Ivars Gravlejs (latvian_animal) wrote,
Ivars Gravlejs

Documentation from the exhibition "There Will Be Dicks !" at FUTURA, Prague, 2014

Solo exhibition of Ivars Gravlejs (1979, Riga)
is the first incomplete retrospective of the
Prague‘s FAMU school absolvent living in between
Czech republic and Riga. Gravlejs here
presents photographies and videos he took
as adolescing pupil of elementary school in
addition of actions and interventions he made
as professional academic artist.

In front of the camera everybody started to
behave in different way. Most often happened
that the stronger boys started to torture the
weaker ones even more. They wanted their
activity to be documented.

It is the very school, as Thomas Bernhard
writes, which is the state school where young
people are turned into state persons. Walking
to school, I was walking into the state and,
since the state destroys people, into the institution
for the destruction of people. Whether
11-year old Ivars Gravlejs only documents
the brutality of everyday life in the school of
post-soviet transformation or he reacts with
a direct creative act, his position is always
the one of a subversion - the attempt to gain
at least a little of temporary freedom and
space in the situation with no escape. Ivars
Gravlejs re-discovered in his jokes from the
years 1990 till 1996 many methods and
procedures known from 20th century avantgarde
artworks. As if the position of a child,
which only recently started to mature and
thus is conscious of the violence hidden by
the hypocrisy of the hierarchical system with
pre-determinate roles of its different actors
was the main experience of the 20th century
human being.

From nowadays point of view I think, they‘re
the best works I‘ve ever created.

We still may find the position of a school
satire in Gravlejs‘s recent works. May it be
the only reaction to a world full of vulgarity,
brutality and absurdity - the one with the very
same means.

It‘s the end, what a gas, And who‘s read it is
an ass! I aimed to create a satira aimed at
certain social classes, not a nihilistic attack
on the whole culture, wrote Witold Gombrowicz
about his book Ferdydurke. Similarly
the use of vulgarisms or vulgar symbols in
the work of Ivars Gravlejs is never an attack
against someone (and so an act of violence),
but only the violence of a rule (and so an attack
against the system). The use of primitive
reactions as the ones of an uneducated person
is an actual necessity. Being an educated
and intelligent person Ivars Gravlejs knows
very well that there is no point in discussing
with the system, because the possibility of
a discussion is only another way it regulates
us. The only chance to fight the system is to
ignore the structures it uses to turn others
into state persons - ie mainly the categories
of „generally accepted“ and category of
"good manners“. Although Gravlejs‘s brutal
realism often leads to a chain reaction and
consequent revelation, whether it be the unbelievable
unprofessionality of the objective
press, unassumed xenophobic sentiments
or the acquisitiveness of some so-called
political artists, the most important is – as in
the case of intervention, which changed the
monument Riga to Píča (in Czech „cunt“), the
word which nobody except Gravlejs himself
understood - the freedom of the creative act
itself. It is not possible to defeat the school
and the state and human being cut from the
others with his name always stands facing
those institutions alone. From this attitude
grows also Gravlejs‘s peculiar in-activity,
frequent use of found material without further
modifications. Whether it be the point of view
of a 11-year old pupil or stolen dumpling in
plaster, it is this brutal reality, which in the
best way represents the absurdity of the
world we live in.

Michal Novotný
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