Kim? Contemporary Art Center
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Within the case in the cafe a curtain sketch by Juris Dimiters (1982)

The Case in the Cafe was a series of events initiated by Kim? Contemporary Art Centre in order to investigate the connection of abstract ideas by penetrating some specific spots (authors, works, events) of art in 20th and 21st century Latvia and beyond, which in the framework of this investigation process and still being left without the presence of the “big” theories works for a further construction of informative perception.

 

“Regarding performing „John Neiland” in small theatres, I have to say some words. At the end of the first act the figure of Reinhard appears like through the mist. This is done by placing sofa, where Leontine lies down, next to the window or door in the set. This area is screened off with several veils, and behind them the daring Reinhard will appear like through the mist. When one veil after another are lifted up like curtains, Reinhards figure becomes more and more distinct as if he were coming closer. – Klumpočs must not soap down his guests with a real soap, rather he uses some white powder since foam from the soap won’t last as long as it is necessary for creating a comic effect. – Smaller stages can modify the act in the riverside in such way that the audience doesn’t see the river, but they know that it’s behind the curtains. Over there Mother of the river performs her song at the end of the act, behind the scenes – likewise as at the beginning of the act, Neiland, while singing his couplet, doesn’t throw his fishing rod into the river, but behind the scenes, where respective prop is being attached to the hook. Furthermore, a small theatre can display the snow decoration by placing green spruces on the stage and covering the branches with cotton. Snowing can be mimicked by pouring down from above a load of finely chopped paper. The beer mug Klumpočs is so excessively drinking the beer from, is made with double walls – beverage is poured between them, making the mug look full while it’s empty in the middle. Such glasses are available in every respectable glass shop. – In the countryside, where the theatre personnel are scarce, some actors may perform two roles at once.”

 

Foreword to the Adolf’s Alunān’s fairy-tale drama in three acts and six scenes „John Neiland”, Riga, April 6th, 1884.

 

As art historian Anita Vanaga would say, this painting starts in Latvia the postmodernism or play in play for the sake of play, which not only hasn’t come to an end, but reaches even more profoundly and deeper the other way back.

Thanks to the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) seminar and The Arts Assembly, during the public discussion about the necessary improvements, The Case in the Cafe was defined as a precise / casual discussion about artworks with few people involved, precisely chosen.

The problem is quite peculiar or, referring to another designation pronounced in the meeting – „bullshit!”. Outside Soviet space there is a strong opinion that Latvia, along with other post-Soviet countries, didn’t have a postmodern tradition or, to be more precise, it is unclear if the discussion of this topic is even possible, since postmodernism in Riga is something quite different from postmodernism elsewhere.

Furthermore, one of our allies, the professor of hermeneutics Arūnas Sverdiolas, who’s essay „The Sieve, the Fog, and the Honeycomb…” have been recently translated into Latvian, on his part states that „in the post communist countries, postmodernism reaches far deeper than in the West. We are more radical in several aspects and, first of all, much more destructive and reckless”.

The Case in the Cafe this time focuses on tomfoolery in the Adolf’s Alunān’s fizziest comedy. In this production of Daile Theatre from 1980s we encounter the ironic stage design by Juris Dimiters („those who behind the splendorous curtain expect to find even more marvellous decorations are mistaken” – an excerpt from theatre criticism section in the press), accompanying the play, presented to „our overintelligent audience” by director Kārlis Auškāps.

In this stage design sketch from 1982 „John Neiland and Friends”, we see the director in a lavender leotard, „easy to humour” theatre costume designer Baiba Puzinas, „the gloomiest Latvian composer in history” Raimonds Pauls, and the artist himself – this very solemn person with moustache”.