Daiga Grantina makes her solo debut in America at the New Museum

The Latvian artist is presenting her first solo exhibition in the US - What Eats Around Itself -a series of playful installations for viewers to walk through.

by Shraddha Nair Jan 21, 2020

New York City, known as the art capital of the world, is home to many greats. What is exceptional about the city, however, is that it is also the rich soil that helps growing artists bloom. Many remarkable artists first made their bones in a New York City museum before going on to create waves in the industry. Manhattan’s New Museum is one such institution. The director, Massimiliano Gioni, says, “It's not by accident that some of the greatest artists of today, ranging from Jeff Koons to David Hammons to Adrian Piper, or more recently, artists like Wu Tsang, Urs Fischer, and Chris Ofili, had their very first New York museum exposure at the New Museum. That's what we have been doing at the Museum for more than 40 years: we show the art of tomorrow, today”.

In a continuation of this tradition, New Museum is presenting Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself.

Grantina’s Toll on display at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2018 | What Eats Around Itself | Daiga Grantina | STIRworld
Grantina’s Toll on display at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2018 Image Credit: Courtesy of Galerie Joseph Tang

Daiga Grantina is an emerging artist of Latvian origin, who lives and works in Paris and is showcasing a range of adventurous and exciting art installations at the New Museum, in a first ever solo in America. The exhibition is a display of past works as well as one large scale site-specific installation, curated by Helga Christoffersen.

Grantina’s recent works are inspired by lichen, referenced directly in the exhibition title, and she draws inspiration from its aesthetic and natural qualities.

Grotto from Glammar, a previous artwork by Grantina | What Eats Around Itself | Daiga Grantina | STIRworld
Grotto from Glammar, a previous artwork by Grantina Image Credit: Courtesy of Galerie Joseph Tang

Grantina employs silicon, textile and plastics to create amorphous installations that read as an organic sculpture but are, in fact, entirely artificial. Her work in the past has played with these derived dichotomies in its materiality, creating a sense of curious confusion in the viewers' eyes. This show will be no different. Although lichen is a natural composite, its structure is repetitive and as Christofferson puts it, "mechanically produced, systematic, grid-like”.

Grantina explores this duality in the series, bringing into question the true nature of a material and the real materials in nature. Grantina calls on her audience to leave behind any preconceived notions, inviting us to question our perception of the boundaries between natural and artificial.

Saules Suns by Grantina, a multi-centered landscape that unfolds around several suns, at the 2019 Venice Biennale | What Eats Around Itself | Daiga Grantina | STIRworld
Saules Suns by Grantina, a multi-centered landscape that unfolds around several suns, at the 2019 Venice Biennale Image Credit: Courtesy of Galerie Joseph Tang

Christofferson comments on the relevance of this tension between organic and synthetic materials in Grantina’s work, “We are living in a world where we are surrounded by new substitutes and surrogates for everything around us. Whether it is the food that we eat or the clothes we wear, or the houses that we live in, there is an incredible shift happening in the composition of materials. Natural materials are artificially engineered, and something that can feel like a familiar object or feel like a familiar texture, is often not what it appears to be. In Grantina's work I see an obsession with testing the limits of materials and exploring this middle ground between the natural and the artificial”.

Grantina’s bold installation Toll, the German word for ‘mad’ or ‘astounding’, on display at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2018 | What Eats Around Itself | Daiga Grantina | STIRworld
Grantina’s bold installation Toll, the German word for ‘mad’ or ‘astounding’, on display at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2018 Image Credit: Courtesy of Galerie Joseph Tang

In the site-specific installation by Grantina, she creates an environment for viewers to literally step into the work and get a micro and macro perspective on this installation. Christofferson tells us what excites her about this curatorial process, “It is always an incredible process to work with an artist who creates new work for a specific space or context. In this case Grantina really considered the nature of the New Museum's lobby gallery, a very transparent space that can be encountered from multiple angles due to its long glass wall. In addition, the space has a skylight, and Grantina uses the space almost like a glasshouse for the growth of organic matter, with her sculptural installation taking the form of many separate elements that form one larger and connected whole”.

Toll is a massive sculpture that includes a range of materials with varying qualities | What Eats Around Itself | Daiga Grantina | STIRworld
Toll is a massive sculpture that includes a range of materials with varying qualities Image Credit: Courtesy of Galerie Joseph Tang

Grantina represented Latvia at the 2019 Venice Biennale with her solo presentation Saules Suns. She has had solo exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018), Kunstverein Hamburg (2017), and others apart from a number of group exhibitions as well. The solo at New Museum opens on January 21, 2020 and runs till May 17, 2020.

Biotopia, Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany, 2017 by Daiga Grantina
 | What Eats Around Itself | Daiga Grantina | STIRworld
Biotopia, Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany, 2017 by Grantina Image Credit: Courtesy of Galerie Joseph Tang

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About Author

Shraddha Nair

Shraddha Nair

Nair is a writer and curator based in Bengaluru, India. She graduated from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. She believes that art is the real community influencer, and that it has immense capacity to change the way people feel and behave. Nair works as a writer and curator while promoting artists and artwork through Instagram.

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