Critics’ Picks

Ieva Kraule, Sophie, 2017, 3-D print, paint, steel, custom software, voice recording.

Riga

Ieva Kraule

kim? Contemporary Art Centre
Sporta 2 1st floor
March 24–May 7, 2017

“If I am the mask then you must be the ‘true’ self hiding behind my insidious body, as for a mask to exist there must be something genuine for it to conceal,” utters Sophie, 2017, an automated mask created by Latvian artist Ieva Kraule to perform her written texts. Schematic, stripped away from any soft tissue that would conceal her hard mechanic body parts, Sophie resembles Maria, the robot in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Although detached from a body, Sophie manages to subvert the relationship between human and machine, between creator and a tool made to merely mediate the artist’s ideas. Machines are born of human desires and, at the same time, human limitations and insecurities, thus immediately gaining leverage in relation to their creators. Same for Sophie: She is immobile, mounted on a wall, and speaks in prerecorded voice between long pauses of mere motorized blinking, yet she becomes indispensible for the artist to communicate her thoughts. We see a mutual relationship, a double game, in which the machine shapes the same ideas that it later pronounces in the exhibition space.

Language is a recurring theme—a device, even—in Kraule’s practice, and it is explored through diverse materials, such as ceramics, metal, and texts. In this show, her linguistic concern is apparent in colorful metal lines reminiscent of fragmented letters, which are scattered throughout the gallery, and two other motionless ceramic masks mounted on a wall that have their mouths open yet remain silent.