\ A PLACE HARD TO PLACE /
VAGABOND \ A PLACE HARD TO PLACE / is centered around a dialogue between artists Indriķis Ģelzis (born and lives in Riga) and Elza Sīle (born in Riga, lives in Zurich), curators Zane Onckule (born in Stučka, lives in Riga) and Jo-ey Tang (born in Hong Kong, lives in San Francisco), and artist and composer Joe Namy (born in Lansing, U.S., lives between London and Beirut). Drawings from The Riga Project (1985) and the Vladivostok trilogy (1983–1989) by the late American architect, artist, poet and educator John Hejduk provide the conceptual framework where sculpture, architecture, and sound cohabit. Ģelzis’ and Sīle’s individual and overlapping sculptural forms and Hejduk’s drawings are re-imagined and transformed for a digital environment by architect Juris Strangots (born in Rēzekne, lives in Zurich).
VAGABOND \ A PLACE HARD TO PLACE / was initially conceived as a proposal for a physical exhibition – The Latvian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. While unrealized, the project has morphed, developed and found its way here, online.
In spring of 2022, on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of John Hejduk’s The Riga Project (1987), the structures of Subject and Object are set to be re-fabricated in its full-scale and installed in Riga’s urban environment. Organized in collaboration with Arhiteksti and RISEBA University, Faculty of Architecture and Design (FAD), the installation incorporates notes, designs, and sketches from Hejduk’s archive. Marking the occasion, a reprint of John Hejduk’s “The Riga Project” (1987) will be accompanied by a translation in Latvian.
Indriķis Ģelzis analyzes personal experience, as well as memories and art history, using three-dimensional models for bringing together and abstracting information which seemingly makes up a pattern of data but does not in fact yield itself to comprehension. Ģelzis’ research ends up assuming the form of plane and freestanding objects/figures, welded, bent and cut in the artist’s studio. Received his Master's degree from the Visual Communications department at the Art Academy of Latvia (2014) and graduated from HISK (Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten) in Ghent, Belgium (2016). Recent solo and duo exhibitions: Tatjana Pieters (Ghent, 2021), Castor (London, 2020), Cinnnamon (Rotterdam, 2019), ASHES/ASHES (New York, 2019), King’s Leap (New York, 2018), Belenius with Adja Yunkers, (Stockholm, 2018), SUPRAINFINIT with Viktor Timofeev (Bucharest, 2018).
Elza Sīle combines mental imagery with analytic divisions and builds up an interwoven vocabulary of psycho-spatial typologies in flux. In 2019, Sīle graduated from ZHdK Zurich. Recent solo exhibitions include those at GALERIE PHILIPP ZOLLINGER (Zurich, 2021); unanimous consent (Zurich, 2020) and Kulturfolger Zürich (2020). She has participated in numerous two-person and group shows, such as at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre (Riga, 2020), Kunsthalle Zürich (2020), Hamlet (Zurich, 2020) and Galerie Kirchgasse (Steckborn, 2020). In 2020, Sile was a recipient of the Werkschau Prize Zurich and in 2021, of the City of Zurich art stipend.
Juris Strangots is an architect and a tattoo artist. He has collaborated with artists creating exhibitions and installations in public spaces in Latvia and internationally. In 2018 he earned a Master's degree in architecture from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO). Since 2017 Strangots works at Hosoya Schaefer Architects and has developed several first prize architectural competition projects, such as the Savognin airport in Engadin, 2018 and the Primary School Christoph Merian in Basel, 2019.
Joe Namy is an artist, educator, and composer, often working collaboratively across mediums – in sound, performance, sculpture, and video. Namy's projects focus on social constructs of music and organized sound, like the pageantry and politics of opera, gender dynamics of bass, colors and tones of militarization, migration patterns of instruments, and the complexities of translation in all this – from language to language, from score to sound, from drum to dance. Recent exhibitions, screenings, and performances include at 1–54 Forum (Marrakech, 2020), Berlinale Forum Expanded, (Berlin, 2020), Minneapolis Museum of American Art, (USA, 2019), Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester, 2020), V&A Museum (London, 2019), Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE, 2019), and a monthly DJ residency on Radio alHara.
Zane Onckule is Curator and Programme Director at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre in Riga (2010–2017 and from 2020). She was co-commissioner of the Baltic Triennial 13 (2018) and co-commissioner of the Latvian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013). She has curated exhibitions internationally, including at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; Art in General, New York; Hessel Museum of Art, NY; CareOf, Milan; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. She holds a BA from the Banking Institution of Higher Education in Latvia (2004) and an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, NY (2019). Onckule's writing and reviews have appeared in Artforum, MoMA Post, Art Monthly, Echogonewrong.com, Kultūras Diena, Arterritory.com, and Foto Kvartāls among others.
Jo-ey Tang is a curator, writer, and artist. He has curated exhibitions internationally, including at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Centre Pompidou, Paris, FUTURA Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague. He was Arts Editor of Brooklyn-based literary journal n+1, Curator at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Director of Exhibitions at Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design, Ohio, Digital Community Manager at Denniston Hill, Woodridge, New York. He currently lives in San Francisco, where he serves as Director of KADIST San Francisco. Tang’s writing on artists and exhibitions has appeared in Artforum.com, The Brooklyn Rail, Flash Art, Kaleidoscope, ArtAsiaPacific, LEAP, and This Is Tomorrow.
John Hejduk (1929–2000) was an American architect, artist, poet and educator. He graduated from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1950 and in 1964 returned to the institution to teach in the School of Art and Architecture. In 1975, he became Dean of the School of Architecture, where he developed the school's renowned pedagogy for the next 25 years. He was part of the seminal New York Five together with Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey and Richard Meier. Hejduk is known for introducing new ways of thinking about space that are still highly influential in both modernist and postmodernist architecture today, as well as the serial nature of his works – projects where elements re-appear, continue and develop. Hejduk became one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, even though he built barely anything. Instead his ideas have been materialised by the collective efforts of various individuals, collectives and activist groups.
Elīna Drāke is Executive Director of Kim? Contemporary Art Centre. Elīna has organised more than 40 exhibitions, including ambitious international exhibition projects – The Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale, Baltic Triennial 13, the group show Barbarian in Paris at La Fondation d'entreprise Ricard in Paris to name a few, and worked with a number of upcoming and established artists and curators from around the world. In 2021 she curated group exhibitions at Hanzas Perons and Pilot Gallery. Elīna holds a Master's degree in Arts management from the Latvian Academy of Culture and is currently advancing her academic research at the Art Academy of Latvia Curatorial Studies program.
Evita Goze is Project Manager at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, independent curator, writer and artist. From 2018–2021 she managed the ISSP Gallery (Riga) and in 2017 she was the production manager of the contemporary art festival Survival Kit (Riga). She has curated solo and group exhibitions at the ISSP Gallery, Belgrade Photomonth, PHmuseum’s online platform, and the Self Publish Riga photobook festival. Goze received a BA in Photography from the University of Brighton, UK, and an MA in Visual Communication from the Art Academy of Latvia. Her writing has appeared in British Journal of Photography, Tjej Land, Kultūras Diena, Arterritory, Foto Kvartāls among others.
Artists: Indriķis Ģelzis, Elza Sīle, The John Hejduk Archive
Curators: Zane Onckule, Jo-ey Tang
Architect: Juris Strangots
Sound: Joe Namy
Voiced by: Amira Ghazalla
Sung by: Alya Al-Sultani
Website: Shadow Brand®
Video montage: Ieva Kraule-Kūna
Executive Director: Elīna Drāke
Project manager: Evita Goze
Produced by: Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, 2022
Kultūrelpa, VKKF, Kultūras ministrija, Rīgas dome
Nodibinājums ARHITEKSTI, Biznesa, mākslas un tehnoloģiju universitātes "RISEBA" Arhitektūras un dizaina fakultāte (FAD)