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Anita Līcis-Ribak
Time Still and Letters Between the (Coast) Lines

Anita Līcis-Ribak, Untitled from Time Still, Black and White Inkjet Print on Airmail
Paper, 2008/2011, Edition 1/5, Signed Recto.

Artist Statements
Time Still

Time = Tempus (Latin) --> Temporary = Ephemeral (slight and perishable)

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness…

– T.S. Eliott, Four Quartets: Burnt Norton, I & IV

Time Still speaks of that unattainable fictional point of stillness, or the present, around which Time hinges. Even in perceived stillness, the present Time is fragmented, ephemeral, and often obscured.

As in Letters Between the (Coast) Lines, the medium of artwork—fragmented assembly of photographs printed on airmail paper—attempts to convey these qualities of fragmentation, ephemerality and obfuscation, even as we behold the most life-reaffirming and persistent forms of life.

Letters Between the (Coast) Lines

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
– Pablo Neruda, Poem # 20, Twenty Love Poems: And a Song of Despair

I am what is trying to be that tree, looking for gravity, permanence, home, with my feet planted in the sand as if giving roots, while all around me moves and alters—the air, the sand, and the water—enveloping and weighing me ever more, with the passing of time.

This series started evolving as part of a group art exhibit, HERE, in Northampton, MA in 2010. For me, the meaning of HERE is hinged around my experiences as of someone who lives far away from her homeland and from many people close to her, and who has adopted a language she learned well into her 20s. I have, through the years, kept exchanging letters with those I left behind. These handwritten letters kept carrying stories about our lives to one another across the ocean, became the bond that has kept us close, and nurtured our relationships over time.

This series consists of photographs printed in fragments on airmail paper and assembled into collages. Both the content of the images and the method of their presentation refer to the ephemeral, fragile, and sometimes hidden quality of our existence, our relationships, and of the ever evolving sense of self, while representing a kind of a bridge between the different lives I have lived, on three different continents, a bridge to “here.”

With its lightness and functionality, airmail paper becomes a fragmented canvas for the stories of our lives, the snippets from which we learn about one another. The air and the water in the images become the carriers of life, potent pregnant messengers and sustainers of life itself, while the feet pin my existence to the “here and the now.”

The title of the sub-series, Many Loving Kisses!, alludes to the repetitive—and sometimes banal—language of letters. Inevitably, at the end of each of my letters to my family and friends in Latvia, I will write one version or another of “Daudz mīlu bucu!”—Many loving kisses! And every time that banal but loaded sentence will acquire a different tone and weight, depending on the story contained in the letter above it.

Artist Bio
Anita Līcis-Ribak is an Amherst, MA-based artist, photographer and interior designer. Līcis-Ribak was born in Rīga, Latvia, and started taking photographs in her teenage years while living in the Northeast Siberia. She later studied piano, painting, drawing, sculpture, and the history of art and architecture. Before coming to the United States, she was a member of the internationally acclaimed female choir Dzintars and graduated from R?ga Technical University with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. She received her MS in Interior Architecture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Līcis-Ribak has worked as an architect, interior designer, and lecturer in Europe and in the US. She currently divides her time between her design practice and her new photography career. Līcis-Ribak has earned many recent photography awards including an Honor Award in the 9th Annual International Photography Competition, 1st place at a regional Juried Art Exhibition, and an award at the House of the European Union photography competition in Rīga, Latvia. Līcis-Ribak’s photographs have been selected for inclusion in juried photography exhibitions at the Fraser Gallery; the Minneapolis Photography Center; the Vermont Center of Photography; the PhotoPlace Gallery; the A.P.E. Gallery; and the Yeiser Art Center among others. Her lecture venues include Smith College, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the American Latvian Artist Association’s conference in New York.