2013 venice biennale #11

In the Latvia Pavilion, in the Arsenale, North by Northeast:

Krišs Salmanis – Salmanis’s singled out tree serves as a trace of the opposite, of the desperate struggle of a very small and economically troubled country, fatigued by massive unemployment rates and an emigration of its workforce. The removal of one tree hints at the immense removal of whole forests in Latvia, where the regular patches of wood felling sites disfigure and deform the rural landscape. (from official press release)


Kaspars Podnieks – “Rommel’s Dairy” – Podnieks’s photographs might suggest the notorious Victorian post-mortem portraits where the recently deceased were carefully propped up in order to capture their presence amidst the living one last time. Postures of these figures often appear unnatural, not unlike the ones in Podnieks’s photographs, after all it is highly unnatural (and physically uncomfortable) for people to find themselves balancing on a tiny platform more than five meters above the ground for their picture to be taken. Rather the somehow unnatural and restrained pose is determined by the setup, leaving little room for self-expression of poses. This extraordinary bodily experience leads to an altered state of consciousness and a certain tension reflected in the faces and bodies of the farmers, an air of intensified concentration that contributes to the overall uncanny effect of the photographs. (from official press release)

…from far away these hovering figures look like photographic portraits but as you get closer you notice blinking eyes, flecks of falling snow…i found it all to be a wee bit magical…(the noise comes from the neighbouring mechanism of Salmanis’s swinging tree)

2 responses to “2013 venice biennale #11

  1. Marga, this Latvia pavilion was from my favorites!

  2. hi Kate! yes me too, there were so few stand out moments for me and the “living portraits” were definitely some of my favourite works.

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