The Buddha of Suburbia was made as part of the Art Management and Information Centre (MMIC) project for public art, titled The Bacon street republic (August 2007). The Bacon street republic played upon the idea of Rīga’s Moscow suburb as a “republic” of sorts, seeing as it stands out with particularly colorful locals, environment and the interaction between different cultures. The idea of the project was based on Speķa [which actually means ‘lard’ – translator’s note] Street. It’s a small street between Maskavas Street and Mazā Krasta Street, and there are no houses on it. The exhibition authors argue that such a street is “almost entirely virtual, bearing in itself a special mythological code, which is brought to life in the works of the artists partaking in the project”. Kirils Panteļejevs’ The Buddha of Suburbia was placed at the intersection of Turgeņeva and Gogoļa Street, across from the Academy of Sciences building.
Later the work was exhibited in Amsterdam’s Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek as part of the Homo Urbanus – Homo Sapiens? project (2008). In 2009 the sculpture was exhibited in Sweden, at the Understanding and Communicative Integration show in Katrineholm’s Art Hall and, in 2010, at Golden Works inside the Exhibition hall Arsenāls in Rīga.
The original work was restored to be exhibited at Mobile Museum. The Next Season.
Kirils Panteļejevs describes the work thusly: “As parts of the urban environment with their own specific social processes, the suburbs become islands of tranquility on the maps of urban centers. The coming generations of creative people are being born there. Reading the novel, one can see the turbulent bohemian way of life in London at the dawn of the era of punk-rock through the eyes of a descendant of Indian immigrants. Even though it’s difficult to compare London with the Latvian capital, life unfolds similarly everywhere, with generations, trends, thinking and attitudes constantly shifting. A gentle sense of sadness about the passing time and a longing for the unknown future, which is right across the corner, pervades this novel.”
- Authors description of The Buddha of Suburbia
The idea for the sculpture arose from reading Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia. The work symbolizes peace, harmony, tolerance and clarity of mind. The statue of the Eastern deity is a rather capacious and eloquent image. In a sense, it’s a metaphor for the future, as in the inhumane environment of today one sees, paradoxically, the conflux of the cultures, mentalities, traditions etc. of different peoples. But in this case they are as if symbolical radars that want to receive the vibrations of the surrounding environment. The work form is stylized, without laying a stress on certain characteristics or details that would testify to its belonging to a specific religion. It’s more like an alien or an indigo child. The task of the sculpture is creating associations with the symbols of Eastern religions and philosophies. It’s as if an invitation not to fall into trifles and problems of everyday life, [to develop] the skill of looking at everything from a bird’s-eye view.
- Author’s description from the project, The Bacon street republic
Kirils Panteļejevs (1969) is an artist who has systematically expanded the means of expression available in his creative practice, starting from figurative sculpture to performance, sound installations and interactive environmental objects. He graduated from the Sculpture Department at the Art Academy of Latvia in 1994, and he has supplemented his training at Humboldt State University in California, the US. He is currently an associate professor at the Art Academy of Latvia.
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Former textile factory “Boļševicka”,
Ganību dambis 30