DNA Portrait of Latvia’s Recent Art History

An exhibition, created by Latvian artist Izolde Cēsniece, called "DNA Portrait of Latvia’s Recent Art History" will be opened at 6.30 pm on Wednesday 6th August at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art’s Office Gallery. The exhibition will be on view until 18 September.

Whilst working at Rīgas Kultūras vidusskola [Rīga Culture High School], the artist collated the opinions of high school students about Latvian artists, whose works were on show at three recent significant contemporary art exhibitions – the Purvītis Prize 2013 at the LNMM’s Arsenāls Exhibition Hall , ... for an occurrence to become an adventure at the Rīga Art Space and Grafika – S at the Rīga Art Space. Izolde Cēsniece describes how the project came about: “After a mere ten years, today’s high schoolers will be fully fledged members of society, the creators and consumers of culture. Or even non-creators and non-consumers. The majority of students, on enrolling in Year 10 at Rīgas Kultūras vidusskola, had not even attended a single exhibition and nobody had asked them for an honest opinion on contemporary art in Latvia, that’s why we went on our way and wrote up the reviews.”

Izolde Cēsniece collated the students’ opinions in a number of categories, imparting a colour to each – green for positive opinions, red – for negative, blue – for indifferent, yellow – for contradictory ones. The exhibition will show the aggregated opinions on each exhibition visited, as well as the high schoolers’ comments about individual art works. Izolde Cēsniece tells us: “Outstanding artists and outstanding works of art create art history, but what is it that makes them outstanding? Not just the creative activities of their authors, but also the laudatory or negative opinions of their fellow citizens and the coming generations. Only those artists, about whose art works a “critical mass” of opinion has developed, can hope to be mentioned in books about art history.” The author of the exhibition adds that there is a lot of humour in the exhibition, and focuses on the space that exists between the art scene and a major part of the community: “Within their own internal circles, artists, critics and curators often sense, what they think of each other, but a large section of the community exists outside of this circle, and they haven’t the faintest idea about that group’s understanding of art. It’s possible, that the art community is living an illusion, and a surprise awaits them.”

Izolde Cēsniece has been working as a visual art teacher at Rīgas Kultūras vidusskola since 2011. She gained her education in art at Rīgas Lietišķās Mākslas vidusskola [Rīga Decorative Arts High School] (currently – Rīgas Dizaina and Mākslas vidusskola [Rīga Design and Art High School]) and the Art Academy of Latvia, where she graduated from the Department of Scenography and Design. From 1997 to 1999 she participated in the LN Women’s League Project (with Inga Šteimane, Ingrīda Zābere, Ilze Breidaka and Silja Pogule), highlighting feminist issues in art. The artist’s works can be viewed regularly at a variety of art festivals and exhibitions, among them – at the Survival Kit art festival and at the Homo Novus and Homo Alibi theatre festivals. "Izolde Cēsniece’s performanes, installations and site-specific objects are often devoted to recent social-political issues or often – more general clash inbetween deep-rooted traditions and contemporary changes. Her strategy is to bring up conflict in ironical or playful way thus suggesting a solution „the one who changes will persist"," says art historian Ieva Astahovska about the artist.

The LCCA Office Gallery is open on working days from 12 midday till 6pm; entry to exhibitions is free. Address: Alberta Street 13 (7th Floor), Rīga, LV-1010.

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