• Graphic design: Rūta Jumīte

  • Photo: Ēriks Božis

  • Photo: Ēriks Božis

Skuja Braden "Selling Water by the River" – Latvian Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

For the Latvian Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia the artist duo Skuja Braden presents ‘Selling Water by the River’ – a rich installation of more than 300 objects, which features new commissions alongside work from the last 20 years. Curated by Solvita Krese and Andra Silapētere, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA), the exhibition sees the artists move their shared living space, located in the Latvian town of Aizkraukle, to the Arsenale of La Biennale di Venezia. This personal recreation will endeavor to address the shifting borders between private and public space within a wider social context. The exhibition is available for visits from the 23rd of April until the 27th of November, 2022.

For ‘Selling Water by the River’ Skuja Braden, an international artist collaboration born in 1999, between Ingūna Skuja from Latvia and Melissa D. Braden from California, have created a multilayered installation that maps the mental, physical, and spiritual areas of being and self within the artists’ own home. In doing so they hope to offer insight into different readings of the history of the Baltic region and to test the readiness of its current society to live up to the challenges of the present day, including the growing polarization of opinion. In the exhibition, home thereof is echoed by deeply personal images in porcelain, a material which the artists have mastered.

What shapes our understanding of public and private space, and what is our role in constructing these views? How can we fashion our surroundings to be as inclusive and open as possible? Where disagreements and conflicts often arise is where private and public spaces meet; a place where different values intersect. For example, the presence of the LGBTQIA+ community is still a sensitive topic in the Baltic and the broader region of Eastern Europe. Although times are changing, even within these regions, that which is different from heteronormativity has often clashed with conservative worldviews linked to a nationalist discourse within the framework of a tradition of a patriarchal society.

Co-curators Solvita Krese and Andra Silapētere say, “Skuja

Braden have chosen such a framework for their exhibition at

the Latvian Pavilion, because of the coming-to-be of their

unique selfhood and their queer self-identity and the time that

they spent together at a Zen Buddhist monastery in California

that has influenced it. Their confidence drawn from Buddhist

teachings, when mixed with a Californian free spirit and

experiences of post-socialist life into a singular mélange, helps

when it comes to finding solutions in these areas of conflict both

everyday situations and creative practice. Is the water different

in California, where Melissa is from, to the Daugava River, the

Latvian body of water on the banks of which lies Aizkraukle, a

town built under the auspices of Soviet industrialization, where

Ingūna grew up and where the artist duo lived and worked for

many years?”

The Latvian Pavilion is commissioned by the Ministry of

Culture of the Republic of Latvia, commissioner Solvita

Krese (LCCA), organised by the Latvian Centre for

Contemporary Art (LCCA) and executed by the creative

team: artists Skuja Braden (Ingūna Skuja, Melissa D. Braden),

curators Andra Silapētere and Solvita Krese (LCCA),

producer Kitija Vasiļjeva, architect Līva Kreislere, graphic

designer Rūta Jumīte, audiovisual solutions Alise Zariņa, art

handlers Aleksejs Beļeckis and Pauls Jēgers, light designer

Romāns Medvedevs, project manager Ieva Krūmiņa

(Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia), project

assistant Gerda Čevere-Veinberga, and the communications

team of Copywriter/Levelup (Olga Procevska, Igors Gubenko,

Jekaterina Firfjane), Sofija Anna Kozlova (LCCA) and Alexia

Menikou (international communication). Assistants in

Venice: Mariona Baltkalne, Dita Miska, Ketrisa Petkeviča,

Marta Luīze Skābarde, Agnese Trušele and Karīna Volbeta.

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Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia LCCA