Art gets input from Russian Embassy, Wiesenthal Center

  • 2000-05-25
RIGA (BNS) - Organizers of the modern art exhibition N.E.W.S., seeking
to avoid political disagreements, have decided to request the opinion
of the Russian Embassy and Simon Wiesenthal Center about their plan to
put up posters with text "Are you aware of your ethnic background?" in
the streets of Riga.

The decision was taken by the art gallery Noass that organizes the
exhibition, said Noass chairman of the board Dzintars Zilgalvis.

The matter of putting up the posters by a Polish artist in the city is
no more artistic but political, and the organizers want to find out if
the text on the posters could be perceived as offensive, Zilgalvis

Although there have been no official complaints about the posters,
unofficially it has been said the posters could be provocative, said
the Noass chief. He added the only institutions that could cause any
problems were the Russian Embassy and the Nazi-hunting Wiesenthal

"In this political atmosphere we shouldn't provoke situations that
could create consequences on the political level in the country,"
Zilgalvis said.

He said the letters to the Russian Embassy and the Wiesenthal Center
would be written on May 23.

"We will take the courage to put up the posters depending on how soon
we get the response," said Zilgalvis.

Riga City Council architecture department said artist Maija Galdina
allowed the posters to be put up around the city. The company that runs
the advertisement boards intended for the posters had previously
refused to put them up.

Galdina said in her resolution there are no objections to artistic
composition and the principle of making posters.

Riga City Council development committee head Juris Visockis said on May
23 the question on erecting the posters should not be politcized.

The content of the posters previously was not coordinated with the
city's artists, therefore the design firm Rigas Dizains director
Raimonds Garenciks did not allow them on the advertisement boards run
by the firm.

The artists submitted the documents for coordination of the posters
with the architecture department only on May 22.

It was planned to put up in Riga, as part of N.E.W.S. modern art
exhibition, red posters by Polish artist Pjotr Komarinczky bearing a
notice "Are you aware of your ethnic background?" The artist himself
did not want to add any explanatory notices to the text.