The Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2019 contemporary art event will take place in Riga and Berlin from 4 April until 28 June, inviting audiences to exhibitions, a portfolio review, lectures and a symposium about activism in the latest art from the Baltics. The biennial’s off-year programme NEXT has been developed with a focus on emerging artists who are at the beginning of their creative careers and provides an opportunity to present their work in a wider context.
The RPB – NEXT 2019 launch events will take place in Riga on 4–6 April. The exhibition (UN)NATURAL BODIES by Polish Young Artists will open on 4 April at the Latvian Museum of Photography. This exhibition examines the notion of ‘unnatural bodies’ through a mixture of mediums and visual language elements. The participating artists are interested in bodies that do not fit neatly into the monolithic culture of our society, bodies that are different and seemingly incomprehensible. The artists invite us to relate to these bodies exposed in their sensuality, intimacy and vulnerability. All of the works have been created by students and graduates of the Photography Department of the University of Arts in Poznań (Poland). On 5 April, as part of this exhibition, critic and curator Adam Mazur (Poland) will deliver a lecture titled ‘Our Bodies in Photography’ at the Latvian Museum of Photography.
This year, for the first time in its history, the Riga Photography Biennial (RPB) has organised a portfolio review inviting emerging and professional photographers to meet with industry representatives from the Baltic, Nordic and other European countries and to gain feedback and guidance for further developing their practice. The portfolio review will take place on 5 April at the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia and the ISSP Gallery in Berga Bazārs (Bergs Bazaar), as will the main event of the festival – the exhibition of the finalists for the ‘Seeking the Latest in Photography!’ award. The results of the competition were announced in November 2018 by an international jury, but RPB – NEXT 2019 will be the first opportunity for the general public to view these works.
The launch of the finalists’ exhibition will coincide with the opening of the solo exhibition Joyful Businessmen Having Fun in the Office by this year’s winner of the award, Annija Muižule (Latvia), whose work was appraised by the jury as a ‘humorous and critical analysis of contemporary photography’. The ‘Seeking the Latest in Photography!’ award is being presented for the third time already. In future, the RPB’s ‘Seeking the Latest in Photography!’ award will be organised as part of the off-year programme NEXT.
On 6 April, the ISSP Gallery will host an international symposium titled ‘Manifestations of (In)Activism in the Latest Baltic Art’, which aims to ascertain the presence of political and social activism in the creative practices of emerging Baltic artists and will examine the relationship between activism and art in general. Among the symposium’s participants will be emerging artists themselves as well as curators and art historians: artist Mētra Saberova (Latvia), art critic and curator Jana Kukaine (Latvia), art theoretician and curator Airi Triisberg (Estonia), artist Kaisa Maasik (Estonia), photographic artist Šarūnas Kvietkus (Lithuania) and artist and photographer Rafal Milach (Poland) to name just a few.
Meanwhile, the launch of the exhibition Blood Pressure by Latvian artist and winner of the RPB’s ‘Seeking the Latest in Photography!’ 2018 award Diāna Tamane (Latvia) will take place on 12 April in Berlin. This is a first-time collaboration with the Berlin art gallery pavlov’s dog. In creating this exhibition, Tamane was inspired by a collection of images she found in her grandmother’s family photo album. By piecing together her own and her family’s experiences in a cohesive collage, which consists of images taken by the artist herself as well as found images and texts, the narrative process has revealed not only a highly personal but also much a wider mirror of our recent past and present-day society.
The exhibition P by Viktorija Eksta will open on 25 April at the Alma Gallery in Riga. It is a visual tale about the effects of night-shift work on the daily life of an individual, inspired by French artist Sophie Calle and her experiment with people whom she documented while they were asleep in their beds.
On 29 April, a lecture by Katarzyna Sagatowska at the ISSP Gallery will welcome audiences interested in learning about professional strategies applied in the art photography market.
The closing event of RPB – NEXT 2019 will take place on 19 May at the Ziemeļblāzma Culture Palace. It will launch an exhibition of work and books by the NoRoutine Books publishing house award winners: Madara Gritāne (Latvia), Ieva Balode (Latvia) and Reinis Lismanis (Latvia). In February 2019, a jury from the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania listed Gritāne’s book Layers (Slāņi; NoRoutine Books, Lithuania) among the six best art books published in Lithuania in 2018, which is a testament to the trust and similar worldview shared between the author and publisher and expressed in a single work of art.
This year we have once again prepared a collection of articles with the aim to actualise and facilitate an exchange of opinions on contemporary art theory and to present a multidisciplinary view on the processes taking place in the field of art in Latvia. As an independent project within the catalogue, the image series “FARM ™ GC TV” (2019) by the creative collective GolfClayderman will be featured as well. The Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2019 publication will be available at participating festival venues.
The Riga Photography Biennial (RPB) is an international contemporary art event, focusing on the analysis of visual culture and artistic representation. The term ‘photography’ in the title of the biennial is used as an all-embracing concept encompassing a mixed range of artistic image-making practices that have continued to transform the lexicon of contemporary art in the 21st century. The biennial’s Off-year Programme focuses mainly on young and promising artists from the Baltics, Nordic countries and Europe who are still in the early stages of their careers.By introducing young and promising artists, the Off-year Programme offers visibility and provides a platform for artists to announce themselves to a wider context. To emphasise the focus of the Off-year Programme as different from the biennial’s main programme, the Off-year events have been given the special title Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT. The word ‘next’ (used in its original form in English and not translated) embodies the idea of movement. ‘Next’ is a transition – never safe, predictable or known in advance, it has a direct and irrevocable presence that constantly poses the question: ‘Does whatever comes next in any way link to what was before? Can the new really be radically new?’
Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2019 partners and supporters: State Culture Capital Foundation, Riga City Council, Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Poland), Goethe-Institut Riga, ISSP Gallery, Nordic Council of Minister’s Office in Latvia, Gallery ALMA, Culture palace “Ziemeļblāzma”, Gallery pavlov’s dog (Germany), NoRoutine Books (Lithuania), Latvian Museum of Photography, Estonia, Poland, Finland and Sweden Embassies in Latvia, Lux Express, Rixwell Hotel, Valmiermuiža, Hibners and other partners.