Iron Forming Art: Exhibition
Latvia has a very strong aesthetic tradition. Internationally recognized for their skilled artisanship in the design arts; as weavers, basket makers, ceramicists, and silversmiths, Latvian artists such as Ojārs Feldbergs, founder and director of the Pedvale Open-Air Art Museum, are now becoming recognized internationally for their contributions to the dialogue of contemporary art. The designation of Riga as the European Union Capital of Culture for 2014 celebrates and marks the significance of the cultural contributions of Latvia to the European Union and the 7th International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art will contribute to the cultural celebration. The conference will contribute to Latvian culture and art, and the accompanying educational, technological and economic contribution of the conference will be a significant gesture of celebration and support for the people and culture of Latvia.
The primary emphasis of the 7th International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art will be the establishment and exploration of the aesthetics and aesthetic practice of contemporary cast iron art, through exhibition, ritual performance and integration within forms of landscape. As a medium for sculpture, the use of iron as a material for aesthetic exploration is fairly recent, dating back to the 1960s. Its use as a material for sculpture and the excitement at the introduction of its aesthetic possibilities can be understood in the context of other such innovations, including the development of steel and plastics as materials for sculptural exploration, or now the explosion of digital sculpture-making that we are currently experiencing. The relevance of any period of culture is usually only recognized in hindsight, after its effect has been analyzed and categorized through subsequent influence and academic deliberation. However, to those creating and experiencing culture directly, its only relevance is in the here and now. It is this aspect of the ICCCIA that speaks so directly to those involved: the creation of art is direct, immediate and within the context of a cultural community.
In Latvia, there will be many opportunities to explore and participate directly in the aesthetics of contemporary cast iron sculpture. The exhibitions feature inclusive opportunities for all conference attendees such as the Suitcase Exhibition featuring small-scale works brought by participants with the stipulation that the submissions are small enough to fit in a delegate’s suitcase. Other exhibitions feature specific themes or work solicited from specific sculpture groups, such as Savienošanas:Coalescence an exhibition of regional works and works by iron artists which will be shown at the Talsi Regional Museum. Exhibitions at the Open-Air Art Museum at Pedvale, in Riga at the NOASS Residency art space, and in Sabile at the Jewish Synagogue Contemporary Art and Heritage Space will serve to emphasize the relevance of and establish a precedent for the significance of contemporary cast iron art in the aesthetic dialogue in Latvia.
Durant Thompson – Exhibitions
Associate Professor of Sculpture, The University of Mississippi - Durant/at/olemiss/dot/edu