Reversed library made by Nikos Navridis, Faculty of Biology.
So I have seen just 5 out of 8 venues, but let us start. First of all- I never would have found Riga biennale without Instagram. Second- 2 days is minimum for seeing everything. And now that Riga edition of Baltic triennale has started, you would need a taxi to do everything in 2 days!
Indre Šerpytyte, Former NKVD-MVD-MGB-KGB buildings, Kristaps Morbergs
Riga biennale is definitely stronger than Berlin biennale this year. It uses the exhibition spaces brilliantly (for example Sputnik Photos in Recidence of Kristaps Morbergs), shows high diversity of works and exhibion spaces. Themes is each location varies and communicates with the former use of the building. So biennale aptly communicates with the city and its past. I haven’t seen yet OpenART biennale in Örebro, but I think Riga biennale is seriously competing a place in the biennale number 1 in Baltic states and Scandinavia. Helsinki biennale 2020 really has to work out to reach the same level!
So I started with Sporta2 square, continued to Residence of Kristaps Morbergs, The Former Faculty of Biology of the University of Latvia and Andrejsala. Everything by foot. Next day I saw Art Station Dubulti in Jurmala.
If you have time just for one venue, Faculty of Biology is the main venue and for the enthusiastics of science. For soviet lovers place to go is Recidence of Kristaps Morbergs. Just to see interesting harbour place with less art go to Andrejsala. Sporta2 square is quite average abandoned place, but nice works and proximity to lovely brunches of MiiT Coffee. Dupulti is not big venue, but goes well together with Jurmala trip. It has a smell work of Tilman Wendland (collected from different sea/shore locations). Just to mention Christian Skeel’s ja Morten Skriver’s smell work ”Babylon” is one of the most loved works in Kiasma, Helsinki.
But here are some highlights what I saw:
Sputnik Photos is a collective of photographers, that has documented change in post-communist countries. In Faculty of Biology they have recreated anatomical models from labs in former Soviet countries, and in Kristaps Morbergs they have hidden under torn wallpaper photos of places symptomatic of change.
Also Augustas Serapinas aptly uses the exhibition space in his work “Occupier”, that is including empty room and a sculpture in the second one that is reproduction of the first room. One could think that the occupied object is for example a post Soviet country, like Lithuania in artist’s case.
The space was brilliantly used also in the work of Mark Dion in Faculty of Biology, where you navigated between shelves to find the actual sculptures.
In Sporta2 Square I was inspired by Erik Kessels Chain of Freedom, tribute to Baltic Way demonstration where 2 million people joined hands in a chain of 675.5km across Baltic states 23.8.1989, organized by pro-independence movements. Later on I somehow managed to continue the theme visiting European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk. Erik Kessels also had a “find Waldo” installation in Faculty of Biology named Human Zoo positioning photos of human beings in the middle of zoological collection.
I loved Taus Makhacheva’s work in last Venice biennale and I loved it in Sporta2. She has room full of travelling speakers apologizing late reply to an e-mail.
One of the the most photo friendly works was the Maarten Vanden Eynde’s Pinpointing Progress, a monument to local production and ironical monument to speed of industrialised evolution, and a reference to sculpture Town Musicians of Bremen in Riga centre based on the story of Brothers Grimm where ill-treated animals find together freedom.
In Andrejsala conceptually I really liked Danilo Correale’s “Mr Bojangles… May also enjoy”
OK, there would be still many works to share, but let us wait for my other visit in Riga 🙂