Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter, Riga 2011. Easter this year in Riga is going about with an anxious eye. The way one person about Riga described it to me was that “Riga is like a frozen body” (sastingusi).
Another person tense over business conditions, a man with one leg long in politics, was taken aback by my criticism of Latvian politics and challenged in so many words: Well, if you are so smart, tell me how you would do it different. Tell it to me right now and don’t escape me confrontation free.

I replied the man something like this:

1) In a little over a month discussions of who will be the next Latvian President will start for real;
2) I have rewritten an old story (I started it when I was still living in Arlington, VA), a political allegory, which I have disguised as a children’s story. The actors in the story are little friendly humanoids known to their author as Wormelings or “Vurmīši” in Latvian. Vurmīši are born in a refrigerator in the basement of the Riga Pils (Riga Pils to Riga is something like the White House is to Washington). 

One afternoon the president of Latvia, suffering from a total loss of desire to give any further public speeches, wanders about the cabinets and rooms of the castle. The president goes down into the Pils cellar, discovers a refrigerator, and when he opens the refrigerator door, a tumult of Wormelings crying “Free at last!” make their escape. The rest is Wormeling history.
3) I have an exhibition coming up on June 1st. It is of my ‘reproducible art’, and will be at the Agija Suna Gallery in Old town Riga. The Wormelings will be prominent among the images. My interest in ‘reproducible art’ goes back to the 1970s and 1980s. A mix of a real politicker (long term strategy anthropologue), a silent non-academic academic, and artist of sorts, I walked for some years the streets of Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, to get a feel of how walking the streets for some purpose feels like. Perhaps that is where the Wormelings were born.

4) However, since the Wormelings never realized their potential in Washington, DC, their being born in a refrigerator in the Riga Pils basement is a heaven sent second chance to be nominated for the post of the next president of Riga Pils.

5) Some people ask Wormeling/Vurmītis to show his passport to prove that he is a Riga and Latvia citizen and can run for office. Vurmītis retaliates by asking if Latvians know the origins of their most popular Holiday, Jāņi. Many other topics arise, such as why Riga should be the future capital city of Europe.

6) All of the five above mentioned points come together at more or less one time-sensitive occasion, and Riga has a best seller.
The man with one leg long in politics looked at his watch and said that he had a meeting coming up in ten minutes. He said he would give me word on the Wormelings next week. I got the impression that I should not hold my breath, which is why these photos of Vurmīši, anticipating some such, were taken two weeks ago.

Happy Easter!

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