Garden of Forking Paths, National
Museum of Latvia, 2018

The installation is inspired by the work of the visionary but little-known Latvian artist in exile, Zanis Waldheims and his cosmology that manifested complex ideas relating to the state of the world in the mid to later part of the twentieth century. Through countless coloured geometric abstractions, he strove to construct visual diagrams in order to ultimately make the world a better place .

Lutyens encourages visitors ‘to abandon the world of writing’ (or world of words?) as Waldheims himself prescribed, through becoming physically immersed in a sensory labyrinth-like space surrounded by pure abstractions of light, colour and sound.

The title of the work derives from a short story by writer Jorge Luis Borges in which pathways not only diverge in space, but also in time. Multiplicity of dimensions, for perception and observation, as well as action in the world, is an idea corresponding to both Waldheims’ and Lutyens’ practices, often taking utopian and experimental turns.

As a way of exploring the possibilities of different senses and accessibility, a workshop over several sessions with a visually impaired community was conducted, using the patterns of Waldheims’ abstractions to make perforated colouring cards. Participants were introduced to Waldheim’s ideas while colouring the cards, and creating their own schemas They also discussed colours, shapes and the limits of language, as well as how to overcome, in some cases, the lack of senses through sensory substitution– where touch, hearing proprioception and the sense of smell may lead to a kind of hyper-sensing, also known as synaesthesia.

Some of the voices from the visually impaired community are incorporated into the soundscape of the labyrinth as a kind of wayfinding mechanism. They voice the words for colours in Latvian, Russian and English that they have never actually seen, as the visitor uses a kind of technological, hyper-subjective ‘third eye,’ as well as proprioceptive and orientation skills to navigate ‘The Garden of Forking Paths.’

Solvita Krese, Inga Lāce, Antra Priede-Krievkalne, Diāna Popova, Andra Silapētere / Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art
BlindArt, Strazdumuiža Boarding School, Latvian Society of the Blind, ForceMultiplier (Aaron Drake & Sage Lewis),
Thanks to the support of:
British Council Latvia, 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material and Brilliant Reflective,
Photos courtesy of Parnesajamas Ainavas