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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Indrė Šerpytytė

b. 1983, Lithuania

Working primarily with photography, but also employing archives, sculpture, film, audio and choreography, the work of the Lithuanian artist Indrė Šerpytytė (born 1983) explores issues of history and trauma. Much of her work has addressed the recent past of Lithuania, in particular the years of the Second World War, the Cold War, the decades of Soviet control and the so-called 'war after the war'. Yet despite dealing with very specific historical circumstances Šerpytytė achieves a remarkable openness in the work. Her themes are universal: the ways in which the past affects the present, the ways in which the political infuences the personal, the importance of memory. Šerpytytė states: 'In my work I treat photography as an emotional expression rather than a documentation process. Through my images I attempt to reconstruct my inherited memory in the attempt to make the past more tangible. By rebuilding the inherited history I try to reclaim it.'

The series A State of Silence (2006) creates an ambiguous archive of relics, combining personal possessions with seeming remnants of bureaucracy. Denying a coherent narrative, the work questions official accounts of the untimely death of the artist's father, a government official, in an apparent car accident.

The series 1944–1991 (2009–) depicts buildings in Lithuania—many now in domestic use—that were used by the Soviet secret services, including the KGB. Accessing declassified government records Šerpytytė developed an archive of the buildings and then visited the sites and photographed them. She then commissioned a traditional Lithuanian woodcarver to make models of the buildings. Finally, Šerpytytė photographed the models in black and white. Her cool and austere presentation of the resulting images—removed from the original sites of trauma by several steps of mediation—opens up a rich space for contemplation. As Simon Baker has written: 'Šerpytytė's glacial photographs stand in stark contrast to the brutal and unthinking character of both the traumatic events and the unacceptable memorial failure to which they refer and, finally, represent. But rather than sealing off these sites from their unwanted associations with an absentminded history of political oppression, coercion and violence, each sequential link in the chain of the process opens up a little more breathing space and lets in a little more light; just enough room for the flitting wing-beat of the irrational and the chance of recognition that comes with it.'

Šerpytytė's new works, the 'Pedestal' series, also address the gulf between past and present by contrasting archival images of statues of Lenin and Stalin, sited in grand public spaces, with their current existence in a kitsch 'ostalgia' theme park. In addition, Šerpytytė has recently begun to address other international sites of trauma and their media representation, focusing in particular on 9/11, the conflict in Syria and ISIS propaganda films.

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Featured Artworks

View All (42)
Yield. by Indrė Šerpytytė contemporary artwork Indrė ŠerpytytėYield., 2018 Cotton on linen canvas
35 x 49 cm
Parafin
Virtue. by Indrė Šerpytytė contemporary artwork Indrė ŠerpytytėVirtue., 2018 Cotton on linen canvas
27 x 27 cm
Parafin
Vim. by Indrė Šerpytytė contemporary artwork Indrė ŠerpytytėVim., 2018 Cotton on linen canvas
36 x 21 cm
Parafin
Variance. by Indrė Šerpytytė contemporary artwork Indrė ŠerpytytėVariance., 2018 Cotton on linen canvas
36 x 48 cm
Parafin
Towers. by Indrė Šerpytytė contemporary artwork Indrė ŠerpytytėTowers., 2016 Cotton, wool and stretcher
41 x 36 cm
Parafin
Tails. by Indrė Šerpytytė contemporary artwork Indrė ŠerpytytėTails., 2016 Cotton, wool and stretcher
31 x 38 cm
Parafin
Sol. by Indrė Šerpytytė contemporary artwork Indrė ŠerpytytėSol., 2019 Cotton on wooden stretcher
114 x 114 cm
Parafin
Seed. by Indrė Šerpytytė contemporary artwork Indrė ŠerpytytėSeed., 2018 Cotton on linen canvas
25 x 23 cm
Parafin

Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Indrė Šerpytytė, From.Between.To at Parafin, London
Open Now
5 April–25 May 2019 Indrė Šerpytytė From.Between.To Parafin, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Secular Icons in an Age of Moral Uncertainty at Parafin, London
Closed
1 December 2017–3 February 2018 Group Exhibition Secular Icons in an Age of Moral Uncertainty Parafin, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Indrė Šerpytytė, Pedestal at Parafin, London
Closed
23 September–12 November 2016 Indrė Šerpytytė Pedestal Parafin, London

Represented By

In Related Press

Roots of Conceptual Art, Caught by a Camera’s Eye Related Press Roots of Conceptual Art, Caught by a Camera’s Eye The New York Times : 3 December 2015

Learning, like looking, takes time. It took until well into the 20th century for photography to be fully accepted as art, longer for color work to make the cut. (People thought color belonged in advertising.) And it's only fairly recently, in the digital present, that hard lines separating photography from painting, sculpture and performance have...

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