Inga Šteimane, Forums, 15-22 December 2004.
Latvian cow is a travelling drugstore.
Mārtiņš Ritums Treimanis, Katvari Parish Chairman and owner of the farmstead Jaundzelves created an inclusive subject for installation: art comes into farmstead, milks the cow and then carries milk to the dairy, from dairy – to Holland… And then – on the Europeans’ tables!
Did you conceive of Milk as an artwork at once?
Mārtiņš Ritums Treimanis:
At first surely not. Although, from a philosophical viewpoint, all that exists, each individual is unique and in fact could be interpreted as artwork. May be this does not apply to men but women surely are works of art.
Two girls came to see you, and you as a chairman agreed at once that people are involved in this venture? Didn’t you consider an idea to send them to the neighbouring parish?
Just because I’m chairman I use every chance to popularise my parish, including the beautiful Bārda Family Museum. And now it is clear that the project was realised not just to show in pictures how Jānis Simsons presents his inventions or pikes are fished by nets in a pound – by the way, you could do the same if you decided to settle in countryside. Every sort of popularity is good for the parish. In addition, now we see how our milk travels abroad! And Europe sees what is the colour of our cattle, if they have tails or horns. How do milk cans and milkmaids look like and what is the level of cleanliness. There is interest in our production in the world; it could be even greater.
Do you perceive Milk as an artwork or in some other way? And what is your previous experience in art?
I have always enjoyed harmony in all kinds of art. I think that installation Milk is original. For the most part, we imagine artist as a bearded, rather gloomy man with a scarf around his neck, standing by the easel and painting…
…who has had a drop too much?
That’s right! (Laughing.) An odd person. That’s why people are reserved towards artists. But here – I mean the project Milk – eyes are clear, nothing is concealed, tidied up or retouched, all is as it is in real life – cows, their dung, milk cans that were common in Europe some forty years ago and other things.
Is it possible to say that the project had helped to turn all that is good and natural in the Latvian milk into self-confidence?