Curated by: Zane Onckule
Kim?Contemporary Art Centre in collaboration with Art in General, New York presents Sea of Living Memories, first institutional solo exhibition of artist Ieva Epnere in the United States. The exhibition opening coincides with the artist’s two months residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), New York as part of the Kim? Residency Award 2016 programme.
In Epnere’s multidisciplinary practice—which includes film, photography, and sculpture—personal and private stories offer alternative pathways into larger meditations on identity, tradition, and ritual. Her new body of work, Sea of Living Memories, addresses the impermanent nature of identity in response to Latvia’s evolving post-Soviet society. For Epnere, fiction is a valuable instrument for exploring one’s sense of self, casting identification as the hybrid product of invented myth and historical narratives. The military heritage of the Baltic coast is of particular interest to her, as she investigates the struggles of former army personnel and local citizens—who came of age under a dominant Soviet regime—as they adapt to the new social realities of a contemporary system. In the exhibition’s central video work, Epnere highlights the delicate boundaries between individual and collective memory, and between nostalgia for the past and hope for the future, which are uniquely palpable in this formerly restricted region. An additional selection of videos serves as an archive of the artist’s research, presenting first-person narratives as told by residents of the Baltic coast.
In this exhibition, the installation elements serve as material reminders of the Soviet legacy, while internalized, psychological imprints of a restrictive past maintain a more ephemeral presence of equal weight and unwavering impact. Here, the geopolitical and personal collide as the familiarity of nationalist sentiments of “belonging” to the state come into contact with a globalized world. Epnere channels this dualism in the projection of desires back and forth in time, as the current generation lives double lives, navigating varying conditions and truths simultaneously, locally and elsewhere.
The exhibition’s central piece – a film titled “Potom” (“Later” in Russian) was created in collaboration with the National Armed Forces and the Naval Force fleet. The main character is played by actor Ģirts Krūmiņš, and equally a section of the Latvian Naval Force Fleet appears throughout. The score was composed by Edgars Rubenis, and the sound editor was Ernests Ansons.
Ieva Epnere (b. 1977) lives and works in Riga, Latvia. Recent solo shows include Pyramiden and other stories, Zacheta Project Room, Warsaw, Poland (2015); A No-Man’s Land, An Everyman’s Land, Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga and Liepāja Museum, Liepāja, Latvia (2015); Waiting Room, Contretype, Brussels (2015); Galerie des Hospices, Canet-en-Roussillon, France (2014); and Mindscapes, Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia (2013). Selected group exhibitions include Contemporary Landscape, Art Festival Cēsis 2016, Cēsis, Latvia (2016); 62nd International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany (2016); Identity: Behind the Curtain of Uncertainty, National Art Museum of Ukraine (2016); Something eerie, Signal – Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, Sweden (2016); BRUXELLES à l’infini, Photographies de la Collection Contretype, Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles à Paris, France (2016); SALON DER ANGST, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (2013). Epnere is a Fall 2016 resident at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York.
Residency Award is supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation and the patron Vita Liberte
Founded in 1981, Art in General is a nonprofit organization that assists artists with the production and presentation of new work. It changes in response to the needs of artists and informs and engages the public about their work. Art in General currently supports the production of new work by local and international artists through its New Commissions Program and its International Collaborations program with numerous arts organizations around the world. It also produces an annual symposium titled What Now? on critical and timely issues in artistic and curatorial practice.
The collaboration between Kim? and Art in General began with the creation of the Latvian pavilion exposition North by Northeast at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. As part of a programme of institutional collaboration, Latvian artists’ exhibitions take place in New York every year, and it its turn Riga hosts Art in General projects.
General Support of Art in General is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Toby D. Lewis Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The New Commissions Program is made possible by the Trust for Mutual Understanding; National Endowment for the Arts; Jerome Foundation; Ruth Ivor Foundation; The Greenwich Collection; and the Milton and Sally Avery Foundation.