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Press review

Gunita Ozoliņa, Auseklis, 7 October 2004..

All inquired participants and spectators, observers of the multimedia installation Milk in the Saturday afternoon, said that it has been interesting. It was a conclusion of an international project realised by the Dutch artist Esther Polak and Latvian Ieva Auziņa in collaboration with RIXC New Media Culture Centre at the Bārda Family Museum Rumbiņi in the Katvari Parish. The farmer Jānis Simsons from Vidridži Parish and Katvari local people – the farmer and Parish Chairman Mārtiņš Freimanis with his spouse Zaiga, Aina Rudzīte, Ilga Grīnberga, Andis Ozols, Astrīda Pauliņa, head of the local dairy-farming co-operative Pienene – all of them spent one day with a GPS device in their pockets and were recorded by a camera, thus marking the origins the Rigamont cheese produced by Limbažu piens. The project was continued in the Netherlands, including phone conversations with its largest distributor Henk Vonk? and the author of the cheese recipe, Italian Angelo Frosio. [. . .]
Several tens of interested people, including the protagonists – installation stars, watched this performance that lasted about an hour, smiling and commenting upon it. Already during the shooting of material, Jānis Simsons remarked that he would readily attach the small locative media – GPS devices – to each individual cow.
[. . .] After the performance conversations on the remarkable project went on in the Rumbiņi farmstead of the Katvari Parish, tasting a huge round Rigamont cheese and pies. Katvari people sincerely thanked authors of the project, wishing them good luck and success outside Latvia as well. After some time interested people will have a chance to look into the project’s electronic version because the authors have started to work on the home page and, possibly, a book will be published as well.
On Sunday several tens of interested foreign visitors observed the project, arriving from the international festival of new media in Riga. The installation will be on view till Sunday evening, then it will travel to the Netherlands and later will be shown at an international exhibition of art, media and technologies in Germany.

Anda Kļaviņa, Diena, 4 November 2004.

New media:
The project Milk realised by new media artists Ieva Auziņa and Esther Polack (the Netherlands) – a multimedia story about milk from Limbaži brought to the Netherlands and on its way to Utrecht market transformed into Rigamont cheese, similar to Parma cheese, – certainly is one of the most important events in visual art and culture of this year, involving Latvia’s participation. The project that includes artistic, ethnographic and geographic elements, shows both Latvian country landscape and the idea of the unified Europe, featuring a cross-section and quality unmatched by any art initiative on a similar subject, not in the least by research projects on the level of EU bureaucracy. Using GPS or locative media, the artists followed the courses of people involved in this milk route, documenting them also by sound recording and photographic means. Resulting multimedia installation Milk was on view at the Bārda Family Museum Rumbiņi, (Katvari Parish, Limbaži District) in early October. It was part of the international festival Art+Communication: Trans Cultural Mapping of Europe. [. . .]

Intuitive documentary:
[. . .] The project involved several Latvian farmers and Dutch customers. Three-part installation in Latvia was exposed in the family room at the poet Fricis Bārda’s family house – a spacious 19th century horizontal beam structure – among ancient furniture and crocheted tidies. Filigreed and laconic technologies organically coincide with this heavy space. [. . .]

[. . .] Movement of a point on a green plane was displayed on a LCD monitor. Some participant of the project moves either from pasture to home or from barn to toilet. His/her story on this route in heard and corresponding photographs taken by the artists are projected synchronically. [. . .]

The artists’ intervention in the everyday life of these people is so tactful that this reality seems uncontaminated and purely authentic when shown to other people as well: individuals’ stories are open and free, captured situations are natural. The subtle technique of sound recording and photographing has captured the events so serenely that they seem to materialise by a single touch. Not in vain several visitors have perceived the installation as a film. [. . .]

Back to control:
[. . .] Ability of the modern world to keep peculiar but harmonious relationships with nature, countryside and the difference is what moves in the installation Milk. The artists have succeeded in it because they combined both clear conception of the project, professional use of new technologies and intuitive yielding to environment and situations. [. . .]

Milk around Europe:
[. . .] The artists have plenty of ideas of where and how to use the project further. They would readily collaborate with the Ministry of Education to promote pupils’ and students’ activities in the creative use of GPS. [. . .]

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!

Inga Šteimane:
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?

Inga Šteimane, Forums, 15-22 December 2004.

Zaiga Treimane, owner of the farmstead Jaundzelves in the Katvari Parish and Chairman Mārtiņš Ritums Treimanis’ spouse, describes farmer’s life as close to art’s creative value.
Inga Šteimane:
Why did you agree to participate in the project Milk? Weren’t you afraid?
Zaiga Treimane:
I always experiment and accept challenges. At first I was afraid of all the premises in my house being recorded.
What did you like now, in the completed work?
Dutch ask for our cheese in the Dutch market! I thought it was not real – these talks about our cheese produced at Limbažu piens and exported abroad. It turned out as true, it is exported and demanded. So we could produce also more milk.
Did you get to know something more about your work?
Yes, it is one of most important news that cheese is being exported and demanded as well. All the time we had no real idea how it is.
Can art bring joy?
Nature is what I enjoy most. The changing beauty – in spring, summer, autumn… There is a forest close to our farm. And when I feel exhausted I get quickly to the forest. Low spirits are gone, I go home and everything is OK.
How did you perceive Milk – as art?
I was interested what are my daily routes, how they would be shown by GPS.
Is there something to be corrected?
No! There is nothing to be added or removed. But an interesting drawing emerges.

Inga Šteimane, Forums, 15-22 December 2004.

As Forums already introduced the artists Ieva Auziņa and Esther Polak (1.10.2004), now farmers of the Limbaži District are asked of their opinions. More pathetically – they are Latvian peasants whose daily routes are mapped as a significant part of the Milk project’s structure. Jānis Simsons, owner of the farmstead Kundziņi in Vidridži Parish, Limbaži District, was invited to the conversation first.

Inga Šteimane:
You participate in the artwork Milk , one could say – provide its subject as your week-day has become the material of this artwork. How do you feel in this role?
Jānis Simsons:
Strangely. At first it could seem like we had become test rabbits. But it grew more interesting during the process. Especially the fact that we promote Latvia’s image in the world. And that we, farmers, are interesting for such kind of art.
In the milk map Holland is linked not with Riga but with the Katvari Parish.
Points in the map quickly lead to the concrete place, and they are no more abstract foreign countries.
You are an engineer trained in Leningrad. How long do you keep your farm and how large is it?
Since the factory VEF went bankrupt, I moved to countryside. Now I have 180 hectares of land and cattle of 85 cows. Indices are rather high – 7, 5 thousand kg of milk from a cow in a year. I manage non-traditionally – cows are unbounded and outside temperature is retained in the cattle-shed throughout the year, so cows have fresh air all the time. Yes, small calves get covered with a beautiful, thick hair. But these are our Latvian cows.
What is your experience in art?
I know most about painting. As I studied in Leningrad, I often visited the Hermitage. Paintings in its collections seemed unique, original. And also Rodin’s sculpture Eternal Spring.
Do you perceive the project Milk as art?
One has to think a lot here. It is not acceptable right away, one has to get accustomed to everything.
What is most touching for you in the Milk project?
Latvian landscapes – they are very close to me. And I think a foreigner would be interested as well to see what Latvia looks like.
How did your family react when you worked with a GPS device in your pocket?
On the one hand, it seemed as something foolish. On the other – I had to think what exactly I am doing. Sometimes it is so habitual that you feel like doing nothing.

Inga Šteimane, Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze, 4 October 2004.

In the sunny Saturday afternoon an artwork created by latest technologies was opened at the Bārda Family house made of horizontal beams – with artists, authors of the installation, as well as Limbaži farmers, participants of the project. [. . .]

Installation Milk is one of the projects included in the festival Art + Communication that takes place in Latvia for the seventh time. The festival is organised by the New Media Centre RIXC, but its Director Ieva Auziņa together with the Dutch artist Esther Polak created the installation Milk. Mārtiņš Ritums Treimanis, Katvari Parish Chairman and owner of the farmstead Jaundzelves, Jānis Simsons, owner of the farmstead Kundziņi and other farmers of the Limbaži District took part in the opening of the installation. Simsons said that he was delighted by the outcome because now there is much more information what exactly is the route of milk produced in the area.

Katvari Parish Chairman Mārtiņš Ritums Treimanis stressed that his aim is to use every chance to popularise his parish and Latvia abroad, and considers this project’s result an interesting research and nice representational material on farmers’ work. Treimanis also said that the outcome is balanced and precisely this kind of art is worth of interest. [. . . ]