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“Survival Kit” Turns Spotlight on Formerly Prominent Places in Riga and Ways They Can be Used Today

20.08.2014

The contemporary art festival “Survival Kit 6” will run in Riga from September 4 to September 27 this year, when the festival is also part of the European Capital of Culture programme of Riga.

The festival will take place in Wagner’s Hall in Riga’s Old Town and in the former “Bolshevichka” textile plant at 30 Ganību dambis Street, featuring art exhibitions, lectures, performances, creative workshops and film screenings.

This year, the festival’s theme is “Utopian City”, which will be played upon in their works by over seventy participants from twenty-five countries.

For the first time, the festival’s events will also take place beyond Latvia, in the Swedish town of Umeå, the other 2014 European Capital of Culture besides Riga. There, “Survival Kit” events are organised by the gallery “Verkligheten”, contemporary art and visual culture museum “Bildmuseet”, organisation “Vita Kuben” and Umeå Academy of Art.

The former “Bolshevichka” textile plant is currently being considered as a possible site for a contemporary art museum. Wagner’s Hall, on the other hand, is a historic building with long-standing traditions – German composer and conductor Richard Wagner worked here in the 1830s – yet today the building is also empty and not being used in any way as there is not enough money for the reconstruction of the building and making it part of the cultural life in Riga again.

During the “Survival Kit” festival, a major contemporary art exhibition will open in the former textile plant, featuring artists from Latvia and other countries. The exhibition will also be on show in Wagner’s Hall.

The programme of the festival also includes the two-day international symposium “Urban Utopia: Art and Culture as a Tool for Exploring and Researching a City”, where international and local experts will analyse various aspects of urban environment and urban environment planning.

Also part of the “Survival Kit 6” festival will be audiovisual concert “datamatics [ver.2.0]” by Ryoji Ikeda, a Japanese artist who currently lives in Paris.

Throughout the festival, artistic performances, tours and lectures will be taking place in various locations in the city, plus there will be several creative workshops.

“Survival Kit” is an annual contemporary art festival that has been organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art since 2009, when it began as a reaction to the global economic crisis which forced the public to find new survival strategies and encouraged artists to discover new ways of existing. The festival’s strategy each year has been to highlight an area in Riga where there are empty buildings, linking this with the city’s development and urban planning trends and problems.