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Opening of the Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Latvian Pavilion, represented at the 60th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia by the artist Amanda Ziemele with an exhibition “O day and night, but this is wondrous strange... and therefore as a stranger give it welcome” has opened today, inviting the viewers to take an open and accepting stance in order to best experience her chosen original language of painting.

A cloud which fell quasi-dramatically, like tragic Icarus, a victim of an excessive ambition (his wings a Proustian memory-landscape in ruins); a lost petal in a corner, acting as a shelter in times of turmoil and uncertainty; a feeling never forgotten, a stranger-soon-a-lover, a much desired resurrection, or a tainted failure, the allure of loss… This is Amanda Ziemele’s newly defined painting as a spatial extravaganza of irregular geometry and organic volume.

Following the Shakespearian thread from Edwin A. Abbott’s 1884 novella Flatland, Ziemele unfolds the masteries of three dimensions in a fluid transition from flatland to throughtland by creating a microcosm of embrace and unconditional hospitality under thread. Throughout her practice, Amanda Ziemele has created painterly environments that are often choreographed across all parameters of a given space. In a subtle though bold act of subversion, she transforms the Latvian Pavilion’s interior into a living organism. Taming space and animating dimensions, Ziemele will welcome viewers into a polyphonic habitat of hospitality.

The Pavilion is curated by Adam Budak and commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, commissioner Daiga Rudzāte.

“Eight figures of heightened identity and monochromatic (sur)faces – an army of objectiles in a whirlpool of corporeal mise-en-abîme – stoically, and yet passionately, rehearse the genre of a conversation piece, blessed by “Flatland’s” gift of modesty and its belief in imagination and solid humanity [..]. Amanda Ziemele’s is an emancipatory project; against the preconceived discipline of space, the viewer enters an illusionary hybrid zone of sharing and solace, protection and vulnerability, composed of haptic forms in dispersion and collapse. Shells and nests, shadows and echoes, and supporting structures negotiating in vain; ambiguity of a sublime nature, between beauty and danger, an uncanny factor, abstract yet familiar. It is transgression at work: resisting gravity, forms levitate with both a joy and hopelessness. Hospitality is a critical act that is beyond the threshold of the possible – a paradox. At the confluence of absence and presence, daylight is an instrument inviting the viewer to a self-reflective journey through a world in disarray and with no measure, a displaced universe of mutual hospitality, a warped space where the other is a gift. This is Amanda Ziemele’s version of a mature space, a counterphantasmagoria, resisting exhaustion and fatigue, a space with an attitude, ready to think and host the irregular world of contemporary society,” said the Curator Adam Budak.

Amanda Ziemele’s project for the Latvian Pavilion has come to life through cooperation with the architect Niklāvs Paegle and writer Agnese Krivade. Krivade's publication complements Amanda Ziemele's exhibition in Venice, which unfolds the conceptual idea of the exhibition in the format of interviews and essays.

Architect Niklāvs Paegle described the exhibition as “eight figures caught in the space. Newcomers to this world, trying their best to exist; clumsy, tired but curious giants. Gravity is a new concept for them, they use whatever is at hand. Their skeletons are made of wood and torsos of stretched canvas, with limbs holding onto Arsenale rafters, shoulders leaning against walls. Oily creatures standing on tiptoes, centre of mass off balance. Here they are, testing and daring the limits of this masonry enclosure. Perhaps triggered by a sparring afterparty of escape from flatness, an awe to perpetual sunrise, or simply attempt to find their way of existing in this world, in this space, together. Bent, folded, wrapped and warped around themselves – some excelling at it, some exhausted and some just about holding on "to make it" in here,” he said.

Outlining Ziemele’s artistic expressions, Commissioner Daiga Rudzāte characterized her as a “unique painter in the Latvian contemporary art scene. “It is not easy – in fact, it is impossible – to place her within the framework of any tradition or movement. Her gestures are characterised by unexpectedness and challenge – but not a shocking one, rather one that is able to catapult its viewer, without them ever expecting it, to a place where a scene completely unlike the usual opens up. And from this point of view it is possible to understand that the ability to accept, to rejoice, and to welcome is what helps us live life,” Rudzāte said.

Latvian pavilion opens to the public on 18 April until 20 November 2024, and is located in Arsenale, Venice.

The Latvian Pavilion is organised by the “Indie” Culture Project Agency. Supporters and cooperation partners: Jānis Zuzāns (“Alfor” Ltd), Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, Embassy of Latvia in Italy, Investment and Tourism Agency of Riga, technology company “Tet”, VV Foundation, “Latvijas Finieris”, and “Arctic Paper”.

Notes to Editors

About Amanda Ziemele

Precision and modesty equal poetry in Amanda Ziemele’s painterly environments that are choreographed in a masterful way across all parameters of a given space. Here, the painting is a performative act: stripped bare, it wanders across the room, adorns the doorway, levitates over the ceiling, adapting classical architectural components by almost mimicking them in a freestyle embrace. Ziemele perceives her creative activity as an open time. Her interests lie in the formal qualities of painting and the field of ideas and contexts that accompany them. The artist uses spatially referenced installation techniques that create situational associations, using humor as a strategy.

Amanda Ziemele (1990) graduated from the Visual Arts Department of the Art Academy of Latvia, with a Bachelor’s degree in Painting. She completed diploma studies in the study program of Interdisciplinary and Experimental Painting at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts and was awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with a Post-Graduate Scholarship. Since 2016, she has held several solo exhibitions and kas been engaged in various collaborative projects as well as actively participated in exhibitions in Latvia and abroad. She received the 2021 Purvītis Prize for her exhibition Quantum Hair Implants. In early 2023, her solo exhibition Sun Has Teeth was on view in the Dome Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art. Her work can be found in several collections, in Latvia and abroad, including the Latvian National Museum of Art, the VV Foundation and Zuzeum, Riga.

About Adam Budak 

Adam Budak is Polish-born, Germany-based curator for contemporary art and writer. He studied Theatre Sciences at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland as well as the History and Philosophy of Art and Architecture at the Central European University, Prague, Czech Republic. He is currently Director of the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hannover, Germany. Previously he was Artistic Director of the National Gallery Prague (Czech Republic), the International Curator for Contemporary Art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC as well as the Curator at Kunsthaus Graz (Graz, Austria).

Budak curated a large number of international exhibitions (including Manifesta 7, two editions of Prague Biennale, three editions of the Biennale Gherdeina, Estonian Pavilion of the Venice Art Biennale, Polish Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale and many other). He also acted as the Commissioner for the Czech Pavilion of the Venice Biennale 2017 and 2019 and Czech Pavilion for Architecture Biennale, 2018. Budak worked with many distinguished contemporary artists, including Louise Bourgeois (Zacheta National Gallery of Contemporary Art, Warsaw, 2003), John Baldessari (Kunsthaus Graz, 2005), Sharon Lockhart (Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, 2013), Ai Weiwei (National Gallery Prague, 2017), Katharina Grosse (National Gallery Prague, 2018) or Paula Rego (Kestner Gesellschaft, 2022). His most recent exhibition is The New Man, the Announcer, the Constructor. El Lissitzky: Self-portrait as the Kestner Gesellschaft. In his curatorial work, Budak is focused on interdisciplinary practices, poetics of space and performativity.

About Niklāvs Paegle

Niklāvs Paegle is an architect and educator based in Riga and Vienna. He holds a Diploma from the AA School of Architecture in London. He is the founding partner of the architectural practice ĒTER. His most notable works include the Baltic Pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia (2016), the PĒRLE Daycare center in Cēsis (2021), the exhibition at the Design Museum in London—WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD: The world of ASMR (2022) and leading the project for the Mui Ho Fine Arts Library at Cornell University, NY (2019).

Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Campo della Tanna 2169/F Arsenale 30122, Venice, Italy


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Signe Nigale
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Latvian Pavilion / La Biennale di Venezia
Phone number: +371 29116146