in the Riga urban environment in 2015.

Ola Vasiljeva (1981)
is a Latvian-born artist living and working in Amsterdam. Vasiļjeva’s practice encompasses and crosses video, sculpture, music and texts. Her works engage with references to craft, music, subcultures and literature. Recent solo exhibitions include : University (2015), Galerie Antoine Levi, Parigi; The Limp of A Letter (2015), BOZAR, Bruxelles; Jargot (2014), New York; Cinq à sept (2013), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga. Mostre collettive selezionate: Society Acts - The Moderna exhibition 2 (2014), Moderna Museet, Malmö; Last Seen Entering the Biltmore (2014), South London Gallery, Londra; What Were You Expecting, Mr. Milquetoast, a Plot? (2014), Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; Material Information (2012), Bergen Kunstmuseum. Vasiljeva is a founding member of the artist collective The Oceans Academy of Arts and the publisher of OAOA Magazine. In 2014 she was nominated for the Prix de Rome. Ola Vasiljeva is represented by Galerie Antoine Levi, Paris.

Curators

Simone Menegoi (1970)
is a critic and curator based in Milan and Verona. Since 2005, he has curated exhibitions in private and public spaces in Italy and abroad. Recent exhibitions include : The Camera’s Blind Spot II, Extra City Kunsthal, Anversa, 2015; The Warm Statues. Sculpture – Body – Action, 1945-2013, Museo Marino Marini (Firenze), 2014; Michael E. Smith, Triennale di Milano, 2014; The Camera’s Blind Spot. Sculpture - Photography: Recent Examples, Museo d’Arte della Provincia di Nuoro, 2013; LE SILENCE Une fiction, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, 2012; Bouvard and Pecuchet’s Compendious Quest for Beauty (co-curata con Chris Sharp), David Roberts Art Foundation (Londra), 2012. He has written essays that have appeared in the publications of a number of international institutions, such as Tel Aviv Art Museum, Ludwig Museum (Budapest), New Museum (New York), la Fondazione Galleria Civica di Trento, Kunstforum Aachen, iCamden Arts Centre (Londra), la Fondazione Prada (Milano e Venezia). He contributes regularly to artforum.com.

Zane Onckule (1982)
is a curator, occasional critic and Programme Director at kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga since 2010. She has organised, curated and co-curated exhibitions, parallel programming as well as edited publications and other corresponding materials in collaboration with wide range of artists, curators and theoreticians. She was a co-commissioner of Latvian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale organized in partnership with Art in General di New York. Recent curatorial activities include curating Ulla von Brandenburg, Sink Down Mountain, Raise Up Valley (2015), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; Lily's Pool (2015), Art in General, New York; Ola Vasiljeva, Jargot (2014), Art in General, New York e Little Vera, a duo show by Sanya Kantarosvky and Ella Kruglyanskaya (2014), kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga.

kim? Contemporary Art Centre (Riga)
founded in 2009, offers a range of activities including exhibitions, lectures, talks, publications and other events related to recent art, theory and social issues introduced by the means of a local and international corpus of ideas, beliefs and individuals. kim? supports the development of emerging artists, theoreticians, curators, philosophers, translators and thinkers of other spheres aiming to provide a responsive context to their work and to make critical practices accessible to a wider audience. In 2013 kim? headed the Latvian Pavilion at the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale in collaboration with Art in General. Recent collaborations partners in organizing exhibitions at kim? and internationally include Moderna Museet Malmo in Malmo, Art in General in New York, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and others. In 2015 kim? Residency Award was launched in collaboration with KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the ISCP International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York and Gasworks, Gallery, Studios and International Residency Programme in London