For Visitation Zone Edith Dekyndt presents a series of glass vitrines from Riga Zoo filled with fermented products of the Baltic pickling tradition, complemented by an occasional performance where a specific section of the exhibition space floor is carefully swept clean.
Upon making an initial site visit to Andrejsala, Dekyndt immediately saw similarities between this territory and both Nora Ikstena’s book Soviet Milk and the film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. For her, “these places and landscapes that industrialisation has inexorably transformed have kept, in the depths of their very substance, the residues, the alterations, the waves with which they are impregnated and which will remain for an infinitely long time, in objects, in the air, in the bodies.”
Before the Biennial appeared in Andrejsala, its main venue was a working industrial warehouse that was used to store grains, biofuel and cotton. The presence of these materials led to the gathering of sediments which have now largely turned to dust. Rather than erasing the traces, smells, and dirt from the space, Dekyndt chose to work with this material of the Biennial site. Cleaning is a banal gesture coming from the domestic sphere, typically a hidden women’s work, and usually done before the opening of the show. By highlighting it, the cleaning becomes a visible act of care towards an environment. The process also intersects different layers of the dust on the ground in an almost archeological manoeuvre, an incremental travel back through time.
The pickles contained in the vitrines were sourced in the central market of Riga, which has operated continuously since 1571. Consisting of the preservation of vegetables and fruits in fermenting liquid, the pickling tradition has been handed down from generation to generation in Latvia, being particularly important during periods of famine and war. The production process introduces another relation to time: here, fresh goods of the present are carefully preserved for future needs. As with the gesture of cleaning, it both accelerates and decelerates time, marking an encounter between different temporalities through the slowness imposed by the process of fabrication.
Medium: Site-specific installation of fermented products in vivariums, ongoing cleaning performance
Support: VV Foundation, Riga Zoo, Wallonie-Bruxelles International
Courtesy: The artist. Commissioned by the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, RIBOCA2.
Curator: Barbara Lamarche Vadel