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Press review

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.