#1 | #2 | IFFR#33 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 Munchen | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 The Interviews | #11 | #12 Berlin | #13 Dresden | #14 | #15 | #16 Copenhagen | #17 IFFR | #18 Riga | #19 Conceptual Art | #20 The Swiss Issue | #21 Aktie! | #22 Rotterdam Art Map 1.0 | #23 Bruxelles | #24 Maasvlakte 2 | #25 Douala | #26 Rotterdam Art Map 2.0 | #27 Tbilisi | #28 Budget Cuts NL | #29 Italian Issue | #30 Rotterdam Art Map 3.0 | #31 It’s Playtime | #32 | #33 Rotterdam Art Map 4.0 | #34 Arnhem Art Map | #35 Existentialism | #36 Pascal Gielen | #37 The Swiss Issue revisited | Copyright |
Linards Kulles from Singalong, an artist collective in the harbour area Andrejsala of Riga.
Linards is one of the people living in Singalong, an art hotel with a residency in Andrejsala, Riga’s harbour area. Rem Koolhaas’ office OMA was commissioned by the Latvian Government to masterplan Riga’s port area one of the last remaining undeveloped dockland areas in Europe. This means that Singalong and the other small cultural enterprises on Andrejsala will have to go, not now, but in one or two years.
Than we go by car to see the ‘Slominsky’ sculpture as Linards calls it a 10-year-old tree growing through the window of a car door. He found it next to the power plant and wants it to be part of the collection of the museum of contemporary art.
Part 2: What happened to contemporary art after 1989?
Martins Strautnieks a.k.a Martinez Gonzalez arranged an audio walk through the abandoned power plant with a friend Maksims Sentejevs, architect and sound artist from Riga. Since 1998 Maksims has participated in town-planning and media-art workshops throughout the Baltic States. Since 2003 he has published sound works. The power plant will be transformed into a museum for contemporary art designed by Rem Koolhaas (OMA). Our guide was Valery, who worked in the building for thirty years. He takes us up onto the roof for a spectacular view of the harbour.
Then down to the turbine hall. Here we meet up with John Grzinich and a group of friends of Maksims. They are recording a sound piece for ‘Riga Sound Locations’ by playing the turbine with mallets, sticks, metal, a violin bow etc. At the end of the audio walk we recorded a rehearsal.
Soundpiece by John Grzinich and the group 12:33 min.^
K@2 is a NGO artist collective in Karosta with a gallery for temporary art, a hostel, a residency program, film program, media lab, a school, cafe and much more.
Contradictions 17:26 min.
Karosta is a military harbour that was closed off during the Soviet period and finally abandoned by the Russian army in 1994. Some Russians stayed and some Latvians who couldn't afford housing in the centre of Liepaja moved in. There is a huge cathedral and there are grand houses and utility buildings from the time of the tsars and cheaply built twentieth-century housing blocks, all on a generous grid of streets with broad pavements between large trees and lawns. Diagonal elephant paths show the more practical routes through the area. Groups of children playing and the cats mostly ginger that lay around in the grass complete the impression of a lazy everlasting summer by the sea. Almost all the buildings except the Russian Orthodox cathedral are in a state of decay and the streets are clean and empty. No rubbish here, no traffic signs on the street, no poles and no lights. Most of wich caused by extreme poverty and desertion.
In 1997 artists and filmmakers including Kristine Briede and Carl Biorsmark came here for a project (borderlines) and decided to stay. Despite their expectations they were not followed by more artists wishing to build a community here. For the last seven years they have used some of the older buildings for art projects, a day-care programme for local children, a hostel, open-source computer projects, a mediatheque, cafe, gallery, weekly cinema, bike-rental all in cooperation with the local community. One of the porter’s houses is now being renovated and turned into a dual residency for a writer and a critic. The other one has been turned in to a huge camera obscura by an artist
Audio walk part 2 16:09 min.
Audio walk part 3 12:40 min.
Kristine Briede shows us the other buildings, the mediatheque and the gallery and we sleep in the hostel, which is now being renovated for the second time. Although the summers are warm and long, the extremely cold and damp winters aggressively eat away at the unheated building.
On Saturday 11 August the gallerist Ludmilla gave us a tour through this year’s big project the ‘mushroom house’ built by the French architectural practice EXYZT on the ruins of one of the big U-shaped tsarist buildings.
Presumption of innocence part 1 51:27 min.
Presumption of innocence part 2 34:32 min.
Recorded at K@2, an artist colony and residency in Karosta on site of an old Russian navy base near Liepaja. The Swedish documentary filmer and artist Carl Biorsmark researched the story of Herberts Cukurs for years and made the exhibition “The Presumption of Innocence” in june 2005 in the gallery space of K@2. In 2000 Carl noticed a book in the window of a bookshop in Liepaja called “The Execution of the Hangman of Riga”, written by the former Mossad agent Anton Kunzle who killed Cukurs. This is the start of his search for the truth behind the Latvian national hero and acclaimed aviation pionier Herberts Cukurs. In 1941 Cukurs joined the German Arajs Commando, a sqaud with the explicit intention to murder all latvian Jews. They are responsible for the killing of 30.000 innocent Jews. After the war Herberts Cukurs escaped to São Paulo, where he was later killed on 23 of February 1965 in Uruguay by the Mossad, the Israeli secret service. In their attempt to uncover the facts of Cukurs’ life and the reasons for the secrecy around his death they ended up being the next chapter in this tale that has touched on so many sensitive issues.^
RIXC center for media art is housed in the building of the Artist Union Riga (artist organization from Soviet times with thousand members). RIXC started as e-lab in 1996 with web based projects simply because in the middle of the 90s there was no alternative. And even today there are not so many alternative art spaces. Their trusty local network includes K@2 and Serde. The first project was the Art+Communication festival. This festival is held every year. The 2nd project was internet radio. The reason for this project was the discomfort with the art scene established by the Soros Foundation. An alternative beyond was needed. RIXC was founded in 2000. In 2004 they organized Acoustic Space Lab, a multi-media research of the Virac radio telescope a 32 meter dish antenna in Irbine, Latvia. The Irbine antenna is a top secret Soviet-era military object.
In the beginning of the 90s culture was implemented in former east-countries by George Soros, a born Hungarian invester who moved to the USA in the 50s. In 1979 Soros establishes the first Open Society Foundation, in the USA. The first Foundation in Eastern Europe is established in 1984 in Hungary. Presently similar Foundations are active in more than 30 countries.^
From our series of 17 FGA-posters for the exhibition Matilde, organized by the curators of Basel-based project space Showroom, Egija Inzule and Tobias Kaspar.
On-Air Fucking Good Art Radio from Riga
"Latvians always will reach upwards"
These words by JF Kennedy are engraved in a bronze shield mounted on a house where he stayed on the corner of Hanzas Iela and Valkas Iela, when he was on his student summer holidays journey to Riga.
Participants exhibition Matilde:
Foto Buda, Riga
Fucking Good Art
Links in the text:
Culture Capital Foundation
Department of Culture of the Riga City Council
EXYZT architect group
Freeport of Riga Authority
Herberts Cukurs 1
Herberts Cukurs 2
Herberts Cukurs 3
Jaurigas attistibas Uznemums
Riga Sound Locations
List of artist-run spaces and cultural NGO's
(non governemental organisations)
Riga / Karosta / Aizpute:
Fuck for Friendship
Subversian in Riga
European Cultural Backbone
The Artists' Union
Lauska / Culture Management Centre
MMIC / art management and information center
LMA / Visual Communication Department & MFA Program of Latvian Academy of Arts
XCHANGE / International net.audio network
NICE / Network Interface for Cultural Exchange in the region of North-East Europe
Artists Network Database