On 14 March, Līga Spunde’s exhibition opens at apiece, a showcase-style gallery strategically focused on autonomous artistic expression.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE is the title of the first solo exhibition of Līga Spunde in Vilnius, Lithuania curated by Romuald Demidenko at the apiece gallery. An installation by the Riga-based artist shaped as a gift, treated as a souvenir from a neighbour, or a seemingly selfless gesture from a friend.


“You brought us gifts,” Michelle Obama said to Melania Trump on January 20, 2017, during the presidential inauguration ceremony at the White House. However, the contents of a gift-wrapped box were not publicly disclosed, and neither Melania Trump nor Michelle Obama shared what was inside. What we saw was merely a bluish box and the exact details of the offering remained disclosed. According to the noteworthy century-old essay The Gift by sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss, there are no free presents, and almost everything should be reciprocated. With this in mind, in what way Michelle was expected to respond? Or was the offering she received already an ineffable expression of gratitude?

There were rumours and speculation that the incoming First Lady’s wrapped box was a frame. An empty frame, implying a box within a box? Līga and I pondered this during an exhibition opening in a private apartment in Amsterdam where she had contributed her cuboid-shaped plaster sculpture that was covered in bluish paint to look as eye-catching as a package that all the media ran through (1). We have become accustomed to the idea of giving something to others for special occasions but clearly, not all gifts are desirable, just as the viral video of Michelle’s embarrassed expression captured so well.

Līga Spunde’s exploration of the mysterious, unexpected, and probably unwanted gift involved creating a replica of the bluish box, titled You Brought Us Gifts. This sculpture was transported from her former residence in Brussels in March 2017, precisely seven years before the exhibition at apiece gallery in Vilnius. The artist, who currently resides in Riga, is also referencing her 2018 performative exhibition, Free French Fries, at Komplot in Brussels (2). Visitors to the event could taste Belgian (French) fries made from Latvian potatoes. The artist brought them from her homeland in a backpack crafted from red, yellow, and blue mesh potato bags. “(…) hideously appetising, shredded, sliced in the shape of stakes. Ideally aureate and crispy longitudinal potato pieces straight from non-polluted Latvia,” as the dish was advertised in the press release.

Through her installation showcased at apiece gallery, Līga Spunde proposes confusion rather than generosity, most likely expressing a gesture of mockery rather than addressing something specific. By partially concealing the glass walls of apiece gallery and wrapping it up almost entirely with a self-adhesive matter, the space becomes an anti-expositor. An object that is visible, yet remains hidden, reminiscent not only of public art traditions but also, perhaps unexpectedly, of neoliberal forms of advertising that can be both received as art and also confused with it. To comprehend the artist’s intention, she invites all interpretations and encourages us to consider varied notions of an (unsolicited) gift and its hidden meanings, bringing up forgotten covenants and convictions, and eventually leaving questions unanswered.

Does Līga Spunde deliberately address the potential of the unknown conceived on the eve of the United States election, coated in the midst of anti-democratic trends seen globally? For her Vilnius exhibition, she somewhat refrains from using graphic works that have become her signature in recent years. In her cartoonish work and open-ended compositions, Līga often depicts figures or deformed anthropomorphic and animal-like creatures, fairy-tale protagonists whose representations blend with those of non-human entities, drones and other devices known from our digital-realist surroundings. This amalgamation evokes a blend of fears and fantasies derived from the immediate reality we inhabit. “What is within?”—we’ll ask. “And how will it manifest to our eyes?”


Līga Spunde (1990, Riga) graduated in 2016 from the Department of Visual Communication of the Latvian Art Academy. Her works are multimedia installations, where personal stories are closely intertwined with carefully constructed fiction. The interpretations and use of recognisable characters serve as an extension of her personal experiences, tapping into general truths. Usually, the content of the work determines the physical form of the conception, so a variety of media and materials are used in the installations. Līga Spunde has participated in various exhibitions and art projects in Latvia and internationally such as Latvian Center for Contemporary Art, Kim? Contemporary Art Center, Latvian National Museum of Art, La Casa Encendida, National Gallery in Prague.


Romuald Demidenko is a curator and art historian based in Warsaw.


(1) Meet Me at The Metro Station, Amsterdam, GUEST ROOMS, March 4–10, 2017, with work by Ghislain Amar, Simon Asencio, Francisco Camacho, Nicholas Grafia, Hrafnhildur Helgadóttir, Anna Maria Łuczak, Gregor Różański, Līga Spunde, Susan Pietzsch & Miho Shimizu, Beata Wilczek, Annemarie van den Berg, and contributions from Helena Aðalsteinsdóttir, Ásgerður Birna Björnsdóttir, Emma Panza & Johan Romme, convened by Romuald Demidenko, http://guestrooms.xyz/prologue/, accessed February 2024.

(2) Līga Spunde, Free French Fries in Komplot, Brussels, June 30–July 1, 2017, introduction by Romuald Demidenko, https://www.kmplt.be/project_id_158, accessed February 2024.


Acknowledgments: Milena Černiakaitė, Aušra Trakšelytė, Samantha Lesley Lippett, Patryk Walaszkowski


Exhibition curator & text author: Romuald Demidenko

Exhibition coordinator: apiece

Communication: Menų komunikacija

Graphic design: Marek Voida

Photographer: Vytautas Narkevičius


Exhibition is funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture, State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia, Nordic Culture Point & Vilnius municipality.

Exhibition open until 5 May 2024

Exhibition is open 24/7.

More about apiece: www.apiece.lt