Photo Report: The Opening of Latvia’s Pavilion at the 57th Venice Art Biennale


Photo: Agnija Grigule

On the evening of 11 May, the Latvian national pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale, featuring the works of artist Miķelis Fišers, was ceremoniously opened in the company of the Latvian Minister of Culture, Dace Melbārde, and other prominent guests. “What Can Go Wrong” is how Fišers has titled his project for the Biennale, and viewers can read it as they wish – as a question, as an exclamation, as a historical statement, or as a warning.

The narrative of the Latvian pavilion at the Venice Biennale is presented to the viewer by way of methods quite characteristic of Fišers: provocative artworks depicting mystical worlds, conspiracy theories, and esoteric experiences peopled by imaginary figures that are well known in the real world – lizard people, space aliens, and exotic demigods – as well as historical figures. Visitors to the exhibition will meet these characters through wood carvings, a massive light-and-sound installation, and the large-format painting “Breakthrough. Farewell to Selfness”.

Inga Šteimane, the curator of the Latvian pavilion, says that one of the most interesting aspects of Fišers’ works, especially in the wood carvings, is how the artist-created myth infiltrates historical events. “It is achieved through a detailed drawing of the setting, a precise rendering of a psychological reaction, and with the verbs in the title. If the reptiloids are treating depression in sterilized mermaids, and if the scientists from the grey race remove stem cells from cyclopses, then the myth is impossible because everyone’s busy with work and politics. In observing this activity, numerous questions of “why?” appear, until you finally understand that what you have experienced is irresponsible politics, removed functionalism, an angry ego, and an immense distaste for living in such a world,” explains Šteimane.

Artist Miķelis Fišers and Inga Šteimane, curator of the Latvian Pavilion

A catalog for the exhibition of the Latvian pavilion at the Venice Biennale has been published as well. It contains sketches of Miķelis Fišers’ works and all of the artworks created for this year’s pavilion; essays on esoteric narratives in Latvian and Estonian contemporary art by curator Inga Šteimane and Estonian artist Margus Tamm, respectively; and an essay by Ilmārs Slāpiņš on Miķelis Fišers’ wish to create the correct state of consciousness in the minds of his viewers.

The curator of the Latvian pavilion is Inga Šteimane, the commissar is Daiga Rudzāte, and the producer is the cultural project agency INDIE.

Miķelis Fišers’ works will be on view at the 57th Venice Art Biennale through 26 November, while has provided an overview of yesterday’s events. 

Dace Melbārde, Minister for Culture of the Republic of Latvia

Art collector Jānis Zuzāns

Commissioner of the Latvian Pavilion Daiga Rudzāte and Latvian artist Laima Kaugure

Curator of the Latvian Pavilion

Works by Miķelis Fišers at the Latvian Pavilion 

Miķelis Fišers. Installation at the Latvian Pavilion 

Solvita Krese, director of Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Architect of the Latvian Pavilion Roberta Fišere

Art collectors Jānis Zuzāns and Dina Zuzāne

Latvian artist Andris Vītoliņš

Latvian architect Austris Mailītis

Commissioner of the Latvian Pavilion Daiga Rudzāte, artist Ģirts Muižnieks, art collector and curator Māris Vītols

Latvian art collector Irina Vītola

Belgian art collector Alain Servais

Latvian film director Mārtiņš Grauds

Architect of the Latvian Pavilion Martins Vizbulis and Latvian artist Ieva Rubeze

Curator Andris Brinkmanis and  Odrija Fišere, Latvian Editor of 

From the left: Latvian artists Andris Vītoliņš and Miķelis Fišers

Latvian film director Kristīne Sniedze