Detail: Awating Transition (Monument without a home II)
Still from Video: Awating Transition (Monument without a home II) (8min)
Awaiting transition (Monument without a home II)
Sculpture and Video, 2015
Text by Knutte Wester
The first time I came Riga in Latvia was in 2007. I had just become a father and saw the world thought that new lens. In Latvia I learned that thousands of children were growing up in orphanages, but no one wanted to talk to me about this wound in the society. The children grow up in orphanages, not much different from the homes and boarding homes that my grandmother has told me about her childhood in Stockholm. The orphaned or abandoned children have, both symbolically and literally, always have a bag packed. As if they are waiting for asylum in their own country. Waiting to become a part of society. Waiting to be desired, in Latvia or elsewhere. Anywhere. Together with a group of seven year olds at the orphanages Ziemeli I did a project were we together created a monument to those who otherwise not may be apparent or take place; a homeless monument to the children that the community wanted to hide or forget.
In 2013, I returned to the same orphanage. The children who lived there six years earlier had been scattered to the wind, but there were new seven year olds at the gate, in the same permanent awaiting for transition.
A hundred years earlier a photographer took a photograph of my grandmother and put the image in his shop window. He put out a note in which he asked if anyone wanted to have the baby in the picture. In a way, this story becomes the starting point when we start on a new work, a new monument without a home, a kind of sibling of the sculpture we did at the orphanage nearly seven years earlier. The child, who we can call "L", which is doing the face, says that she fully understands the story of my grandmother. Somehow, in that moment, the story becomes her own. Our work light turns in to the memory of the lightning that dazzled grandmother, the moment when her eyes closes and the hope of a different place starts.
When I return a year later "L" is no longer at the orphanage. The others tell me she has been adopted to the US, but they don't know where. When I return again another six months later and ask if anyone heard from her, no one remembers her. (But there are new seven year olds shouting that they want to cast their faces.)
Above: Awaiting Transition (Monument without a home II)
Below: Knutte Westers Studio at NARS New York