ARMPIT - multimedia art installation by artists Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis is a spatial monument to marginal everyday creativity. It was inspired by a sample of vernacular architecture with local character – the Soviet era co-ops of private garages whose owners have adapted them for the hybrid use as workshops-cum-dachas.


The closed microcosm of garage co-ops, where the socio-economic environment has blended with personal space, provides a step back in time. Men are still boys, but their tinkering is both the trade and hobby of individual entrepreneurs, since self-exploitation as leisure time activity is a time capsule where neoliberalism has enclosed the postindustrial proletariat.

Foto: Ansis Starks
The philosophy of  production becomes atheistic, orphan,
and inhuman.
In the techno-
cosmos nothing is given, everything
is produced.
Nick Land, 
Fanged Noumena
The story about garage men inhabiting the periphery of Europe is a pastoral of the digital age. The ability to take apart and put together a car engine is about the same as it was in 1845 for Henry David Thoreau to «borrow an ax, go to the forest, and begin to fell some rather young, tall and slender pine-trees» with an aim to build a hermit’s shack for himself. Owing to his journal, we have got to know a lumberjack by the name of Alek Therien. This simple and natural man for whom “vice and disease had hardly an existence”, fed chickadees from his hand and swung his ax with the élan of an artist.

For carrying out their idea, Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis have focused on gender-related stereotypes that are still alive in the periphery of Eastern Europe. The art installation is the embodiment of a normal male world – with emphasis on «normal». Hence its architectural fragments are made with a circular saw and crowbar, not shunning personal physical effort; and the spatial ambience is reminiscent of the boyhood war games played in tree houses or in the labyrinths of backyard woodsheds.
Woodsheds have a special place in academic art education in Latvia. In essence, they ensure that the common visual experience code of the national school of painting can be passed on. Because of the incidental character of their architectural composition, the northern tonality of colours and the motifs of quotidian realism, woodsheds seem to be the alpha and omega of the Latvian modesty-dictated sense of beauty. Generation after generation of art school students scatter throughout the small country towns as part of their mandatory summer plein-air studies to yet again reproduce yard scenes on their canvasses.

Since hardly anyone keeps firewood in the woodsheds anymore, many of them have been torn down. The remaining ones serve for storing all kinds of junk no longer needed in everyday life. Actually, they are ill-suited for the purpose and sooner or later the realization comes that most things are not stored but buried there. In some of the sheds, place has been made for a joiner’s bench. To the piles of disused possessions it delivers some kind of structure of purposeful filing. Being asked to show their treasures, the men will pragmatically go about the task of lifting out the doors of old refrigerators, hoods of cars or rusty lawnmowers like the still warm limbs of Lazarus.
Andris Eglītis

has studied fine arts at the Art Academy of Latvia, I.E.Repin St. Petersburg Institute of Art, as well as at HISK in Gent, Belgium. Although oil-painting in his art prevails over other media, he has done sculptures in collaboration with the beaver community at his country-house artist’s studio as well as innovative architectural installations usually built as narrative prototypes for his figurative paintings. Most of Andris Eglītis’ works reveal his interest in duality of the materiality and non-materiality of art as parallel with the duality of human endeavours: how people engage in all sorts of practical, material affairs and at the same time live a spiritual life. He has been participating in exhibitions since 2000 and has had numerous solo exhibitions in Riga, Antwerp, Berlin. In 2013, he won Purvītis Prize, the highest award in fine arts in Latvia.
Katrīna Neiburga

holds an MA from the Art Academy of Latvia in visual communications and has studied at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Sweden. She has been exhibiting since 2000 and has participated in the Sydney and Moscow biennales. In 2008, she was short-listed for the Ars Fennica Award and received the Purvītis Prize, which is the highest Latvian award in fine arts. A sizeable investigative video story Press House (2012) about an abandoned high-rise, which at one time housed the editorial offices of the printed media of the Communist Party of Latvia, attracted attention in Riga, Helsinki (Cable Factory Gallery), Budapest (Trafo Gallery), Tallinn (KUMU), Vilnius (National Gallery of Art), and elsewhere. Katrīna Neiburga has often closely collaborated with sound artist Andris Indāns. She has also worked on set designs for the Latvian National Opera, the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre and elsewhere, collaborating on the staging of Eugene Onegin, The Flying Dutchman, Lucia di Lammermoor and others. In 2015, director Alvis Hermanis asked her as a video scenic designer to collaborate on the staging of the opera La Damnation de Faust at the Opera Bastille in Paris.
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ARMPIT at the 56th Venice Biennale
ARMPIT at the 56th Venice Biennale

Production Team

Curator: Kaspars Vanags
Commissioner: Solvita Krese

Architect: Austris Mailītis
Graphic Design: Associates, Partners et Sons
Sound Artists: Andris Indāns and Jānis Šipkēvics (aka Shipsi)
Lighting Designer: Māris Važa (Krassky)
Cameraman: Aigars Sērmukšs 
Project Director: Kitija Vasiļjeva  
Technical Crew: Jānis Noviks, Mikus Bēvalds 
Audio-visual Technician: Vladislavs Gončarovs,

Māris Čakars (VPT Grupa) 
Special Effects and Stage Machinery: Forma Machinery 
Translator: Ieva Lešinska-Geibere 
PR Specialist: Marta Krivade 
(Komunikācijas Aģentūra/Edelmann Affilate)

ARMPIT was first created as the Latvian Pavillion ar the 56th Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy) where it was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia. ARMPIT California Edition was created for music and arts festival Coachella 2016 (Indio, California). It is produced by the Latvian Centre of Contemporary Art (LCCA).
ARMPIT at the 56th Venice Biennale

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ARMPIT California Edition

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