The Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2021 will take place in Riga from 8 May to 11 August. This international contemporary art event invites art enthusiasts to visit exhibitions, a symposium and discussions as well as meet the artists and curators at event venues and online.
This year’s NEXT 2021 programme focuses not only on young artists but also on curators, highlighting the role of curator as a mediator between the viewer, the artist and the work of art. During this difficult time, when digital communication has become the main form of communication for many people around the world, several of the biennial’s exhibitions and events have gained even more relevance, focusing on the heritage of today’s digital age and its impact on our perception, cognition and image culture in general.
The first event of the Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2021 will be the exhibition To Fall in Love, Click Here by Tīna Pētersone, the winner of the Emerging Curator! award. It will be on view from 8 May to 27 June at the Pilot experimental art space of the Art Academy of Latvia. With the Emerging Curator! award, the Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT in collaboration with the curatorial study programme at the Art Academy of Latvia has established a new tradition to promote understanding of a curator’s contribution and to simultaneously develop the profession of curator in Latvia. This year, an international jury granted the award to Pētersone, commenting on its decision: “Tīna Pētersone’s curatorial proposal seemed interesting because of the chosen topic – contemporary models of romantic relationships in which alienation and impermanence dominate. This resonates with the current global cultural context. The artists whom the curator has selected to work on this project reflect this theme perfectly. Their solutions, as outlined in Pētersone’s application, are exciting both spatially and in terms of content.”
From 14 May to 11 June, the window of Riga’s Smallest Art Gallery will feature the exhibition Inexplicable, Yet a Fact by the artist collective Subspatial.xyz (Aleksandrs Breže and Armands Freibergs), curated by Auguste Petre. Some will most certainly associate the title of this exhibition with the pseudo-documentary programme Необъяснимо, но факт broadcast on the Russian television channel TNT, which explored issues concerning aliens, werewolves, vampires and political conspiracy theories. Taking a step back from the particular content of such shows and ignoring the existence of aliens for a moment, Inexplicable, Yet a Fact examines the social constructions of the 21st century.
Vika Eksta’s solo exhibition Zvaigznīte (Little Star) will take place at the Gallery Alma from 11 June to 30 July. Considering the extent to which horses have supported the development of humanity and humans and the way horses have been utilised historically, Eksta travelled to a stable in Latgale amid the pandemic to meet so-called “model horses”. By studying the fading potential of the symbolically charged and photogenic image of the working horse, she created a series of images that was later combined into a single large-scale piece. Curated by Astrīda Riņķe (LV).
From 9 July to 11 August, the ISSP Gallery will host the solo exhibition Looking Forward to Meet Me by Visvaldas Morkevičius (LT), the winner of the Seeking the Latest in Photography! award. Looking Forward to Meet Me is realised as a (narcissistic) introspection – an artist’s self-analysis transformed into a visual and spatial work. While the collection of works within the project includes one self-portrait, it is framed underneath a pane of stained glass and remains almost imperceptible. The project is thus a portrait “in becoming” that relies on art history symbols, tropes borrowed from classical mythology, psychoanalytic interpretations and personal memories.
This is already the fourth time that the Seeking the Latest in Photography! award has been granted. The Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT founded the award to encourage young artists to reveal a conceptually deep and original view of the events of their time in visually powerful works of art, finding and highlighting new artists in the Baltics whose work has already displayed these qualities. Since 2019, the award has been presented as part of the biennial’s NEXT programme in cooperation with the ISSP Gallery.
Within the framework of the Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2021 programme, there will also be two exhibitions drawing attention to the enormous number of images created on smartphones and the development of digital technologies that are laying the foundations of a new memory culture:
Anja Carr’s (NO) solo exhibition Feedings will be on show in the Intro Hall of Riga Art Space. One of Carr’s main artistic interests are the endless image feeds that surround us and even flow through our pockets, namely, through the smartphones that are always at hand. This has encouraged her to repeatedly focus on this phenomenon – the flow of images as one of the most pronounced signs of our times – from different points of view and in various visual media. The curators of this exhibition are Inga Brūvere (LV) and Marie Sjøvold (NO).
Meanwhile, the Latvian Museum of Photography will host the Digital Dark Age exhibition, which brings together two solo exhibitions: Shadow of Materiality by Aap Tepper (EE) and Obedient Touch by Kristīne Krauze-Slucka (LV). The exhibiting artists examine the process that considers the emergence of a new phase of temporality being ushered into our society by the arrival of digital technologies with speed, mobility and globalism as its hallmarks. Communication forms of the new media are creating a novel memory culture, in which the individual has become a consumer of memory. This exhibition is curated by Anete Skuja (LV).
This year the Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT will also present an education programme that will offer opportunities to meet the artists and curators and attend various events in situ and online, including:
- The Re-Visions international online symposium from 18.00 to 19.30 on 8, 9 and 10 June will focus on the fundamental role of technology in the development of art and the exploration of innovative, creative concepts and the new opportunities and experiences for exhibiting art that artists have learned and implemented during the pandemic. The emphasis will be on the digital environment and digitisation processes, both as a unique project and as a solution to a crisis. Symposium participants: Vika Eksta (LV), Luna6, Jonas Lund (SE), Paola Paleari (IT/DK), Mike Pepi (US), Siim Preiman (EE), Airi Triisberg (EE). Curator: Agnese Pundiņa (LV).
- “The Curator’s Role and its Development” – a discussion at 18.00 on 17 June as part of the Emerging Curator! award, in which the participants of the discussion will address various issues affecting this field of work. Participants: Irēna Bužinska (LV), Auguste Petre (LV), Tīna Pētersone (LV) and Kaspars Vanags (LV). Moderator: Antra Priede.
- Presentations of the work by the finalists for the Seeking the Latest in Photography! award on July 8 at the ISSP Gallery. An international jury granted the main award to Visvaldas Morkevičius, while Kristīne Krauze-Slucka (LV) won the special prize consisting of the opportunity to publish her work with the Lithuanian publishing house NoRoutine Books (LT) for her project Vibrations of a Material Universe: Thirst for Gold. This evening of presentations will feature five projects submitted for this award highlighting the work of young artists in the Baltics. Artists: Adelīna Kalniņa (LV), Audrius Kriaučiūnas (LT), Visvaldas Morkevičius (LT), Zanda Puče (LV) and Vinita Vilcāne Krilova (LV).
To appraise and promote the exchange of ideas in the theory of contemporary art, as well as provide an interdisciplinary view of the processes taking place in the art environment of Latvia, this year the Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2021 has also prepared a publication that examines the impact of the digital environment on contemporary photography and offers an in-depth overview of the biennial’s events. The richly illustrated publication also introduces the biennial’s exhibitions, events and artists. The Pocket Exhibition section presents Your Post Has Been Removed, Your Account Might Be Deleted, an exhibition that consists of work by ten artists whose posts were deleted from their Instagram accounts for violating the rules of the social networking platform. Curator Evita Goze has invited the following artists: Daantje Bons @daantjebons (NL), Kostis Fokas @kostis_fokas (GR), Andi Gáldi Vinkó @andigaldi (HU), Annemarija Gulbe @annemarijag (LV), Dragana Jurišić @dragana23 (HR), Jordanna Kalman @rabbitsparrow (US), Yushi Li @yushilii (CN), Colin Pantall @colin_pantall (GB), Ngadi Smart @ngadismart (SL/GB), Pēteris Vīksna @peterisviksna (LV).
The Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT is an international contemporary art event focusing on the analysis of visual culture and artistic representation. NEXT focuses 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 and curators, the NEXT programme offers visibility and provides a platform for artists and curators to announce themselves to a wider context.
NEXT 2021 friends and partners: State Culture Capital Foundation, Riga City Council, VV Foundation, Association of Culture Institutions of Riga City Council, Riga Art Space exhibition hall, Art Academy of Latvia, Latvian Museum of Photography, ALMA Gallery, ISSP Gallery, Pilot Experimental Art Space, Riga’s Smallest Art Gallery, NoRoutine Books (LT), Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Latvia, Royal Norwegian Embassy in Riga, ADverts printing house, Hibnerstudio, Arterritory, Satori, LSM, Blok Magazine (PL), Punctum, Literatūra ir menas (LT), Latvijas Radio, Radio NABA.