Don’t Feed the Birds
Eva L’Hoest, 2021
Rivers and streams are for me inhabited by childhood memories, those of my city, crossed by a river. Later, the luminous waters in literature, that of the saliva of idiots or the canals that carry with them fragments of history. These shiny surfaces, these glints in the text, have often linked the readings together. They appear as an auratic residue of the author’s speech, the saliva that binds words, the vapours that come along with the mechanics of language. Water and trade movements are at the source of the earliest forms of writing: the bites of the reed stylus in the wet clay tablet used to record transactions. The rivers are like the humoral filters of cities, where bile mingles with water, seminal liquor and faeces. At night, these D.N.A screens light up like channels and capture the gaze of passers-by with their meditative undulations. They have a force of double projection, dejection and contemplation. Spaces of engulfment of the bodies and thought, mirrors at night, they memorise a state of the world and that of the men who live at its sides.
The Inmost Cell, 2020–2021
Engraved crystal; digital video, colour, sound, duration: 11:32 minutes.
Composition and music by John Also Bennett. Voice by Iveta Pole. Text by Eva L’Hoest and Eva Mancuso. Production Management by Dita Birkenšteina. Participation by Claire Contamine, Choir Ausma, Michael Debatty, Stav Yeini (performer).
Originally commissioned by the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art curated by Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, with the support of Wallonie-Bruxelles International, Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles and Botanique Museum.
Eva L’Hoest’s The Inmost Cell is a poetic contemplation connected to the Daugava River that flows through the Latvian city of Riga.
In the mid-1970s a dam was built across the river as part of the construction of Riga’s hydroelectric power plant. Surrounding islands were flooded to create its large reservoir, among them Mārtiņsala, mentioned in L’Hoest’s film. Also cited is Staburadze, a sacred cliff similarly engulfed by water and known in Latvian mythology to be a mourning girl transformed into rock.
L’Hoest’s ghostly, digital waterscape speaks to these histories of submersion while also conjuring notions of loss, remembrance and nostalgic longing. It was created using computer-generated imagery and 3D modelling of buildings and sculptural forms she encountered around Riga, and features composition by American musician, flautist and synthesist John Also Bennett.