Riga enlightened

  • 2010-09-01
  • By Anna Kravcova

ALL LIT UP: The Nuits Blanche project will fill Riga with all sorts of art exhibits and performances.

RIGA - If you think white nights is a phenomenon that happens once a year, in June in St. Petersburg, you are obviously rarely following the cultural news. Be prepared to liberalize your mind! This autumn the nights are going to be bright in Europe, and the first light is to be seen in Riga. This is not a natural disaster or magic trick of a talented illusionist. This is a cultural enlightenment of the 21st century.

The project Nuits Blanche originated in Paris on Oct. 5 – 6, 2002. Its purpose was to promote art and creative work in all of its aspects. Commenting on the essence of this event on the official Nuits Blanche Web page, the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, said: “Nuit Blanche allows us to reassert the pressing need for culture, which is not just simply good for the soul; it essentially anchors and guides our modern societies.”

The light set on in Paris happened to be so powerful that it quickly spread to other European capitals, such as Brussels, Rome, Madrid, Bucharest, Amsterdam and Valetta. In 2006, Riga picked up the slack and became the only Baltic country to take part in this wonderful cultural event, which has already transformed into a certain tradition.

The overwhelming majority appointed Nuits Blanche 2010 on September-October, giving their citizens one more reason not to regret the gone summer. The only exception was made by Amsterdam, where it occurred on June 19. Thus, one can say that Riga city will practically open the chain of upcoming autumn celebrations, organizing its feast on Sept. 4.
More than 50 different kinds of art projects in the city center and Riga districts are waiting to be seen and properly evaluated. Video and audio installations, exhibitions, theater performances, and many other interesting activities are among them.

The economic crisis could not help affecting contemporary art, and its influence is very well seen on the example of the “Survival Kit” festival, which happens to be a part of Nuits Blanche. It comprises some elements of post-modernism and abstractionism, and represents ideas of anti-globalization and anti-consumerism, implemented in a very unusual form of art.
In the framework of this festival, the Danish group of artists “Superflex” presents its famous sound and video installation “Flooded McDonald’s” in the RIXC gallery. It shows the audience a typical McDonald’s restaurant gradually flooded with water. There are no action scenes or special effects, and yet this could be called a disaster film. Simple on the surface, it has a deep philosophical connotation about the possible future of the whole of human kind.

Artist Patrick Graf from Zurich, in his turn, will present for public attention a cardboard installation, “Being a Human.” Most of the phenomena, familiar to the modern eye, such as shops, cash machines, money and even people will be found there, made from cardboard. Both installations make us stop and think of how fragile the world we are living in is, and which way we are choosing.

A great deal of attention during this night will be devoted to the art of sounds. Music will be heard on the streets of Riga, filling our ears with energy and positive emotions. At 7 p.m. Latvian artist Margita Zalite will lead the best Latvian and foreign musicians, such as Annika B. Lewis, Sadie Lune and Valentin Butt to the squares and parks of Riga city to accompany the events with wonderful chamber music. In addition, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Nuits Blanche participants will have an opportunity to visit the studio of Latvian Radio 101, listen to DJ music and live performances.

One of the most notable music performances will be by the Finnish vocal orchestra, “Complaints Choir.” The members of the group have learned to make use of their negative emotions, claims, complaints and dissatisfaction, turning it into a beautiful melody. At 8 p.m. they will sing in Gertrudes Street Theater, motivating people to participate and give freedom to their feelings.

Cinema fans will be glad to know that there will be plenty of films shown during the Nuit Blanche, and all one needs to do is to choose which one to attend. Vermanu darzs will make space for an outdoor cinema, where one will have the possibility to see three French motion pictures, short films “Keep left” and “School of postmen” starting at 9:20 p.m., and a musical “Les Mademoiselles de Rochefort,” beginning at 10 p.m. Latvian cinematography will not be left without attention, either. “K. Suns” movie theater organizes the festival, presenting the works of young Latvian directors. It will include 8 short motion pictures of all genres.

All in all, Nuit Blanche is an ideal opportunity to spend time with your friends or family and experience a lot of positive emotions. “Join in!,” as the official slogan says, and do not forget that all the events are absolutely free of charge.