The Opening Hours of Rent
Jana Kukaine, art critic
Izstāde "NOMA 00-10" / Exhibition Rent 00-10
Oskars Pavlovskis, Evita Vasiļjeva, Darja Meļņikova, Kaspars Groševs, Artūrs Bērziņš, Reinis Hofmanis, Justīne Jukumsone-Jukumniece, Nils Jakrins, Sofija Šellare, Galka Kūlio
04.06.-14.06.2009. In a former shop at Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela, 18
Although Rent 00-10 is primarily a display of bachelor's degree works by graduates of  the Visual Communications Department of the Latvian Aca-demy of Art, it also deserves to be considered as a serious exhibition in its own right. The works cover a wide range of genres, but they seem to follow a common logic, which would appear to be systematically nurtured in this particular department. Thoughtful, relevant to our times and intriguing - the intellectual processes behind Rent reveal a diversity of artistic solutions which occasionally reach a significant level of complexity, presenting a set range of subjects centred on the images, fears and illusions created by the subconscious, as well as various human states and descriptions of their dysfunctionality. Irony and humour in this exhibition were only glimpsed in passing, as the stakes in the game were high. In a clever move, Rent opened at midnight, when the doors to parallel worlds come undone, and mythical, mysterious and horrifying things begin competing with the light of the human mind.
Evita Vasiļjeva. La Fourchette morte. Installation (video, ham, sandwich sausage, table). 2009. Photo: Martins Vizbulis
Darja Meļņikova. Porcelain Trap. Installation fragment. 2009. Photo: Martins Vizbulis
View from the exhibition Rent 00-10. Photo: Martins Vizbulis
Kaspars Groševs. Noise. Video and sound installation. 2009. Photo: Martins Vizbulis
The bloodcurdling creature in the three dimensional animation The Room by Oskars Pavlovskis appears to have surfaced from such a dark place, inviting in its strange way any viewer - who dares - to enter the world of the work. Darja Meļņikova's installation Porcelain Trap is emotionally claustrophobic, with the artist finding an aesthetic in the supernatural and non-rational, skilfully employing a forest motif as an allegory for mental confusion and disorientation. A photographic series In Addition by Justīne Jukumsone-Jukumniece speaks about the inexplicable and the out of reach, and a similar mood is produced by Kaspars Groševs' video and sound installation Noise.  Declining to accept the privileges of comfort, the artists look for cracks in the veneer of life and thoroughly rattle the walls of common sense in the hope of finding a hidden treasure chest, a secret listening device or a virgin entombed in the Middle Ages. The artists are equally critical of themselves; there is not a trace here of the assured, deeply perceptive author, but rather the radical artistic viewpoint skews or unravels reality, or throws it into an endless whirlpool of reflections.

Each of the works featured in Rent includes manifestations of paradox or the illogical. Evita Vasiļjeva's La Fourchette morte, a flower arrangement made from sausages and ham, is somewhat surreal and nausea-inducing, and acquires overtones of healthy humour because of the stricture against playing with food. Sofija Šellare studies the basic human condition and deviations from this state, and in her work Memory Loss, which features a hypnotically rippling screen, analyses the function of consciousness, while Reinis Hofmanis' photographic series Model expresses human loneliness and its sad lack of compatibility with a world which approaches the absurd. Something slightly different (and theatrical and sexually charged) can be found in Galka Kūlio's garish large format photographs Caca Chinel and Artūrs Bērziņš' short film Dead End, to which I would like to give one more mark of approval for its heartrending annotation. The hints of sexuality, violence and physiological trauma are highly apt here, leading the viewer further down the channels of the subconscious, beyond the comfortable arm-chair, a hot dinner and soft slippers.

The genuinely comic and good-natured animation Bandits. Bank. by Nils Jakrins may possibly leave quite a different impression. The artist has utilised minimal resources and basic forms to depict a dramatic event - a bank robbery. This kind of plot has been so thoroughly covered and become acceptable in popular culture that it can be viewed as a visual artefact, requiring neither explanation nor translation of the dialogue between the film's heroes. The beauty of this animation is the ambitious scale of the event and the emotional pitch achieved in proportion to the simplicity of the resources used, and the artist deserves praise for the sensitivity and precision of his graphics.

The organic link between the ten contributors to Rent is strengthened by the small but pleasing catalogue, albeit with a rebellious cover. Although the artists have already managed to take part in various exhibitions both at home and abroad, it is possible that in 20 years time some art critic may comment on someone of this group of ten as follows: "This artist belongs to the so-called Rent group, which entered the creative arena in the first decade of the 21st century." It is also possible that history books will also mention, as one of the attributes of the group, the hairy man who invented these artists and then forgot all about them afterwards - as related in a brief, laconic story in the catalogue which sets out the concept behind the exhibition in literary form. This hairy man is the one who opens the curtains and airs out the bedroom after a nightmare-filled sleep, investing the exhibition with much needed ironic distance and a dose of humour. And lo, all the ten are standing there and smiling - now the proud bearers of diplomas.

/Translator into English: Filips Birzulis/
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