It’s been shown at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Sydney, at Parliament House in Canberra, The University Of Melbourne, and in the Latvian capital – Riga, now the feature-length documentary Thrown into the World will screen at Cooma’s Little Theatre.
Cooma happens to be the hometown of Imants Tillers, one of Australia’s best-loved contemporary artists and the film, directed by Antra Cilinska of Juris Podnieks Studio, tracks his work as an artist and his connection to Latvia.
“My parents were both displaced persons after Latvia was occupied by both the Nazi’s and the Soviets during world war two,” Imants says from his Cooma studio “they met in a refugee camp in Germany and came to Australia in 1949.”
A prominent artist since the 1970s, Imants has been an influential advocate of conceptual art and postmodern discourse in Australia. He works primarily with appropriation, intuitively combining existing artworks, ideas, literature and ‘ready-made’ poetry in his imagery.
Although he was born in Sydney, Imants grew up speaking Latvian at home, only learning English when he went to school and he says that in some ways, although he was never displaced personally, he has inherited the syndrome of displaced people.
“The migrant experience is quite common in Australia and I think there’s a universal dimension as well,” he says thoughtfully.
“Much of my work deals with identity and asking – what is my identity?”
Thrown into the World was filmed on about 30 days over two years, in Australia and Latvia and offers unique insight into Imants Tillers’ creative process and cross-cultural identity.
The film was designed to complement his 2018 retrospective exhibition at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga.
“In most cases, art is presented as an exhibition and the audience has no idea of the history of the artist or how the works are made,” Imants comments.
A proud Cooma resident, Imants and his wife, Jenny, still live on 12 acres in the middle of town in the same house they raised their two daughters in.
“It’s quite a special place, with beautiful old gardens with 150-year-old trees,” Imants says “we love Cooma and we like the Monaro landscape, although it can be quite harsh and austere. We like to go walking in the mountains in summer.”
Although Imants had no rural experience before moving from Sydney to Cooma 30 years ago, he has come to appreciate rural life and the diversity of the rural population.
“I don’t mind having a bit of distance from the art world, which goes up and down, here we can be friends with farmers,” he says.
It’s thanks to a few of those local friends that the film will be shown in Cooma.
Thrown into the World screens on Saturday, August 17 at Cooma Little Theatre at 7 pm. Entry is free and includes a light supper.