Latvian arts magazine - the best of the year

  • 2000-12-14
  • Elina Cerpa
The highlight of the Latvian art scene in 2000 occurred at the end of November, when the Latvian Artists Union announced its annual "Best of the Year" award winners in 11 categories. In all, 118 artists were nominated this year, with an average of 14 in each category. Nominations came from the Union's board and from its membership. The biggest prize went to the visual arts magazine Studija for its professional, highquality and thorough showcasing of Latvian art, as well as its descriptions of current art events.

Studija, an 88-page bi-monthly full-color magazine, is published in Latvian and English and is sponsored by the Latvian Cultural Capital foundation, the Ministry of Culture and the Latvian Culture Foundation.

Asked if they were expecting the award, Studija's editor-in-chief, Laima Slava, gave a resounding "„o."

"We thought that maybe we would be nominated for the art publications category, but we didn't expect to get the Best of the Year award. It is very important for your work to be evaluated by professionals! It would be hypocrisy to say that this doesn't mean anything to us. We are all working with our hearts and souls. And now we are waiting for the next stage. Everyone will now pay attention to us and want to find out about us."

Asked how she would describe Studija to a person who had never seen it Slava said:

"When we first started I formulated the magazine's goal: to create a spiritual space which would encompass developments in all the significant art forms in Latvia, as well as events, artists, authors, readers and spectators. When we started the art scene was rather depressed. Some galleries were running, but artists were more or less isolated - the feeling of community had disappeared. This magazine came about with the aim of rejuvenating that common feeling. It's in the nature of artists to work in solitude, so for them contact with the rest of the artistic world is essential. It is not like the business world, the world of commerce. Rather, the art world resonates with thoughts and actions. But the lack of such worlds was very obvious. So we decided to create a magazine which shows people what is going on in the minds of artists of different generations who may be coming from different directions. At the same time we bring news of art events around the world."

Part of the magazine is translated into English. "Not all articles are translated, but only those, which in our opinion are of international significance, such as artists' portraits, events, and projects that could be generally important," said Slava.

She also described the process of launching the magazine:

"We first entered a Ministry of Culture project competition in 1997 but our project did not succeed. So together with design-director Juris Petraskevics we applied again the next year. The Latvian newspaper Diena supported us by providing color separation services and after that we won the Ministry of Culture competition.

We can exist if we are needed in the professional world and by interested readers. This is a fascinating moment when professionals give us their support, because it means we can start to earn money, although we can't break even.

Studija was originally produced four times a year but now comes out six times per year. In addition to outlets in Latvia it can be purchased at the Stockholm Modern Museum and from Kiasma, the Modern Museum in Finland. Studija is currently developing contacts with bookstor-ming web site which showcases European and Eastern art magazines.