A conversation with Sarmīte Māliņa and Kristaps Kalns, whose collaborative work What Do I Have to Hide, Sitting Alone in a Rose Garden is on view through August 14 at the Old Barn of the Cēsis Castle during the 2011 Cēsis Art Festival.
You drive by the new library every day. Do you like it?
Sarmīte: I like it from the opposite bank of the river.
But when you come closer?
Sarmīte: I’m befuddled by the little windows.
Kristaps: Now with all those workers there, it looks like an anthill.
I didn’t ask that unintentionally. Your previous work at the Cēsis Art Festival was a bed set up in an enormous organic glass box (Love Never Ends, 2009). That wasn’t the first time you worked with glass. Sarmīte, you once make a work called Unfounded Joy (1995)—a cone-shaped hole in the ground, covered with glass. It was driven over by a truck. Was that the first?
Sarmīte: I’m not sure. Perhaps the first was Language, with a mirror [1989–1996, collection of the forthcoming Contemporary Art Museum –V.V.].
Is this some sort of special passion for glass?
Sarmīte: I’ve always wanted to make objects from a transparent material. But there isn’t a material like that in Latvia—one that is large, transparent, and of a single piece. Not ice sculptures, of course. I’d need meters and meters of a glass mass, well, not glass, but something big and transparent.
Sarmīte: Maybe because it is the most unnatural material. You won’t find anything in nature that is so clear and sterile. Ice melts.