Memory and Landscape

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As Ephemereye is dedicated to moving image, we rarely branch off into talking about shows that are not. The upcoming exhibition of Baltica! group’s Memory and Landscape at the Old Biscuit Factory opens on 23 January 2020 in London, and will stay on until the 28th. It will include a multitude of work from painting to video installation and performance, and is curated around a particular geography — the Baltics.

As diverse a group of artists as the countries of the Baltic Rim are being brought together by another artist, Jude Cowan Montague, for a group exhibition. All of them have something in common: a connection or an inspiration that has come from the region. Artists from Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Russia and France are tracing their memories and visions, and bringing them together in one space.

Inspired by ancient folk songs, creatures from the rivers, meadows, hills and forests of the pre-Christian landscape, shadows of past cityscapes, and the post-Soviet history of the Baltic states, personal and collective memories unfold through and spill out into the art of today, creating today’s narratives. Are the spirits still there or have they been replaced by our materialized thoughts and deeds? Deeds that change landscape just as much as we change ourselves.

Jude Cowan Montague and Riitta Hakkarainen, Aino Väinö project.

Landscape is full of memories, and memories are full of landscapes. How do they communicate through the artists’ practise?

The mastermind of the show, Jude Cowan Montague was drawn into Baltic adventures through extended research for a novel about Latvian anarchists in London. She became aware of the rich myths and neo-pagan mythology relating to landscape in Latvia, and her family roots caused her to explore further. Jude took part in a few residences in the region, and the work done at that time brought a few collaborations with fellow artists — Meriliis Rinne, an Estonian painter, and the multi-disciplinary Riitta Hakkarainen who lives and works in London, but whose personal history is rooted in Finland and St. Petersburg. Jude invited a few artists to participate in the group. Most of them classify themselves as multidisciplinary artists, but very few stay faithful to a single medium. Cassandra Mahoney and Meriliis Rinne, being exceptions, are painters. Cassandra is currently working on a number of projects that primarily focus on the imprint of history on the natural landscape – specifically the shifting balance of dominance between man and nature.

Cassandra Mahoney. Oil, canvas.

​Ann Grim has a similar preoccupation, and her futuristic series Leaving Gaia acquires a global scale. Gzillion Artist is a British artist whose work revolves around sculpture and installation, and ecology is also his topic for the show.

Triinu Soikmets – who was born in Estonia although her roots go back to Finland, Russia and, as she puts it, “the gypsy tribe” – calls her work ‘narrative photography’; Finnish Silja Manninen is a fashion and textile designer with an interest in creating participatory works exploring themes revolving around social conscience. Natalia Jezova’s filmmaking is a dialogue with the disappeared, drawing on the ways existence is encoded in the landscape. Mandy Prowse works in a variety of media including drawing, photography, installation and textiles. Mandy’s She explores her relationship with her Latvian Grandmother, Natalija Lovett-Turner, who died 30 years ago. Veronica Shimanovskaya is another multidisciplinary artist in the group. Her work is a multimedia installation dedicated to her birthplace St. Petersburg, a city whose name has changed more than once. Anne Isaksson has recently undergone open heart surgery and works with landscape from a new photographic perspective as part of her recovery. The work complements previous series of paintings, drawings and video clips of the environment. Anne comes from Sweden and lives in London with her family.

A special guest was invited to join the London show — Jüri Arrak (born in Tallinn) is a legend of Estonian contemporary art, one of the country’s most praised and beloved artists. While his oeuvre is highly versatile – including artistic metalwork, carpets, installations and happenings – he is best known for his paintings and prints.

To learn more, visit the exhibition website at https://baltica9.wixsite.com/baltica or see the event details at https://www.facebook.com/events/903265903400497/, and if you are in London, mark your calendar for the opening on January 23, 2020 at 6-9 PM.

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Augustine Speese
8 months ago

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