Sarmīte Māliņa

Sarmīte Māliņa has been taking part in exhibitions since the late 1980s, initially creating performances in public, and since the 1990s installations which employ minimalistic forms and sensitive materiality to record subjective feelings of time. The artist belongs to the so-called first generation of installators who are still actively working today.

The essence of Māliņa’s art can be found in its perfect simplicity. She enjoys playing with well-known, visually enticing objects, giving them new, subjectively metaphorical meanings.  Māliņa’s art can usually be felt without having the concept explained, as the works leave the viewer broad latitude for interpretation. The associatively charged objects wordlessly yet eloquently tell their unique stories, which are in fact universal.

“A Happy Childhood” is part of a three-part installation which was first displayed at the 1996 pan-Baltic exhibition “Personīgais laiks” (Personal Time) at the contemporary art gallery “Zachęta” in Warsaw. The artist explains that the idea of the triptych was “almost social”: “... there was a big kaleidoscope, a mirror with lipsticks and a white dentist’s chair. The kaleidoscope signified childhood, the mirror middle age, and the “electric chair” meant relaxation, ending”.  In creating a metaphor of human life from these objects, the artist uses a creative gesture to change the function of familiar objects, offering sentimental and meditative, universal and yet personal contemplation of life and, possibly, also death.

A Happy Childhood.  Installation (part of the triptych: “A Happy Childhood”, “Language“, “The Electric Chair“). 1996.

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