From January 19 to February 25, Kim? Contemporary Art Centre will be showing three exhibitions by Open Call 2023 winners. Kim? Open Call is an annual competition for emerging artists, artist collectives, and curators, and the winners have the opportunity to realize an exhibition at Kim? exhibition halls.
Opening on January 18, 6 pm-9 pm.
Sacral architecture offers moral guidance and a conversation about pain and hope. It channels, invites, inspires, and confuses; it stands up tall and propagates its content in the social landscape, forcing us to think about personal guilt and the Supreme Being. It tempts us with mercy and eternity, physical and psychological refuge, which it promises only to those who are worthy.
By joining a collective ritual, you get the opportunity to believe that you can become more agreeable to yourself or to something that is all-encompassing, that you can start separating good from evil, the desirable from the undesirable, and in reward will receive universal answers to the most important questions. Stories of the supernatural bring awe at both punishment and the form, color, and gilding of the decorations. Here, neither material nor words are spared on the path to salvation. Scare tactics manipulate and tame at the same time.
How should collective belief in religion or its absence be seen today, after a period in which it did not officially exist, while at the same time quietly unifying society, giving it shelter and refuge? How to interpret the fact that visual, spatial and sonic (or silent) elements can cause blissful delight, a tendency to marvel at the impressive space or the altar? Do we have our breath taken away by the aesthetic experience or the encounter with the divine?
Believe It or Not carefully considers the relationship between religion and aesthetics, at the same time analyzing the artist’s neutral (ambiguous – neither yes nor no) position towards becoming a practicing religious believer. The exhibition installation is built around a video made by combining fragments of collective and personal memories: Photographic documentation of the baroque interior of the Vārme Church, which burned down in 1971, reportedly after a lightning strike; and clips from Skrunda TV which shows Annemarija singing in the choir and ensemble in the renovated Vārme church, as well as text from the book Esmu ateists. 25 atbildes uz jautājumu: “Kāpēc Jūs esat ateists” [I’m an Atheist. 25 Answers to the Question: “Why Are You an Atheist”] (Avots, Riga, 1982).
As the artist has analyzed and memorized ever more images, the memory of the sacral building has become an emotional souvenir, and revisiting it calls to mind reflections about one’s choices and position.
Text: Annemarija Gulbe
Curator: Evita Goze
Annemarija Gulbe (1997) works with photography, video and installations. She graduated from the Department of Visual Communication at the Art Academy of Latvia and studied photography at the ISSP School and Andrejs Grants’ Studio. She was one of the winners of Kim? Open Call (2023), was a finalist in the BDO Young Artists Awards (2023) and received the Grand Prix and residency at the contemporary art biennial Jeune creation Européene in Paris (2019), and the FK Prize as best young Latvian photographer (2018). Her most recent personal exhibitions include: Under Stone Vaults in Domed Structures (Kuldīga Municipality Artists’ Residence, Alsunga, 2023), Challengeable Heritability at Look! Gallery (Riga, 2023); Love Re-searchat the ISSP Gallery (Riga, 2020) and the photography festival Organ Vida (Zagreb, 2019). She curated the group exhibition Decentrality Dispersed in One Place at the Padure Manor (2023). She has taken part in group exhibitions in Latvia and abroad.
Ministry of Culture, State Culture Capital Foundation, Absolut, Valmiermuižas alus.