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Juris Boiko. Salt Crystals

December 1, 2016

From 3 December 2016 to 5 February 2017 the exhibition "Juris Boiko. Salt Crystals" will be on show at the Cupola Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art (LNMA). The exhibition is supported by the ABLV Charitable Foundation under the auspices of the programme “Support for Contemporary Art Exhibitions”.

The exhibition is dedicated to artist Juris Boiko (1954–2002), better known as a collaborator of Hardijs Lediņš (1955–2004) and a founder of the group "Workshop for the Restoration of Unfelt Feelings" (NSRD, 1982-1989). Juris Boiko's own creative activities in conceptual art were no less significant and intriguing – they included poetry, art and art theory. His field of work was broad, so broad, that, as Boiko himself said, it included his entire life.

Thanks to archival materials which have been carefully preserved by Boiko family and currently are at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art for research, the exposition will present reconstructions of the installations which the artist created in the 1990s using salt, glass, photographs and video. Salt crystal – the main element of Juris Boiko's installations – has been selected as the overarching theme of the exhibition. The artist was drawn to salt because of the ability of its crystalline structure to influence subtle energetic process in humans and the environment. At the same time, salt characterises Juris Boiko's career in the field of Latvian contemporary art, studying every phenomenon to its deepest layer.

Juris Boiko's installations were always situated in exhibition halls according to the invisible energetic currents of the space. “It is no longer about "art" anymore, but about nature's energetic correlations, (..) which we must discover,” claimed Juris Boiko, who was interested in the energetic properties of material, its primordiality and origins. On this occasion, the position of the lodes in the LNMA was established by Doctor of Geology Lija Bērziņa. Five of the artist's works have been installed in the main building of the LNMA in accordance with the positions of circular lodes – "Saltblower" (1990), "Saltambulism" (1993), "29 Self-portraits" (1994) and "Stikli Salt Lakes" (1998). The exposition also includes a new work, "Saltblower-2", which was realised according to Juris Boiko's sketches, in collaboration with sound artist Mārtiņš Roķis. The installation adds an improvised sound piece, at the same time preserving the author's original intention of a layer of salt crystals on which the movement of clouds is projected in real time.

The exhibition curator is art historian Māra Žeikare. The exhibition is organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with conservationist Evita Melnbārde. Exhibition designed by architecture studio SAALS. Main supporter of the project – ABLV Charitable Foundation.

The issues of conservation of contemporary art, which are raised in the exhibition, will be discussed at an international symposium (please register here), while the secret of salt crystal accretion will be revealed to children in educational creative workshops. Guided tours in the exposition will be offered to the visitors, providing deeper understanding of Juris Boiko's oeuvre and the project's concept.

About the artist

Juris Boiko was born in 1954 in a family of deportees, which returned to Latvia in late 1958. Due to his political untrustworthiness, Juris Boiko was not allowed to acquire higher education, but he attended Biruta Delle's painting studio Zemūdene [Submarine], studied with painter Ansis Stunda and earned a diploma of artist-designer in People's High School . Following military service, he briefly worked as a librarian at the Department of Music of the State Library of the Latvian SSR, and till the late 1980s – as artist-designer at Salaspils Botanical Garden.

Juris Boiko and Hardijs Lediņš friendship begun in 1963, when they were making samizdat magazines at school. The artists' common creative and thought space continued for the rest of their lives. Creative association NSRD, which they founded, was among the most important phenomena in broadening the understanding of art in Latvia – from 1982 to 1989, along with Boiko and Lediņš many other artists, musicians, architects and creative personalities were involved, merging actions, performances, video art, music and other forms. Following the dissolution of NSRD in the 1990s, Juris Boiko continued to work on his own, creating conceptual video installations, as well as being an art critic and curator. He translated from German and English, including, poetry of modernist and baroque authors as well as writing poetry himself.

In 2016, the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art published the sizeable volume "Workshop for the Restoration of Unfelt Feelings. Juris Boiko and Hardijs Lediņš", which includes an overview of Lediņš and Boiko's work from 1970s until the end of their lives, as well as archival materials and a selection of Lediņš and Boiko's writings on modernism and postmodernism, demonstrating their important contribution to the theory of contemporary art and architecture.

Photo: Jānis Buls. Juris Boiko beside his work 29 Self-portraits. 1994.

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