photo: Adam Šakový, Ieva Epnere
Opening: 26 April 2018 7 pm
The exhibition will be open until 31 May 2018
Opening hours Tue – Thu: 3 – 6 pm
At the HIT Gallery, Latvian artist Ieva Epnere presents her videos on the subject of dealing with the Soviet occupation. Through the stories of the mixed population of the Latvian seaside areas, which consists of local residents and members of the army/navy representing various ethnic groups from the former USSR, we learn about everyday life, the various ethnicities’ symbiotic existence, and the specific rules of the border area. We also learn how collective memory is built on the basis of individual memory. Epnere has empathetically reached into the depths of the ambivalent history that has been a part of her own life to present psychological probes and case studies imbued with the mystical atmosphere of the Baltic coast. The sea becomes the unifying motif of the images – vast, both peaceful and rough. Eternal. By comparison, the local architecture underscores the passing of time: many buildings are ramshackle and have lost their original splendor and function.
The video titled Potom (Later, 2016) combines the past and the future as personified by the figure of a former Soviet navy officer, a ghost of the past who even today stubbornly continues to engage in his rituals from the past in an abandoned officers’ house. His existence could be explained as symbolizing the presence of “non-citizens” – former military personnel who have mentally remained in the Soviet era but who physically live in independent Latvia. According to unofficial data, about 14,000 former demobilized army personnel still reside in Latvia.
The video portraits from the Sea of Living Memories (2016) series are a narration of memories of residents of the Latvian border area. They reminisce about applying for permits so their relatives could visit them in the prohibited zone, or they talk about visiting frontiersmen as young pioneers or hunting for the scarce plastic bottles washed up by the sea as children. Regular people were not allowed on the beach. Similarly, in Slovakia prior to the revolution (1989), one could not walk around the Devín Castle and the village of Devín in Bratislava. Nobody talked about the occupation. However, in many mixed families, people speak both Latvian and Russian. And the Russian submarines and ships can still be seen close to the Latvian coastline, the border between the Eastern and Western powers.
The video Four Edges of Pyramiden (2015) shows how past and present overlap in the former mining town of Pyramiden located on Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. Pyramiden was founded in 1910 by the Swedes and was sold to the Soviet Union in 1927. However, the town went into decline after 1998. It became a tourist attraction in 2007, mainly due to the frequent presence of polar bears. Spitsbergen currently belongs to Norway.
Ieva Epnere was born in the Latvian town of Liepaja in 1977. She lives and works in Riga. In 2011–2012, she completed a postgraduate program at HISK (Higher Institute for Fine Arts) in Ghent. She is a graduate of the Latvian Academy of Art. Recent group exhibitions: 2018 Academy. Performing Life, Villa Vassilieff, Paris; 2017 Belonging to a Place, Fogo Island Arts; How to Live Together, Kunsthalle, Vienna; Festival of Contemporary Art, SURVIVAL KIT 9, Riga. Recent solo exhibitions: 2016 Sea of Living Memories, Art in General, Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY; 2015 Pyramiden and Other Stories, Zacheta Project Room, Warsaw; 2013 Mindscapes, kim? The Centre of Contemporary Art, Riga.