Crouching in a small hatch, away from the sawing noises coming from the video portion of their installation called "Armpit," Lavtian artists—and partners—Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis discuss their work, which was produced by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, for this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Chaotic in appearance, they affectionately describe the structure, that was originally constructed in 2015 as the Latvian Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Bienniale, as a "dream tree house."
Mainly made of salvaged wood and old Soviet-era furniture, the 28-foot-tall installation does indeed look like a tree house you would expect to find a "boys only" sign on, despite its spaceship-like interior. It was inspired by the garages, or makeshift sheds, that groups of Latvian men gather in to do handiwork, play games, build folly objects, or sometimes conduct business.
"The garage is very popular in our country that comes from Soviet times. It is like cities within a city," says Neiburga who took an anthropological approach to the project by interviewing and observing the men who spend so much time in these spaces. She was able to incorporate quotes through video installations on 15 outdated computer screens embedded into the inner walls of "Armpit."
Eglītis took a more architectural approach. "I was very interested in how the abstract shape in a space makes a specific kind of atmosphere," he says. The installation has different rooms, comprising the rotating computer head, garage, tower, terrace, cathedral, projection room, and ground-level terrace.
"Armpit" will make its way to either Germany or China after Coachella.