When faced with the looming threat of the spread of COVID-19, the team behind the Riga Biennial were faced with two choices: postpone the event until things had returned to normal, or press on ahead, accepting these new unforeseen limitations in order to attempt to respond to a rapidly developing situation.
Opting for the latter, the theme of the second edition of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art became and suddenly it all blossoms, a investigation into the place of art in crisis and whether an exhibition in the time of coronavirus can be something that “accommodates and integrates the precarity and reality unfolding outside its traditionally protected walls.”
It was with this in mind that Belgian artist Eva L’Hoest created her newest video work, The Inmost Cell. Collaborating with John Also Bennett, who contributes a gorgeous and evocative synth score, the work is a response to the myths surrounding the Daugava River, which flows through Riga.
Through a painterly application of 3D modelling and CGI, L’Hoest explores the mythical ruins of abandoned settlements submerged in the depths of the Daugava, drawing on Latvian mythology to tell stories washed away by history. By fusing rural and maritime imagery, L’Hoest relocates imagery captured in the outskirts of Riga into an aquatic context, dislocating the underwater ruins she creates from space and time.
Slow panning shots reveal the intricacies of L’Hoest’s digital architecture, as a cast of disembodied voices narrate personal histories, evoking a nostalgia for a place that now lies ruined. Referencing Fata Morgana, an optical illusion named after the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, the artist imbues the images we are presented with a shifting, hallucinatory quality.
The work features text from Eva Mancuso and is voiced by Iveta Pole, Stav Yeini and Michael Debatty. The Inmost Cell is a new commission for the second edition of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art.
For more information about Eva L’Hoest and her work, you can visit her website.
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Source: FACT Magazine