Riga Photography Biennial 2024 exhibition 'To Be We Need to Know the River' in Sigulda

2024 04 27 — 2024 05 31
Author Echo Gone Wrong
Published in Events in Latvia

The Riga Photography Biennial is going outside Riga – from 30 April to 31 May the exhibition “To Be We Need to Know the River” will be on view at the Cultural Centre “Siguldas Devons”. Three Baltic artists – Mari-Leen Kiipli (EE), Kotryna Ūla Kiliulytė (LT), Sabīne Šnē (LV) – and exhibition curator Inga Brūvere (LV) continue the Riga Photography Biennial 2024 theme of contemporary identity issues by focusing on nature and human as one of its elements. The exhibition will open on 27 April at 12 noon.

It’s no accident that the exhibition “To Be We Need to Know the River” takes place in Sigulda, since the unique local landscapes with picturesque river panoramas and Devonian rock outcrops – sandstone cliffs and caves – have been particularly beloved by travellers from as early as the Romantic period in the 19th century. Unfortunately, talking about nature in the 21st century means neither enjoyment of the landscape, nor the struggle against it, but rather talking about the changing climate that threatens us all, about ecology, the greedy exploitation of nature through the use of technologies, the mistaken relationship between humans and nature in which Homo sapiens ignores the survival needs of all other species for the sake of its convenience.

The artists Sabīne Šnē, Kotryna Ūla Kiliulytė and Mari-Leen Kiipli share a perspective on this network of life following current ecofeminist ideas. These call for replacing the hierarchical understanding of species and human dominance with solidarity, an awareness that nature in its entirety is interdependent and connected in a finely built network where the tiniest entity has its important role. In the search for contemporary spirituality, just like in biology, the concept of Gaia, which is borrowed from classical Greek culture, has gained significance. It treats the planet as a single organism and, in this era of climate transformations, encourages observing how the biosphere and the evolution of organisms influence the fluctuations of global temperatures, seawater salinity, hydrosphere, atmosphere and other environmental factors which affect Earth’s liveability.

Sabīne Šnē has borrowed the title of her mixed media installation “To Be We Need to Know the River” from Ursula K. Le Guin’s poem “Infinitive”. It is an answer to the questions put forward by the installation: “What might Earth look like in the future? Will it continue to be inhabited by both humans and other living organisms? And what can we learn from our neighbours – a variety of living beings and their ways of life?” On this occasion, she studied blue mussels, lichens, dung beetles and mycelium. Mari-Leen Kiipli’s video installation is devoted to a scientist who studies anomalies in nature next to a paper mill and over the course of her work discovers a deep spiritual kinship with the river. But Kotryna Ūla Kiliulytė makes sensitive use of video, photography, light and text to show climate change, the irreversible man-made processes on the planet, comparing them with the timelines of a woman’s pregnancy.

On 18 May at 12 noon, a talk dedicated to the exhibition will take place in the Cultural Centre “Siguldas Devons”, and the week before – on 11 May from 11 am to 2 pm – children are invited to participate in a creative workshop with the artist Līga Spunde. The Cultural Centre “Siguldas Devons” is open from Tuesday to Saturday. For the exhibition and events entry is free. More information: www.sigulda.lv.

The Riga Photography Biennial 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.

Supporters and partners of the exhibition: State Culture Capital Foundation, Sigulda City Council, Cultural Centre “Siguldas Devons”, Estonian Embassy in Riga, printing house “Adverts”, “Rixwell Hotels”, VPT Group, Arterritory.com, Echo Gone Wrong, NOBA, Street Level Photoworks, Northern Photographic Centre, Creative Scotland, Lithuanian Culture Council, Hope Scott Trust.

For more information about the Riga Photography Biennial: www.rpbiennial.com