RIGA - Riga Photography Biennial (RPB), an international contemporary art event, will take place from 5 to 8 April, offering a varied programme of exhibitions, performances, symposium, discussions and masterclasses. The theme of this year’s Biennial is self-awareness – who we are and who we choose to become in times when social, political and cultural dynamics afford us continuous and new transformation opportunities. Riga Photography Biennial 2018 is part of a wider programme celebrating the centenary of the Republic of Latvia.
‘The Pleasure of Ignorance’ by Inga Erdmane launches at The Latvian Museum of Photography on 5 April. In 2016 Erdmane invited five clients from the State Probation Service of Latvia to take part in a photography masterclass. Their work will now be exhibited in this exhibition. A 1000-page photo book ‘The Pleasure of Ignorance’ has been compiled as part of the project. It documents the creative process of five people and introduces their collection of images, thus attesting to freedom that can be attained by not knowing the rules and traditions of photography. A group exhibition ‘Implicit Memory’ by photographer Andrejs Grants’ students Anda Magone, Laila Halilova and Rūta Kalmuka will launch concurrently at The Latvian Museum of Photography. Each artist will exhibit an autobiographical black and white series of analogue photography created over a few years, in which the main subjects are their children, thus bringing to our attention the daily reality of a woman and her identity in family.
From 6 April, the exhibition ‘Today I’m a mermaid. Tomorrow I’ll be a unicorn’ at Gallery MuseumLV will invite visitors to let their imaginations run free and become a princess, a cosmonaut, an elf, a soldier or a unicorn. Meanwhile the ironically playful projects selected by curator Šelda Puķīte problematize the current socio-political climate in the West where extreme nationalists, supporters of authoritarian regimes and representatives from the business world, like stars in a reality-show, have seeped inside the political arena alongside rational decisions based on common sense. Latvian and international contemporary artists, as well as several pop culture representatives (YouTube star Mike Diva; Canadian musician and producer Grimes; creator of American black humour and absurd films Harmony Korine and others) transform products of mass culture into magnificent visions and social activism. This exhibition will also feature a performance by artists Ivars Grāvlejs and Margrieta Griestiņa - the tame fashion show ‘Kebab’.
Latvian photographer Reinis Hofmanis’ and Estonian artist, designer and critic Margus Tamm’s outdoor exhibition ‘I Want You!’ will be displayed at public transport stops in Riga from 9 April. This project was inspired by the traditions of commercial advertising and agit-prop, inviting anyone to enlist in the Baltic ‘magic army’ where imagination merges with the reality creating an invincible machinery.
The exhibition ‘Video Salon’ at Alma Gallery will launch on 11 April. It’s author ‘GolfClayderman’ – a company with unlimited responsibility revives and romanticises the aesthetics of daily life by incorporating pop culture and the glamour of consumerist society from the early 2000s in their work. Artists from this collective emphasise that in art they are interested in friendship and love.
Meanwhile the main event of the Biennial will launch on 12 April - international exhibition ‘Screen Age I: Self-Portrait’ at Riga Art Space, curated by Inga Brūvere and Marie Sjovold (NO). Twelve artists from ten countries will take part in this exhibition.
Juno Calypso (UK), Antoine Catala (FR/US), Kate Cooper (UK/NL),
Aneta Grzeszykowska (PL), Kristina Õllek (EE), Paul Paper (LT), Juuke Schoorl (NL) & Frank Kolkman (NL), Līga Spunde (LV), Charlote Thiis-Evensen (NO), Elina Vainio (FI), Hannes Widemann (DE), Anna Zett (DE). The exhibition reveals their contemplation on how technologies influence and alter our perception of the self, relationships and nature. The creative method employed by authors is investigative and reflexive, drawing attention to various aspects of human identity such as body, gender/sex, social and historical circumstances. During this exhibition, work by Diāna Tamane (LV), Taavi Suisalu (EE) and Kristīne Madjare (LV) - the finalists of Riga Photography Biennial Award 2018 ‘Seeking the Latest in Photography!’ will also be on show at Riga Art Space.
The main event also includes the symposium ‘Now Memories’, which will take place on 13 and 14 April at Riga Art Space. Eight presentations from critics, historians and artists from the Baltic States and Europe will provide a critical summary on how the history of photography in the three Baltic countries is written and shaped, using as examples ‘nude photography and light porno in the 80s’, ‘the role of photography on social networks’, ‘photographic mapping’ and other subjects.
Riga Photography Biennial (RPB) events will take place until 8 July in Riga, Daugavpils, Cēsis, Liepāja and Tartu and will conclude in November with the exhibition ‘They Crept into Their Father’s Sleep’ by Norwegian photographer and curator Marie Sjøvold (NO) at Liepaja Museum.
The title of the Biennial ‘I Like Your Face’ using face as a metaphor highlights the complex processes involved in the formation of identity and meaning. Face as a mask or a role we take on every day and an image we see when we look at the other. On social media we often ‘like’ something – but what do we really see and what is imagined? Is it possible to convene with the other without categorising and thematising? The biennial examines these relationship issues by questioning how our emotional world manifests itself mentally in the climate that’s transformed by modern technologies and how imagined belonging to some fantastical reality co-exists with daily social identities.
Please visit www.rpbiennial.com to see the full programme of Riga Photography Biennial 2018.