EDGARS AMERIKS PEAT ART WORKSHOP / To prepare the peat sculpture / self portrait II

Born June 11/1982 Latvia (EU). The material I have been experimenting with for many years is called peat, and I am called a peat-artist. What fascinates me about this new medium is that it can pull the viewer out of a logical and common space. The subject and concept merge through the process of creating the peat-objects which in their aesthetic qualities should be seen as contemporary representations of the world that is undeniably separate from the one we live in. By exploring the disturbing physicality of the material, I aim for moving beyond the realm of sculpture and instead mimic various styles of art, be it painting or bas-relief. My designs are inspired by the laws of nature and the forms found in its depth. Just as reality is bounded by physical laws, peat-art making is bound by specic attitude. Using basic forms, mostly abstract, I work to represent the meeting of art and science, for the process requires knowledge and experience, and it is the material that directs the movements of an artist and resonates with the viewer.

Peat is a sponge, fragile and ephemeral. Its layers – up to 60 feet thick - contain fragments of our history. It is an organic, sedentary deposit, growing from bottom to top, and it consists predominantly of dead, humied plant material. The botanical structure of the peat forming plants can be recognized in light yellowish brown to dark brown-coloured white peat. The ''sponge'' has a high pore volume, and a high air capacity is also given by the large share of coarse pores. With increasing decomposition, the cavity volume decreases and the amount of the bulk density increases. The plants do not rot completely. They transform their texture and content, they change to give life to something else.

Peat is mainly used in horticultural applications, it absorbs and holds moisture and aerates plant roots. It has also been used for energy for at least 2,000 years. For years, peat could be observed only in its natural habitat, the peatlands which have been constantly overlooked and undervalued. In viewing my work, the audience experiences its processes and outcomes. I believe the alternative, creative exploration of this magnetic material will encourage a better understanding of the ecology and heritage of peatlands.

For my work, the peat has to be specically selected and prepared. The modern technology allows to produce the cuttings in an eco-friendly manner and the preparation stage is held with care and respect. This approach helps to prevent damages and save the organic qualities of the peat layers which can contain more than 300 various plants in their bodies and have different shades of colour and density.

The works made of peat have a unique natural illumination, that is why they need a special treatment of light and shade, a special space and principle of being installed and presented to the viewer. I am engaging in these experiments – reaching beyond myself by creating a mental and spiritual challenge - precisely to see what is possible and am curious to discover what will happen next.

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