Who is the artist Velta Emīlija Platupe?
I was born on the brink of the collapse of the Soviet Union and emergence of the free Latvia.
I was too little for a talk about politics, lost jobs and the lives that have gone astray.
But I was grown-up enough to soak up the atmosphere of fear and insecurity that till today forms the basis of my personality.
I was big enough to know – anything can happen to you at any given moment. It won't necessarily be nice. I'm a wartime grandchild – in the evenings, when I walked home, I always watched if the house wasn’t burned down. My grandma set her own house and farm on fire, along with her wedding gifts, so a Soviet kolkhoz won’t seize it.
My mother, hidden in the barn’s attic, watched alone as her neighbors were deported and their house plundered. She was four years old, she didn't cry. The others had fled. My dad was raised in Siberia by my foster-grandmother. When he returned home, he had forgotten Latvian and learned it again. Dad never talked about it. Others, who were not killed, later drowned their sorrows drinking.
How were they dealing with forgiveness?
Don't try to talk to them about it, a little child hidden into depths of their souls, will be enraged and might scream that the past no longer makes sense – we have to live for today. For me it doesn’t make a difference is this screaming child Latvian, Jewish, Russian, Arabic. Do not hurt any sentient being.
I have endlessly and rather passionately studied art in Latvia and France - painting, scenography, video, textiles, ceramics, contemporary art, photography. I take part in exhibitions and work for theater. I like solo exhibitions, there I can be the only Queen of the Ball. I’m rather nonchalant about your desire to buy my art. I'm a knight fighting demons and on the battlefield one doesn’t pass a hat for donations.
I returned home to work in Latvia for sentimental and personal reasons, so my family's quiet, unnoticed and heroic practice in forgiveness had not been in vain.