THERE WILL BE DICKS, 2014
Solo exhibition of Ivars Gravlejs (1979, Riga) is the first incomplete retrospective of the Prague's FAMU school absolvent living in between Czech republic and Riga. Gravlejs here presents photographs and videos he took as adolescent pupil of elementary school in addition of actions and interventions he made as professional academic artist.
In front of the camera everybody started to behave in different way. Most often happened that the stronger boys started to torture the weaker ones even more. They wanted their activity to be documented.
It is the very school, as Thomas Bernhard writes, which is the state school where young people are turned into state persons. Walking to school, I was walking into the state and, since the state destroys people, into the institution for the destruction of people.
Whether 11-year old Ivars Gravlejs only documents the brutality of everyday life in the school of post-soviet transformation or he reacts with a direct creative act, his position is always the one of a subversion - the attempt to gain at least a little of temporary freedom and space in the situation with no escape. Ivars Gravlejs re-discovered in his jokes from the years 1990 till 1996 many methods and procedures known from 20th century avantgarde artworks. As if the position of a child, which only recently started to mature and thus is conscious of the violence hidden by the hypocrisy of the hierarchical system with pre-determinate roles of its different actors was the main experience of the 20th century human being.
From nowadays point of view I think, they're the best works I've ever created.
We still may find the position of a school satire in Gravlejs's recent works. May it be the only reaction to a world full of vulgarity, brutality and absurdity - the one with the very same means.
It's the end, what a gas, And who's read it is an ass! I aimed to create a satira aimed at certain social classes, not a nihilistic attack on the whole culture, wrote Witold Gombrowicz about his book Ferdydurke. Similarly the use of vulgarisms or vulgar symbols in the work of Ivars Gravlejs is never an attack against someone (and so an act of violence), but only the violence of a rule (and so an attack against the system). The use of primitive reactions as the ones of an uneducated person is an actual necessity. Being an educated and intelligent person Ivars Gravlejs knows very well that there is no point in discussing with the system, because the possibility of a discussion is only another way it regulates us. The only chance to fight the system is to ignore the structures it uses to turn others into state persons - ie mainly the categories of "generally accepted" and category of "good manners". Although Gravlejs's brutal realism often leads to a chain reaction and consequent revelation, whether it be the unbelievable unprofessionality of the objective press, unassumed xenophobic sentiments or the acquisitiveness of some so-called political artists, the most important is - as in the case of intervention, which changed the monument Riga to Píča (in Czech "cunt"), the word which nobody except Gravlejs himself understood - the freedom of the creative act itself. It is not possible to defeat the school and the state and human being cut from the others with his name always stands facing those institutions alone. From this attitude grows also Gravlejs's peculiar in-activity, frequent use of found material without further modifications. Whether it be the point of view of a 11-year old pupil or stolen dumpling in plaster, it is this brutal reality, which in the best way represents the absurdity of the world we live in.