On Monday, May 24, the annual photography festival Riga Photomonth will start, this time its theme is “Life after Covid?”.
“Although we are still living in the Covid era, it is clear that this is an important turning point in civilization that will change our habits, perceptions, values and other daily routines. Some call this time an interesting challenge, others – the crisis of Western ideology. In any case, this year has brought both global turmoil – wars, disasters, protests, as well as individual – apathy, depression, creative influxes. In this Riga Photomonth, we want to look back at how these changes have affected photographers and artists, as well as start asking the question of what life might be like in the next stage, ” Riga Photomonth director Arnis Balcus outlines the festival’s focus.
Riga Photomonth will start with three exhibitions in the public space. An exhibition of international artists “Life after Covid?” will feature 14 artists from different European countries. The works will inhabit poster stands, advertising spaces, walls and shop windows on Avotu Street in Riga. Ania Ready, a UK based Polish artist, in her collages “Brave New World” juxtaposes images from the Western lockdown realities with the archival photographs from the Eastern Bloc. The installation “Great Success” by Latvian artist Pēteris Ķimsis – a car with a huge bird droppings – metaphorically depicts the current situation, where the car symbolizes moving forward, but the shit – one perceives it as luck and another as a bad sign. Russian photographer Sergei Stroitelev’s series “Inner Cat” invites you to learn from cats how to keep peace in a crisis situation, but Latvian photographer Katrīna Ģelze in her work talks about everyone’s rights and freedom to love. On May 25 at 6.30pm (GMT+3) on the Riga Photomonth website (rigasfotomenesis.lv) and Facebook page (facebook.com/RigaPhotomonth) there will be a tour of the exhibition with an urban researcher, tourism critic, blogger and LTV personality Mārtiņš Eņģelis.
From May 25, Janis Rozentāls Square next to the Latvian National Museum of Art will host an object dedicated to the Belarusian protests “The Square of Changes” – a model of a transformer hut, which was originally located in one of Minsk’s courtyards and became an important symbol of Belarusian struggle for their rights. The transformer hut will be covered with photographs by photojournalist Yauhen Attsetski, documenting the events in this courtyard for 8 months. In the context of this exhibition, on May 26 at 7pm online discussion “Between journalism and activism. How do photographers work in Belarus? ” will be held, where Attsetski will talk with a Belarusian civic activist and photo editor Julia Volchok. On June 14 at 7pm there will be a discussion “Game without rules. Photojournalist’s work in Belarus ”, where photojournalists Irina Arakhovskaya and Dmitry Brushko will discuss the difficult conditions for journalists in Belarus. Both talks will be held in Russian.
Filips Šmits’ exhibition “Post no bills” will be located on the fence at Miera Street 41 near the bar “Walters and Grapa”. With these works, last year’s winner of the FK Magazine’s prize as the best young Latvian photographer, invites you to experience the Brooklyn area of New York. While working in the environment, a unique dialogue is created between the urban landscape of New York and Riga.
Various online talks and discussions will also take place within the festival. On May 31 at at 8 pm (GMT+3), there will be a discussion “Photographers in the age of catastrophe”, where Karolina Gembara, the creator of the Polish Public Protests Archive, will talk to Tanvi Mishra (Caravan Magazine, India), Nina Berman (Noor Images, USA) and Shiraz Grinbaum (Activestills collective, Israel). During the discussion they will look at the nature of different visual practises in the context of everyday catastrophes. Remembering Jo Spence’s words about photographers being always immersed in politics, they’ll reflect on their changing role in today’s world.
On June 8 at 7pm photographer and journalist Elīna Ruka will talk to Anna Niskanen (Finland), Ania Ready (UK/Poland) and Leticia Zica (France) on the subject “(Un)natural”. As artists, as human beings, as women? How much are they related to how we think, act and make? This talk is an invitation to think about freedom, choices, constraints, emotions, and the experiences of being an artist during this time.
In the course of the festival, performances and exhibitions of other Latvian authors – Ance Vilnīte, Linards Āboltiņš, Aivars Liepiņš, Ieva Raudsepa, Māris Priedītis, Iveta Gabaliņa, Miķelis Mūrnieks and in person and online will take place, as well as a photo book event “Self Publish Riga” at ISSP Gallery. The festival will run until July 4. Due to unpredictable epidemiological constraints, the festival program will change and more events will be added over time. The festival program and more information are available on the Riga Photomonth website – rigaphotomonth.com
The main photo festival in Latvia – Riga Photomonth has been taking place since 2014, it is supported by the Riga City Council, the State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia.