Arnis Balcus’ solo exhibition “Episodes” is on view at the 1st and 2nd floor of Riga Gallery from 6 to 25 September. This is the first solo exhibition of the London-based Latvian artist at Riga Gallery, demonstrating Balcus’ latest project.
Altogether there are 63 black and white photographs exhibited in the gallery that form three different photo stories – „Killing Rampage” (2005), „Enemy Within” (2006) and „Get The Package” (2006). There are also 2 video works on view – „High Voltage” (2006) and „Wrong Side Of A Gun“ (2005).
“Episodes” is altogether different form the previous series of snap-shot photographs “Myself, Friends, Lovers and Others” that was on view at Balcus’ solo exhibition at State Museum of Art, Exhibition Hall Arsenāls Creative Studio and made the artist widely known outside Latvia.
“Episodes” is Balcus’ new project that consists of two volumes of photographic stories “Volume I” and “Volume II” as well as videos. Balcus uses B-category film aesthetics and comics to create series of black-and-white photographic stories, dealing with stereotyped and banal subjects of love, hate, good and evil, sex and violence, reversing them and provoking a chain of new associations. In the first volume the artist speaks about the sexual power of woman and reverses the traditional ideas on the roles of women and men, but the second volume is focused on man. Videos are made as parodies of stereotyped images of thrillers and their predictable plots; in addition, they ask if photography can be as narrative as cinema.
Photographic story “Killing Rampage” is made in Riga in 2005, being a direct parody of the American director Russ Meyer’s cult film “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (1965), but “Enemy Within” is a story created in London in 2006, starring black actresses in leading roles that perform violence and lesbian love scenes. “Get the Package” (2006) is a story in the film noir style with the main character – a detective who is a gay and follows the trace of a mysterious package.
Videos presented at the show convince that no entire film is needed to understand the plot. The video “High Voltage” resembles the beginning of a full-length film and consists of the moving images as well as photographs. These refer to blaxplotation films that were popular in America during the 1970s. The plot was based on the conflict between the main black character (such as Shaff, Coffy, Foxy Brown etc.) and the white character. Arnis Balcus’ video adds irony and subtle paranoia to all this. The video “Wrong Side of a Gun” resembles the end of a cheap thriller – a short scene and captions is enough to inform about the genre, plot and characters.
The edition of Balcus’ photographic stories “Episodes Vol. I” is available at Riga Gallery and at bookstores in Riga (Valters un Rapa, Jāņa Rozes grāmatnīca) and London. It contains four photo stories – “Killing Rampage”, “Enemy Within”, “Mercy Croft” and “Four Sisters”.
Arnis Balcus participates in exhibitions since 1994. The artist had solo exhibitions at Matthew Bown Gallery in London (2005, 2006), Giedre Bartelt Gallery in Berlin (2003), State Museum of Art Exhibition Hall Arsenāls (2004), Fotogalerie Wien (2004) etc. He has participated in significant group shows like Moscow Art Fair ART MOSCOW (2006), exhibition "Power of the Body" at Riga Gallery (2006), group exhibitions at Giedre Bartelt Gallery in Berlin (2004, 2005), exhibition “What is Important?” organised by Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (2004), II Ars Baltica Photo Triennial (1999) etc.
Ieva Astahovska "Stilīgā "sliktā gaume"" // Kultūras Diena, September 15th, 2006
Eva Ližbovska "Ironiskas rotaļas" // Neatkarīgā rīta avīze, September 25th, 2006
Inese Zelmane "Dažādas epizodes" // Latvijas avīze, September 22nd, 2006
Ieva Zībārte "Negadījuma liecinieks" // Diena, September 7th, 2006
Pauls Bankovskis "B puses vilinājums" // Diena, August 18th, 2006
Romēns Forkī "Arņa Balčus fotogrāfiskais ceļojums" // Foto kvartāls, 2006., No. 1(1)
More information: www.arnisbalcus.co.uk
ARNIS BALCUS. Photo story