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Joseph Brodsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov Photo courtesy of

What’s going on in Riga’s cultural scene from September to the end of the year? 0

- Exhibition: “Le Cambrioleur / Kramplauzis/ The Robber” -
Riga Art Space
Through November 20, 2015

At Riga Art Space, September has begun with the largest-ever exhibition of French contemporary art in Latvia. It features the works of 56 artists created from 1998 onwards, and sourced from six private collections in France. The owners of these private collections are members of ADIAF, an association of private collectors dedicated to raising the profile of French contemporary art, and the co-creators (along with the Centre Pompidou) of the Marcel Duchamp Prize in the year 2000.

Read in Archives: An interview with Gilles Fuchs, art collector and president of ADIAF

The Duchamp Prize, awarded yearly to one of four nominated French or residing-in-France visual artists, has become one of the most prestigious contemporary art awards and has gained international recognition.

- Riga International Film Festival “2 Annas” -
“Splendid Palace”, “K. Suns”, “Kino Bize” cinemas, and KKC
September 22-27, 2015

Publicity photo for the festival “2 Annas”

Screening more than 100 films for both competitive and thematic purposes, including short films in various genres (drama, animation, experimental, documentary) and feature-length films made in the Baltics, the program for the “2 Annas” film festival looks abundantly promising. The short film list includes Morgan Knibbe's documentary Shipwreck, on the acutely topical theme of refugees (and a nominee for the European Film Awards); Annelie Boros' documentary Mars Closer, about the possibility of traveling to our closest planetary neighbor (and which features the Latvian Pauls Irbiņš); and the clever animated film Slaves of the Rave by William Garratt, an award winner at the Tampere Film Festival.

Two Latvian-made films have made it into the competition's final – Laila Pakalniņš's Candies, and Reinis Spaile's Rhythms of the Empty Land – both of which will see their premiers at the Festival. Also scheduled is a showing of a work by Edmunds Jansons, Jurģis Krāsons, Staņislavs Tokalovs and Lizete Murovska. And as always, “2 Annas” is a wonderful opportunity to see the latest films coming out of Lithuania and Estonia.

- Autumn Chamber Music Festival -
Through October 16, 2015

The Autumn Chamber Music Festival offers fine chamber music executed by world-famous musicians in several cities throughout Latvia – from Viennese classics and meditative piano pieces to chamber music by Latvian composers and premier performances.

On September 18, one of the world's leading string quartets, Spain's Cuarteto Casals, will open the Festival with a concert at the Dzintari Concert Hall featuring the music of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Schubert.

A highly special festival event will be the concert on September 26, at the Riga Dome Cathedral, featuring music from Arvo Pert's Grammy-winning album Adam's Lament. Performing the concert will be the Latvian Radio Choir, Sinfonietta Rīga, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Vox Clamantis, and soloists conducted by Tenu Kaljuste.

On October 7, at the Art Museum Riga Bourse, pianist Juris Žvikovs will present a cycle of intriguing sonatas and interludes by American conceptualist John Cage. Repeat performances will take place on October 12, at the Staņislavs Broks School of Music in Daugavpils, and on October 14, at the Ventspils Cultural Center.

- “Lielāks miers, mazāks miers” / “Greater Peace, Lesser Peace” -
Latvian Railway Museum
October 7 – November 15, 2015

A scene from a video work by Krišs Salmanis, for the exhibition “Greater Peace, Lesser Peace”

As part of the arts program Tête-à-tête 2015 in Riga, the Latvian Railway Museum will host the contemporary art exhibition “Greater Peace, Lesser Peace”, as curated by Helēna Demakova. Artists working in various media will be presenting their newest works, having been invited to “reference individual, identity-forming elements of consciousness that are related to the yearning for peace, as well as broader nature- and social-based movements that are more or less peace-creating or destructive.” Thinking about the various aspects of peace – by alluding to such themes as harmony and clarity, various metaphors for peace, peace in conjunction with unrest, making peace with death, peace as our cultural ideal – will be the following artists:  Arturs Bērziņš, Aigars Bikše, Māra Brīvere, Krista and Reinis Dzudzilo, Barbara Gaile, Indriķis Ģelzis, Ieva Kaula, Ernests and Andrejs Kļaviņi, Maija Kurševa, Imants Lancmanis, Liene Mackus, Līga Marcinkeviča, Darja Meļņikova, Kaspars Podnieks, Mārtiņš Ratniks, Ieva Rubeze, Inta Ruka, Krišs Salmanis, Zane Tuča, Evita Vasiļjeva, Vilnis Vītoliņš, and Brigita Zelča-Aispure.

- The exhibition “Data Drift”, and the conference “Renewable Futures” -
October 8 – November 22, 2015

Publicity photo

Those of you who have been ardently awaiting the annual RIXC Art and Science Festival (previously called “Māksla + Komunikācija” / “Art + Communication”), should be aware that this year the New Media Culture Center has proposed the manifestation of a new post-media situation – the weaving together of information and communication technologies. Taking place at the kim? Contemporary Art Centre, the RIXC exhibition “Data Drift” will feature artists from more than eight different countries. Lev Manovich – one of the leading theoreticians in the new field of multimedia, art and digital culture – is a co-curator of the exhibition.

Joining the exhibition will be the conference series “Renewable Futures”, the goal of which is the creation of new fields of connection between traditionally isolated spheres: art and science; academic research and independent creative practices; and sustainable business and social participation in the 21st century. The first conference will take place in Riga, October 8-10, and will primarily focus on the transformation of art in potentially post-media situations, citing the opinions of several media researchers who have stated that, at the moment, there is no one single media dominating the practice of contemporary art – it would rather deal with critical thinking and “contemporariness”.

- Skaņu mežs / Sound Forest -
October 2, 9, 10, 2015

The Peter Brötzmann Octet. A track from the  album Machine Gun. 1968

One should definitely take note of the concerts by the electronic music artist Squarepusher, and by the free jazz veteran Peter Brötzmann, both taking place during the innovative music festival known as “Sound Forest 2015”.

When in the middle of the 1990s the record label Warp Records revolutionized the music and rave scenes with a heretofore unheard of mix of indie and electronic music, Squarepusher was one of the company's top three artists, along with Aphex Twin and the duet Autechre. Squarepusher was also the first to perform in the Baltics. Warp Records set itself apart from other electronic music labels of the time (which had become a flourishing enterprise) perhaps because, inspired by their former Sheffield musical tradition, they were able to present emotional and humanistic electronic music as opposed to the synthetic and techno visions dominant at the time.

Brötzmann's 1968 album Machine Gun is regarded as one of the most important recordings of the 1960s improvised music revolution. Ever since the release of the album, Brötzmann has determinedly continued to create music that is (if not aesthetically, then in terms of content) unpredictable, rebellious, and primordially aggressive. Over time, Brötzmann has “allowed for the intrusion” of lyrical elements in his music – nowadays he often uses melodic material as “punctuation” for his improvisations. The combination of these changes, and Brötzmann's unwavering interest in musical freedom and a robust sound, has resulted in music that unpredictably changes from rough and ruthless sound-storms to melancholic periods of respite.

Peter Brötzmann and his group – which includes Jason Adasiewicz on vibraphone, and the musical duo of Steve Noble and John Edwards (renown as one of the best rhythm sections in free jazz) – will perform at “Sound Forest” on October 9.

- Brodsky/Barishnikov -
Jaunais Rīgas teātris (New Riga Theatre)
From October 15, 2015

Joseph Brodsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov Photo courtesy of 

The meeting of Brodsky and Barishnikov on the stage of the New Riga Theatre will surely be remembered as a highlight of Latvian theatre history. Premiering on October 15, in this theatrical production created by director Alvis Hermanis, the legendary ballet dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov will interpret the poetry of Joseph Brodsky through text and movement.

Baryshnikov and Brodsky are connected to one another by both deep friendship and similar life stories. Both emigrated from the USSR in the 1970s: the Riga-born Baryshnikov defected to Canada, later moving to the US, where he became a ballet star extraordinaire; Russian-born Brodsky was expelled from the USSR in 1972, and settled down in the US. In his American career, Baryshnikov has danced with the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theater, and at the latter, eventually holding the post of artistic director of the institution. From 1990 to 2002 he was the director and head dancer of the contemporary dance troupe White Oak Dance Project, which he co-founded with choreographer Mark Morris. In 2005 Baryshnikov established the Baryshnikov Art Center (BAC), a creative home for artists from around the world.

Living in the USA, Brodsky continued to write poetry and lectured at colleges and universities. His first book of poetry to be translated into English came out in 1973. In 1987 Brodsky was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

- Riga International Film Festival - 
October 15-25, 2015

Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes' film Faces

Having had a successful start last year, this autumn the Riga International Film Festival will continue on its chosen path of presenting the world's latest films, films made in Latvia, a selection of Nordic films, Russian documentaries, and experimental and short films. One example is John Maclean's feature-length debut, the eccentric Western Slow West, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the independent Sundance Film Festival.

Another highlight is Louder Than Bombs, by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier; this third film of his explores the themes of memory and identity.

Parabellum, the debut feature-length film by Lukas Valenta Rinner, is an “anti-blockbuster”; the film takes us away from the epicenter of events, leaving the viewer in a state of uncertainty about the reasons for the approaching catastrophe. Nevertheless, it is absolutely riveting from the first scene to the last.

A gem from independent film history to be screened at the Riga International Film Festival is Faces, the 1968 work of legendary American filmmaker John Cassavetes. It is a collection of the director's strongest characteristics. Together with a group of colleagues and his wife, Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes made Faces over a span of three years, financing the whole thing out of pocket.

Chronicle of a Summer (1961), the documentary made by leftist intellectual Edgar Morine and anthropologist Jean Rouch, follows along with the daily lives of several Parisians over one summer. It is an intriguing look at an era in which the first hints at the coming student revolts of the 1960s can be sensed through the conversations of its subjects – on themes such as social inequality, war, the effects of colonialism, and immigration.