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Krišs Salmanis, Anna Salmane. Photo: Kristīne Madjare

Winners of the 2017 Purvītis Prize: Anna Salmane, Krišs Salmanis and Kristaps Pētersons 0

We congratulate the winners of the 2017 Purvītis Prize – Anna Salmane, Krišs Salmanis and Kristaps Pētersons – for their exhibition “Dziesma” (“Song”), which was held in 2015 at the Creative Workshop of the LNMA’s “Arsenāls” exhibition hall. 

Photo: Kristīne Madjare

When the group work “Song” was included on the Purvītis Prize list of nominees for the second quarter of 2015, Elita Ansone, a representative from the Prize’s panel of experts, explained the endorsement so: “Having statistically analyzed the lyrics of the songs sung at the final concert of all Latvian Song Festivals held from 1990 to 2013, the artists have concluded that the most often used words in these songs was “sun”, then “daughter”, and in third place – “God”. They have titled their exhibition “God”, and Kristaps Pētersons has created the collage “Dievzemīte I” (“Land of God I”) from 184 audio clips of songs. In the exhibition, this composition made from Song Festival recordings is played. Although the result is not melodic, but cacophonic, the sounds do, nevertheless, elicit the same exalted emotions as the Song Festival does.” Philosopher Jānis Taurens has said of the exhibition: “An excellent interdisciplinary artwork that could just as well be nominated for a musical award.”

Photo: Kristīne Madjare

“When we came up with the idea for this artwork, we thought that our analysis would show that the most used words are quite sorrowful, but it actually wasn’t that bad. When you look at it rationally, all of those words speak about an ancient past, or even mystical times in which no one has ever lived. We don’t live like that. We perceive the Song Festival emotionally, without really listening to the lyrics...but perhaps we should. It seems that we should be creating new songs, with new words that speak about what is going on today, and what we are capable of now,” Anna Salmane revealed in an earlier interview with Arterritory.


The Purvītis Prize is the largest monetary award in the visual arts in both Latvia and the Baltic region as a whole. It is awarded once every two years to an artist or artist group that represents Latvia with excellent work – creations that are deeply linked to the current zeitgeist and which have a direct connection with spiritual ideals, absolute values, and our lives at that moment. The artist who receives the highest score – as evaluated by a joint group of experts and an international panel of judges – is deemed the winner, and receives an award in the amount of 28 500 EUR.

The members of the international panel of judges who decided on the winner of the 2017 Purvītis Prize were: Māra Lāce, Director of the LNMA; Jānis Zuzāns, Chairman of the Board of “Alfor” Ltd., the main financial supporter of the LNMA; Thaddaeuss Ropac, the renown Austrian gallerist and art collector (Galerie Thaddaeuss Ropac, Paris/Salzburg/London); Juliet Bingham (UK), Tate Modern museum curator; and Hedwig Fijen (Netherlands), founding director of the Manifesta biennial and the International Foundation Manifesta; Rebecca Russo (Italy), art collector and creator of the Videoinsight® method of psychotherapy; and Mark Allen Svede (USA), art historian and professor at Ohio University.

The group exhibition featuring the works of all of this year’s finalists – Arturs Bērziņš, Ivars Drulle, Kristaps Epners, Atis Jākobsons, Voldemārs Johansons, Maija Kurševa, Anda Lāce, and Krišs Salmanis together with Anna Salmane and Kristaps Pētersons – will be on view in the Great Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art through 9 April. 

VIDEO ARCHIVE: Find out more about each of the nominees – their thoughts and the journeys that they take as they work on their creations