Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself
New Museum, New York
January 20 – May 17, 2020
The New Museum presents the first institutional solo exhibition in the US by Daiga Grantina (b. 1985, Saldus, Latvia). Daiga Grantina creates large-scale sculptural assemblages that emulate the natural world, often resembling terrariums and vegetation. Her labored configurations employ synthetic materials and incorporate conflicting physical qualities: soft and hard, transparent and opaque, mobile and static, strong and weak. The title of the exhibition, “What Eats Around Itself” refers to the dynamic properties of lichen, a composite organism that results from the symbiosis between fungi and algae. Grantina draws inspiration from lichen’s many adaptive qualities, like coexistence and self-replication, to devise her material processes.
For her New Museum presentation, the artist premieres a new site-specific sculptural installation that interweaves cast silicone with paint, latex, fabric, and felt. Suspended from wooden planks and clinging to the gallery walls and floor, this work mimics the growth of lichen, which typically develops into a crusty, leaflike, or branching formation. The work’s amorphous structure appears to undergo construction and decomposition at once, much as lichen reproduces and consumes its own biological matter. Grantina’s sculptures also draw from the lyricism of poet Rainer Maria Rilke and his profound interest in the rose, which he viewed as an emblem of promise, possibility, and the power of art to give life deeper meaning. On his gravestone, Rilke’s self-composed epitaph reads, “Rose, oh pure contradiction, desire / to be no one’s sleep under so many / lids”. The central forms in Grantina’s installation resemble both rose petals and eyelids, evoking Rilke’s manifold interpretations of the flower as a conduit between vitality and sleep, life and death. “Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself” is curated by Helga Christoffersen, Executive Director, Art Hub Copenhagen, and former New Museum Associate Curator.
Daiga Grantina (b. 1985, Saldus, Latvia) lives and works in Paris. She studied at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Grantina represented Latvia at the 2019 Venice Biennale with her solo presentation “Saules Suns”. She has had solo exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018); Kunstverein Hamburg (2017); Kim? Contemporary Art Center, Riga (2016); and elsewhere. She has participated in the 13th Baltic Triennial in Vilnius (2018), the Vienna Biennial (2017), and Bergen Assembly (2016), as well as in group exhibitions at Musée d’Orsay, Paris (2018); Villa Vassilieff, Paris (2018); Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga (2018); La Panacée, Montpellier, France (2018); Platform-L, Seoul (2018); and Kunsthalle Mainz (2017).