Making a case for the Bildes festival

  • 2007-11-21
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon

HEAD CASE: The Bildes music festival sets itself apart by having musicians create art. This year's theme was "suitcases."

RIGA - Let's face it 's music festivals are a dime a dozen in Latvia. Be it jazz, folk, rock or blues, it seems there's a new festival cropping up every week. That's why some festivals are taking creative new approaches to stand out from the crowd. Bildes is one such festival.
Founded in 1985 during the Soviet era, Bildes has long been one of Latvia's leading music festivals and the place where many now-legendary artists first made names for themselves.
Not content to simply ride the wave of popularity and name recognition, however, the festival is constantly evolving and constantly changing.

Bildes combines music and contemporary art to form an all-encompassing sort of festival. Many of the visual artworks are created by the musicians themselves, but assistant festival director Kristine Laicane said that they also invite professional photographers, artists, actors, children and even journalists (sadly I couldn't make it 's but then again maybe that's a good thing) to take part.
Most of the artwork is created at a summer camp which takes place in the run up to the festival. This year, the summer camp was held in Austria and featured a number of prominent musicians, artists, actors, photographers and in many cases the participants' children.

"In recent years, the exhibitions have been thematic," a Bildes press release reads.
"The musicians have painted table surfaces, plates, bottles, and shirts; they have created installations from elements of computer technology; they have utilized such items as chairs, pillows and blankets and spoons as objects expressing their artistic thought, and have created wondrous works from buttons," it says.
This year's theme is "suitcases." There will be two major suitcase art exhibitions, a photographic exhibition titled Alpine Suitcases and a creative work exhibition titled "The Suitcase Parade."

Working with the Foreign Ministry, the organizers have invited ambassadors foreign and local to submit works to the exhibition (diplomats are not generally known for their artistic flair, but you never know).
"The suitcase is an item familiar to everyone. In our opinion, utilizing such a familiar item will make the creation of design objects from fantasy a reality, [an] 'artistic' transformation… thereby expressing one's view of the world and attitude to things and manifestations around us," the press release says.
The musical part of the festival will encompass six days of shows 's covering a wide variety of genres 's by artists from Latvia, Nigeria and Denmark. The shows will take place in the Cetri Balti Krekli and the Riga Congress Center Nov. 27 - 29 and Dec. 6 - 8 respectively.

There will be two days of blues and jazz, a day of folk, a day of children's music, a day for the "veterans" of the festival and a day for the newbies. Each day has a surprisingly long list of artists.
With the plethora of festivals sprouting up in Latvia it can be difficult to find one which promises something a little different, but with Bildes' long list of prominent artists and suitcase exhibitions, something new and original is bound to pop up.

Bildes music and art festival
Music Nov. 27 - 29, Dec. 6 - 8
Art on display Dec. 6 - 8
Tickets 5- 8 lats in advance, 10 at the door (Latvian only)