A new biennial for the Baltics and Nordic region: RIBOCA
(Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art)
‘EVERYTHING WAS FOREVER UNTIL IT WAS NO MORE’
2 June – 8 October 2018
The inaugural edition of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA) entitled ‘Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More’, a major biannual event in Latvia, will launch on 2 June 2018 and is curated by Katerina Gregos.
With a European focus and a strong regional profile, RIBOCA is conceived as a dynamic new site of artistic experimentation and knowledge production which will offer a barometer of current social, political and economic issues filtered through artistic practices. RIBOCA will create new opportunities for leading international and regional artists to engage with the rich cultural, historical and socio-political context of Riga, Latvia and its geographic surrounds. The biennial will be manifested at various points throughout the city, with a full programme and locations to be announced.
Taking into account criticisms of the proliferation of biennial culture, or ‘biennialisation’ as it has been called, RIBOCA aims to create a sustainable model based on best practices that prioritise artists, artistic production and the meticulous presentation and mediation of art. The Biennial is based on a working process that starts from the local, expanding to the national and the regional, and finally to the transnational. The Biennial aims to take root and make roots in the place where it is situated.
RIBOCA is major initiative of the Riga Biennial Foundation, its commissioning body. Founder and Director of the Riga Biennial Foundation Agniya Mirgorodskaya developed RIBOCA as new global platform for international and Baltic artists to promote contemporary art and provide educational and community support within the region, and to increase artistic engagement between the Baltic region and the rest of the world. A significant proportion of the commissioned and selected artists either live, work or were born in the Baltic region, a territory which still remains relatively unexplored despite its prolific artistic production.
The first edition, curated by globally recognised curator Katerina Gregos, will reflect on the phenomenon of change – how it is anticipated, experienced, grasped, assimilated and dealt with at this time of accelerated transitions. 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; the fact that what might seem eternal can suddenly come to an end. He calls this a case of ‘fast-forwarded history’. The title of Yurchak’s book resonates in the entire post-Soviet sphere, the Baltic states included; but it can also be seen as a potent metaphor for our own era.
RIBOCA is a major initiative of the Riga Biennial Foundation, its commissioning body. The founder and director of the Riga Biennial Foundation Agniya Mirgorodskaya established RIBOCA as a new global platform for international and Baltic artists to promote contemporary art and provide educational and community support within the region, and to increase artistic engagement between the Baltic region and the rest of the world. For each edition of the biennial, a significant proportion of the commissioned and participating artists were born in, or live and work in, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, a territory which still remains relatively unexplored despite its prolific artistic production. A key element of RIBOCA’s mission is to create a sustainable biennial model based on best practices that prioritize artists, artistic production and the meticulous presentation and mediation of art. A large number of the works to be presented will be new commissions, made especially for the biennial.
Katrīna Neiburga, Pickled long cucumbers, 2017, Two-channel video, colour, sound, 11’ 44’’, Courtesy of the artist