Sunday, October 19, 2008


Here is my latest manifestation. I am wrapped in a shroud made of copper cloth, lying on a glass table in Riga's Artspace Gallery. I'm participating in a work by Canadian artist Catherine Richards, who is interested in the impact of new technology on the body. Just an hour ago, I heard her give a presentation as part of the Spectropia International festival for new media culture art and communication, and now I am lying here on the glass table, listening to the sounds of all the other art works, the voices of visitors, the occasional whispers of the two young women who carefully wrapped and tied me in the copper cloth... I am oddly relaxed, self-contained, even though I know that people are observing me. I remain cocooned for fifteen minutes and while I am relieved to finally be released from the copper shroud, I also feel a strange desire to remain within it. There is something meditative and secure about the experience - a feeling that nothing else in the world actually matters while I lie on the table, that I have left all other responsibilities behind me.

Over the last two weeks or so I have continued to accumulate extraordinary experiences. So much has happened in such a short space of time that it has been difficult to record and document everything - and now I have to catch up. I have been to Moscow and back by train, stopping at Vilikie Luki (which means 'big onions' in Russian) at 2.30 am to photograph the railway station so that I can say that I have been to the place where my great-grandfather, who left a family of six children to join the communists, died in 1941. I have waited in the rain in a long queue outside Red Square to see Lenin in his mausoleum; have got lost in the amazing Moscow Metro with my cousin Mara; have gasped with awe in the extraordinary churches in the Kremlin, and have been driven through the Russian countryside in a dodgy car with peeling vinyl seats, no door or window handles and the strong smell of petrol increasingly pervading the cabin. I have been a guest on Latvija's Radio Station 1 where I managed to converse in Latvian during a half hour interview. I've viewed passports and census information about my family at the State Archives, including seeing two pictures of my father's father for the very first time in my life. He died in 1932 at the age of thirty-seven and his baptism certificate from 1894 is in Russian, revealing that he was Russian Orthodox, something no-one in my family knew about. I have also viewed my mother's father's wages booklets from the time he worked at the chemical factory Rutenbergs, which later had its named changed to Metils - one booklet record his wages in Latts, the other has quotes by Lenin and Stalin on the first page and records the wages in Roubles. I have also been treated for a medical condition which took me to two different polyclinics, one some distance out of the centre of Riga where I had to have an examination that required a general anaesthetic (despite my initial terror, it was all perfectly fine and very professional). And I have also given a presentation about my work here at the residency.

Riga itself is awash with golden autumn leaves that workers spend all day raking into garbage bags that in turn pile up on the sidewalks and in the parks. I only have six more days left before I leave for Poland and I know it will be very hard to leave. Please watch for more postings in the next few days that will fill the gaps about my recent adventures.

The view from my apartment window


Anonymous said...

Brigita, This is all very amazing I've just glanced very quickly through your blog...first time I've been able too. Fascinating, I'm looking forward to spending proper time with it.
All the best


Anonymous said...

Two girls at Riga Art Space, who was wrapping you were students from New Media art department of Liepaja University.
Siltu ceļa vēju apciemojot Latviju.

elvis f.

Brigita Ozolins said...

Thank you Elvis - they did a very good job of wrapping me! It was great to meet you, to visit the Liepaja Art School and to talk to the students. I really wish I'd had more time in Liepaja - I didn't get to see everything I wanted to see - but I hope to be back next year for the Portrait conference. best wishes to you for the coming year of study.