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Photo: Ed Reeve

Photoreport: Latvia’s exhibition receives one of the main medals at London Design Biennale 2018 0

At yesterday’s opening of the second London Design Biennale, the exhibition from Latvia – the installation Matter to Matter, by Artūrs Analts – was awarded the Best Design Medal. 

Photo: Vents Āboltiņš

After the awards ceremony, Inese Baranovska, the director of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, stated: ‘The London Design Biennial is a biennial with a new perspective – it makes one think about design on a broader scale, not just in categories of beautiful chairs or lamps. I was convinced that Latvia should definitely participate in this forum; I new it would be a place where we would be noticed. Artūrs Analts’ succinct installation spoke to both the jury and the visitors. It has received wide acclaim among design professionals.’

Artūrs Analts

The theme of this year’s Design Biennale is ‘Emotional States’, and it is Latvia’s first year participating in this event. Artūrs Analts’ interactive installation Matter to Matter was created in cooperation with the interdisciplinary design business Variant Studio, and was produced by the Latvian National Museum of Art’s Museum of Decorative Arts and Design.

London Design Festival founder Sir John Sorrell leaves a message on "Matter to Matter" wall

Inese Baranovska, the director of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design

Even before the Biennial had officially opened to the public, Time Out London picked out the four works that they found most interesting, with Analts’ installation being one of them.

Christopher Turner, the Artistic Director for the London Design Biennale and head of the architecture and design department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, commented: ‘This is an exciting work that references the Biennale’s theme of ‘Emotional States’ in a creative way. The installation speaks of time, loss, and momentariness because all of the writing left by visitors disappears after a few minutes – until new ones are written.’ He also added: ‘The Design Biennale affirms that despite Brexit, London is an open city. We’re not evangelical to the point of thinking that design can save the world, but we do hope that it can make it a bit better.’

In thanking the Ministry of Culture, Latvia’s Centenary Bureau, and the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Analts accented the fact that ‘Latvia has something to say in design!’

Photo: Ed Reeve

Matter to Matter is an installation that contains natural materials (wood, water) and reflects the role of nature in Latvian culture and day-to-day living. Its creator, Artūrs Analts, was inspired by his hometown of Riga and the nearby forests which, combined with the proximity of the Baltic Sea, make the region’s climate and air quite unique. This is embodied in the installation by a wall of green glass which, with the aid of experimental technologies, allows for the natural conversion of water from gas phase to liquid phase. Visually simple in appearance, the glass surface with its ‘magical effects’ becomes an interactive platform for communicating through the physical phenomenon that everyone knows as condensation. Visitors to the Biennale are invited to leave their own message on the glass surface, just like they did as children when the windows would fog up.

The Statistics Bench is also a part of the installation – visitors may sit on it as they experience the meditative quality of the green wall of condensation. Wood is Latvia’s largest export commodity, and the functional bench also serves as a visual communication tool that educates visitors about Latvia’s forests and national economy – different wood species found in Latvia were used to make the bench, with each species physically represented in the bench according to the ratio of its prevalence in the forests of Latvia.

Photo: Pēteris Vīksna 

Photo: Pēteris Vīksna