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Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, announces the main venues for its inaugural edition
Interior of Bolshevichka textile factory, Riga, Photo Ansis Starks, Courtesy of RIBOCA.

RIGA.- The Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art announced the six main venues in Riga, which will host the inaugural edition of the biennial and its related public programme and events. The majority of these spaces are within 20 minutes walking distance of each other, creating a sustainable parcours and allowing visitors the time to experience the exhibition and the artists, as well as to discover the city. Entitled ‘Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More’, RIBOCA is a major new biennial initiative in Riga, Latvia, launching on 2 June 2018. The chief curator is Katerina Gregos, who has been responsible for setting up the biennial together with its founder and commissioner Agniya Mirgorodskaya.

The selected venues reflect Riga’s diverse cultural and architectural history: from medieval and 19th century traditional wooden buildings and pre-war Art Nouveau; to Soviet modernism and impressive industrial architecture. The spaces not only serve as an aesthetically captivating frame for the concept of the biennial and its artworks but are also an integral part of the broader cultural and historical narrative of the city of Riga and the wider Baltic region.

The main venue of the biennial - former Faculty of Biology, University of Latvia
This former biological faculty, built in 1898 by architect Johanness Kohs in the NeoRenaissance style, will serve as the primary venue for RIBOCA1. Located in the centre of Riga, between the Old Riga and Art Nouveau districts, it is an architectural ensemble developed in the second half of the 19th century, following the taking down of the walls of the old town. It was one of the USSR’s premier research institutes and housed laboratories for chemistry, physics, mineralogy, geology, zoology and botany. Three of these laboratories have been turned into museums and will be used by the biennial. The venue will also host a part of the biennial’s public programme, with talks, lectures and performances by artists, cultural practitioners, and leading international thinkers.

Zuzeum is an art centre founded by the Zuzans family, prominent patrons and art collectors in Latvia. A former cork factory, designed and engineered in 1910 by Edmund von Trompovskis, the building is located in Riga’s historical centre, the yellow brick building is a distinguished example of the industrial architecture of the time, and is UNESCO protected territory.

Located within the former territory of an industrial port, next to the city centre, the Andrejsala area is evolving into an urban culture and art district. RIBOCA1 will utilise a boat as a distinctive floating venue, as well as warehouse spaces in the surrounding area as outdoor settings for large-scale, site-specific installations.

Residence of Kristaps Morbergs
The apartment of Kristaps Morbergs (1844-1928), one of the most notable Latvian contractors and patrons of the early twentieth century, will also function as a venue. Located centrally, on the Riga Boulevard circle and offering a direct view onto Freedom Monument Square - one of Riga’s most iconic and historically significant locations - the apartment still maintains its pre-war interiors with authentic parquet floor, ceiling ornaments, stained glass windows, a tile furnace and the first shower cabin in Riga with polychrome-glazed tiles. Morbergs’ aim was to help his nation strive mentally and ethically, thus he bestowed all his property, including this apartment, to the University of Latvia following his death.

The former Bolshevichka textile factory
Situated a short distance from Riga’s city centre is the former textile factory Bolshevichka – a complex of industrial buildings. Opened in 1913, the factory was built as a highquality footwear manufacturer using leather from American bison. During World War I the factory was turned into a military hospital and workshops, producing goods for the Front. Later in 1941, it became a spinning mill and weaving workshop and was renamed ‘Bolshevichka’, only to cease existence in the 1990s when production came to a standstill and the building was left empty. During the biennial, the factory’s spacious former canteen will be brought back to life as an exhibition space.

In addition, the studio space of the well-known Latvian artist Andris Eglītis, which is also situated on the factory grounds, will be used as a venue. The hangar also serves as space for exhibitions and events, instigated by the artist.

Art Station Dubulti
Designed by Igors Javeins, the architect of more than a hundred train stations around the USSR, and built in 1977, Dubulti train station is a distinct example of Soviet modernist architecture. Located in the sea resort city of Jurmala, a short drive from Riga, Uniquely, Dubulti is simultaneously an active exhibition space (founded in 2015 by Inga Steimane, the curator of the Latvian national pavilion at 57th Venice Biennale) and a functioning train station; The works shown in this venue will make use not only of the exhibition space but also the surrounding woodland and beach.

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