Riga 2014 Spring Events
Winters in the Baltic region can be tough and long, but the good news is that spring eventually will come. No exception this year either; the past few days Riga had temperatures close to the twenties, spring is definitely in the air. With the arrival of the spring we’re also planning our trip to the Latvian capital. We will be there in just over two weeks’ time to check out in person how the European Capital of Culture is being celebrated. An exciting moment for us, especially since this will be the first time we visit any of the Baltic states and there’s plenty to look forward to, given what an exciting year this is for the city.
Riga in general is a capital with lots on offer: being one of the oldest cities of the entire region it has a rich history to lean back on and it is also considered as the most important place to see art nouveau architecture in the world. While a large part of the city centre is made up of art nouveau buildings from around the end of the 19th century, Riga is also famous for its medieval old town. Thus, all in all, it feels like we’ll be busy and we already look forward to all the great photo opportunities awaiting us. There will also be plenty of chances to dive into the Riga 2014 spring events put together by the organisation committee.
Riga 2014 is going under the campaign name ‘Force Majeur’, a clear indication that the event is not taken upon lightly. For us it wasn’t a co-incidence planning our trip around May. By simply going through the event calendar you can see it’s a jam-packed month to look forward to, with many of the big visual art events for the year opening during these days. Here’s a quick selection of what we have our eyes on in the first place. Those interested can of course also check out the entire art agenda we put together for the year.
Visual art Highlights – Spring 2014
- One of the biggest Latvian names ever in the art world is Vija Cemins. The New York-based artist is returning to her country of birth to put on a solo exhibition entitled “Double Reality”, a reference to her efforts to create a different reality and not just what we see. ‘Double Reality’ is on at the ‘Riga Bourse‘ from the 12th of April to the 22nd of June and you can read more about it on the Riga2014 blog.
- May is also “Riga Photo Month 2014″. The main event is named ‘Urban Viewfinder‘ and is focusing on the individuals’ search for an own identity in the urban jungle we are a part of. The exhibition is featuring fifteen photographers from the Baltic region and Scandinavia. ‘Urban Viewfinder’ is on at the ‘Riga Art Space‘ from the 8th of May to the 22nd of June. The photo month also includes a competition that has been open for the general public, entitled iRiga.
- “Cinematic Trophies” focuses on the post World War II movie industry in the occupied Latvia and is a project focusing on the historic restrictions imposed by the oppressive Soviet regime, but also on how movie-goers found a place in that restricted world through movies. The exhibition is on at the ‘Riga Film Museum‘ until the 12th of September.
- Talking of Soviet history. There’s a famous building in Riga – for all the wrong reasons -: the old KGB headquarters. Now for this year a multi-disciplinary exhibition is staged here, where part of the exhibition is to highlight the historic events, while a big part of the space is handed over to artists from different fields. Intriguing? Yes, we think there can be some surprises. “Culture Reinvents Former KGB Building” will start this week on April 30th and will be on all the way until the end of October at the ‘Corner House‘ on Brīvības Street 61.
- Street art is growing in popularity worldwide, as in Riga, where it is also part of the official program. The street art festival, entitled “Blank Canvas”, is open to the general public and takes place at multiple locations across the city centre and is a provocative idea, playing with the myth and reality of street art, even when considered as vandalism. The event is on right when we’re in town: May 13th to 17th.
- Amber is the national Latvian symbol and it will take up a big part of the year’s program, with multiple events taking place along the so-called ‘Amber Vein’. There are exhibitions in multiple disciplines and one of the biggest will start on May 23rd: “Amber in Contemporary Designer Jewelry”. This exhibition takes place in the ‘Putti Art Gallery‘ and is on until August 2nd.
More than “just” Visual Arts
Naturally, Riga 2014 is more than just visual arts, and while that’s our focus as “art weekenders” we are certainly just as curious about other events. Here are some of the other highlights that we found of interest for the coming months.
- Amber is coming back in many other parts of the Riga2014 “Force Majeur”. One of the biggest exhibitions of the year and with the clearest national link is the historical exhibition entitled “Amber – the precious stone of the Baltic Sea” at the ‘National History Museum’. This exhibition highlights the importance of this precious material for the nation and is on from May 14th until December 31st.
- May 18th is the day of the Riga Marathon. Interestingly, there will also be a so-called cultural kilometre under the name “Freedom Run“, with musical and other performances, entertainment and many other happenings. Let’s just hope the runners can concentrate on the running instead of joining in the party.
- “Is Riga Complete?” is the title of a design festival that will take place at the ‘Latvian Academy of Art‘ with a focus on what has changed and what is changing in the Latvian capital, especially from a youth perspective. This exhibition is on from the 29th of May until the 29th of June.
- Classical music plays a big part in the year’s events. On May 25th it’s time for a Johan Sebastian Bach day: “Organ music under the aegis of BACH”. This is an integrated series of collaborative concerts that will take place at the Rīga Dome Cathedraland and two other churches.
Thus, we certainly think that our visit will be a busy one. Maybe it’s a destination for you as well, especially in a year like this? We’ll certainly report back from our stay, where we likely will focus quite a bit on the visual aspect of the city and of the Riga2014 spring events. For the art fans, again, please check out our entire guide for the year, but also please have a look at the Riga2014.org extensive website.
READ MORE: European Capitals of Culture 2014