Anna Mari Liivrand “In the Shadow of Crumbling Silhouettes”

At the exhibition “In the Shadow of Crumbling Silhouettes”, Anna Mari Liivrand continues creating her own unique space, which offers the author and the viewer the change to withdraw from the merciless speed of the modern life, take time out to think and experience an unusual introspection. The artist, who is interested in rituals, leads the visitor to her exhibition that is not emphatically solemn like a religious service, but mundanely discreet and charmingly direct, at the same time capturing our world and the various aspects of life in a very natural way, and showing us their hidden, sometimes contradictory harmony.

The ritual aspect of Anna Mari Liivrand’s work relies heavily on the inherent ornamentality of her work, which structures and guides the visual and symbolic narrative, and in turn, the viewer’s experience of it. Liivrand uses both abstract geometric forms and more realistic motifs borrowed from nature and material culture – recognisable, yet still symbolic – as parts of the ornaments. She takes a hubrid approach to them, interweaving the logic of the organic and non-organic worlds, where a sculptural plant is juxtaposed with a sculpture in the shape of a plant. The way in which Liivrand deals with art media, materials and techniques is also hybrid: sometimes, components that are rather heterogeneous are subordinated to the creation of a single holistic image.

Unlike a traditional ornament built on recurring elements, however, the structures created by Liivrand evolve in a non-repetitive manner, their regularity is more complex and meaningful than historical decorative patterns. In contrast to the context in which traditional ornaments originated – the cyclical world view of archaic society – this branching is well suited to a way of thinking that spreads in different directions and synthesises fragments into a whole from fragments, as if in a rhizome of the modern world.

Like a traditional ornament, however, Anna Mari Liivrand’s compositions are symbolically charged, combining both universal and personal symbols: daisies that mutated as a result of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe; poisonous plants, such as cow parsnip, lily of the valley, true lover’’s knot, deceptively seductive in their beauty; vaults resembling ruins and fragments of a metal fence surrounding a grave; wishing ribbons and motifs from Estonian folk poetry craft that have been left unfinished as patterns; toad spawn braided into strings that look like rosaries and tears running like the resin of pines. All these symbols speak at once of fading and rebirth, melancholy and hope. Flowers turning into berries and the frog spawn that gives birth to an amphibious animal are associated with transformation and metamorphosis, the final fruit of which is not yet fully clear. This new fabric is still evolving, acting as an intriguing ornament within an ornament – an independent structure within a larger ornament.

The exhibition of Anna Mari Liivrand comes across as a quiet space full of potential that does not impose itself, whereby the uncertainty of the outcome does not cause anxiety, but a bright anticipation of something intangible.


Elnara Taidre, July 2023