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Miķelis Fišers Will Represent Latvia at the Venice Art Biennale

May 9, 2016

Out of seven applications submitted for the competition organised by the Ministry of Culture to earn the honour of creating and executing the concept for Latvia’s exposition at the Venice Biennale’s 57th International Art Exhibition, the jury has chosen artist Miķelis Fišers’ proposal “The Structure of Worries” as the winner. Alongside the funding provided by the Ministry of Culture, the ABLV Charitable Foundation is the main supporter of the Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale.

Next year, visitors to the Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale will be able to discover the narrative talents of Miķelis Fišers, who, in structuring his message, masterfully interweaves elements of fairytales based on contemporary folklore with a critical view of the social and political routines of the world at large. As promised by the exhibition’s curator Inga Šteimane in the proposal for the exhibition, at its centre will be aspects of the art of the self and existence, which chime with Carl Gustav Jung’s insight that, “encountering oneself is one of the most important things that a person avoids as long he can project everything negative outwardly.” In his Venice exhibition, Miķelis Fišers hopes to continue his experiments with a wide-ranging palette of artistic means of expression including painting, woodcarvings, spatial drawing and scenography. The narrative line of the works created for the exhibition will be based on Fišers’ characteristic interplay between modifications of the genre of science fiction and the paradoxes of social existence, rooted in pessimistic moral philosophy and unflattering to a thinking being. Therefore, the Venice exposition promises to be an intriguing continuation of Miķelis Fišers’ memorable recent solo exhibitions, which have proved to be a hit with viewers both in Latvia and overseas.

Miķeļa Fišers’ creative output forms an idiosyncratic social voice within Latvian contemporary art: sincerely ironic, insubordinate to institutional keys, and ambiguous in its interpretation. He emerged onto the art scene in the mid-1990s with a series of provocative installations, but in the past decade, he has primarily devoted his creative energies to painting. His solo exhibition “MegaMatter” (2012) at the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall was one of the best attended art events of the year in Latvia, while the artist was awarded the Purvītis Prize for his exhibition “Disgrace” at the Pauls Stradins Museum of the History of Medicine in 2015.

The submissions for the conceptual design competition were judged by a jury led by the Director of the Latvian National Museum of Art, which also included Art Academy of Latvia Prorector Andris Teikmanis, artist Krišs Salmanis, Editor-in-Chief of the "Neputns" Publishing House Laima Slava and the Head of the ABLV Charitable Foundation’s Arts Programmes Kaspars Vanags. While the difference in the number of points they received was minimal, the jury awarded second place to Raitis and Rasa Šmits’ inter-disciplinary project based on art and natural sciences “Marsh Radio”, and third place to Voldemārs Johansons’ acoustic spatial composition “Chorus”.

For the second time, parallel to the funding provided by the Ministry of Culture, the main supporter of the production of the exposition for the Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale will be the ABLV Charitable Foundation. In late 2015, the foundation signed a memorandum of intent with the Ministry of Culture, in so doing allocating co-financing in the amount of EUR 150,000, which will be distributed in three equal portions, thus ensuring Latvia’s participation at the Venice Art Biennale through to 2021. As the Head of the ABLV Charitable Foundation’s Art Programmes Kaspars Vanags, explains “The decision to become a long-term supporter of Latvia’s participation at the most internationally important art world event is related to the ABLV Charitable Foundation’s participation in a public initiative to establish the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art using private funding. It is planned that the newly-built museum building will open its doors to visitors in 2021. Therefore, it is important that during the preliminary work phase, Latvan artists’ creative output attains international resonance, which will subsequently be echoed in the museum’s operating programme.”

At the 2015 Venice Biennale, the Latvian Pavilion, which showcased Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis’ installation ”Armpit”, was visited by about 200,000 art lovers. In total, the 2015 Venice Biennale was visited by 501,502 visitors, making it one of the most prominent art events in the world. Latvia’s participation at the Biennale dates back to 1999. The Venice Biennale’s 57th International Art Exhibition will take place from 13 May to 26 November 2017.

Photo: Miķelis Fišers. Artwork „A Walk In The Moonlight” from the series „Disgrace”.

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