"RIBOCA" the Riga Contemporary Art Biennal: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More

Kooness - 12 Jul 2018

Art magazine - art news -

Under the curation of Katerina Gregos, Riga’s first biennial RIBOCA – which runs from the 2th of June until the 28th of October – has a strong Baltic focus, with over half of the artists coming from the region.

Change is a constant and imperceptible process. Nothing remains the same and yet it often feels as if things are fixed solid certainties. Change operates in strange ways. ‘Ta panta rhei’ (everything flows), the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus pointed out, meaning that: everything is constantly changing, from the smallest organic particle to the whole universe. (Katerina Gregos, Chief curator, 1st Riga Biennial)

Titled Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More, after Alexei Yurchak’s book of the same name, the event features more than 104 artists, including 10 collectives, who engage with how we anticipate, experience and adapt to change, particularly during this time of rapid technological advances. The title of the show, however, points to the unreliable nature of change. In particular, the biennial considers how moments of transition and transformation affect our bodies, psyches and behaviours.


 RIBOCA, Opening event at Art Station Dubulti, Photo by Didzis Grodzs


RIBOCA, Alexis Blake performance, Allegory of the Painted Woman. Photo by Juris Rozenbergs


Significantly, of the 113 works on show, 49 are new commissions. Almost a third of the participating artists are from the Baltic countries, while almost 70% of the total is from the Baltic region (including Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany). The rest of the artists come from countries as diverse as Korea, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, and South Africa, as well as Russia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece and Bulgaria.

During the biennial, this 113 works will be shown in nine different venues across Riga. There will also be 10 public sculptures and site-specific interventions in various locations around the city. Many of the participating artists will present more than one work, appearing in several of the venues, thus providing an opportunity for visitors to gain a more in-depth insight into their practice. Drawing on Latvia’s rich architectural heritage, the biennial is spread across eight main sites, including the former Faculty of Biology and Bolshevichka textile factory. Despite its ambitious scope, the biennial feels manageable and coherent, in part thanks to Gregos’s creation of a route divided by thematic chapters. The route ends at the modernist Dulbuti railway station with The Sensorium: A Laboratory for the Deceleration of Time and a New Politics of the Senses, curated by Solvej Helweg Ovesen.


RIBOCA, Reception at Zuzeum, Photo by Pēteris Vīksna


The title, Everything Was Forever, Until it Was No More, is borrowed from Alexei Yurchak’s book of the same name. Yurchak discusses the collapse of the Soviet Union and one particular characteristic that defined it: the sense that although the Soviet system was felt to be permanent and immutable, its demise was at the same time perceived as completely natural. The shock of being thrust into a new order came only later. The title of his book suggests the slippery nature of change, that what may seem eternal can suddenly come to an end. For more information clik here RIBOCA.


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