…and a giant monkey in a space suit.
It’s the weekend, our friends Kate and Abby are here from California, and it’s time to hit the road for a mini-getaway to Cēsis for the opening night of their summer arts festival! Cēsis — “one of the few towns you can experience the true spirit of Latvia” according to the someone at the Latvian tourist board — is known for its medieval castle but it’s also situated beside the Gauja River, the only major river in the country that begins and ends in Latvia. Our friend and SWS: Riga participant Jānis Putniņš has curated a beautiful program of river films beginning with tonight’s perfect offering, the 1934 documentary Gauja directed by Kristaps Linde. A walk through the woods and down the hill to the sandy shore, a trip on a makeshift ferry across the calm waters (complete with a rare beaver spotting!), a xylophone concert, a shot of black balsam and finally the charming film projected on floating screen. At midnight, sky glowing deep blue, it’s back to the city and our beds overlooking a deserted town square… We are living a cinematic dream…
A beautiful eco-processing workshop and workshare screening with our kindred spirits at Baltic Analog Lab. Move over, Caffenol! Our Flower Power developer produced some mighty fine images on our secret stash of HiCon film but the superstar special ingredient might have been an ancient beet, found in the depths of one of the participant’s refrigerator! Three cheers for artist run lab spaces and the wonderful people who keep ’em happening!
SWS:Riga production time and it’s the first quiet moment in days to catch you up on who’s shooting when and where. This time around all 24 of our participants are artists with dynamic practices, visionary minds and a sense of adventure. What a treat to see this city through their eyes!
Sergejs Timofejevs (poet, writer) rode the train. Agnese Krivade (poet, writer) celebrated anti-squat art space D27. Pauls Bankovskis (writer) captured the quiet life down by the river. Kristiāns Brekte (mixed- media artist) set things on fire. Signe Birkova (filmmaker) zoomed at the zoo. Evelīna Ozola (architect, urbanist) went underground. Maija Kurševa (artist, publisher) looked at gallery life. Jānis Putniņš (avant-garde filmmaker) played with time. Ansis Starks (art and architecture photographer) went for a ride. Rolands Pēterkops (art fashion and costume designer) looked at lines and frames. Karlīna Vītoliņa (photographer) struck the pose. Aigars Bikše (artist, sculptor) transformed into a rabbit. Odrija Fišere (writer, journalist) celebrated market mayhem. Gunārs Binde (photographer) followed the woman in black. Andris Freibergs (stage designer) brought down the Iron Curtain. Viesturs Meikšāns (theater director) went Soviet sci-fi. Atis Jākobsons (artist) veiled the ladies at dawn. Mārtiņš Grauds (film director) caught the world coming down.
That’s 18 in the can and 6 to go, folks!
In addition to the amazing Arterritory, another key organization for The Sound We See: Riga is Baltic Analog Lab, an exciting new artist-run space where we’ll be working with the participants to process their film. A super special giant thanks to Ieva Balode and Lāsma Bērtule for welcoming us with open arms and working so hard to get BAL’s new home ready for action. The SWS Intro to Handprocessing Workshop was a female affair with Lāsma & Lisa mixing the chemistry and Agnese, Odrija, Maija, Anda and Ieva in the house for the developing of yesterday’s test footage. It turned out GREAT, despite being dropped on the ground once…or twice! Good work, team!
The weather in Riga really keeps you on your toes. One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s pouring rain, then rainy AND sunny, then clouds are racing across the sky and here comes thunder and lightning! The forecast changes every ten minutes. So it’s no surprise that we were dodging raindrops during both our morning and afternoon practice shoots but that didn’t stop some serious shenanigans from going down. Pray for sun!
Two very exciting things happened today:
Sleepy Sunday; the perfect day to settle into our delightful new digs (thank you, Martins!) and check out the immediate neighborhood. Our street dead ends into The Great Cemetery, the burial place of choice for Riga’s Baltic Germans and intellectual community since 1773. Extensive damage was done during the Soviet occupation of Latvia post 1945 and many of the headstones were removed and destroyed. But some remained, even after the Cemetery was turned into a park. Today, it’s green and a bit ghostly with a few people and pets moving quietly along the paths through the trees…
One of our favorite places in any city is the public library. But the Riga library isn’t just any old library, it’s the NATIONAL LIBRARY OF LATVIA aka The Castle of Light! Of course there’s all the regular library stuff but there’s also dozens of people getting wedding photos taken, there’s about a million art exhibits (pre-Euro Latvian coins featuring mushrooms, woodcuts featuring mushrooms, stamps featuring mushrooms…), there’s an old movie about how awesome libraries and bookstores are, there are plants and amazing views from every window, there’s a swanky cafe, there are color-coded chairs on each floor, and there is a stunningly sumptuous wall of books that Latvians donated and brought to the library in a crazy outdoor human chain in 2014 when it opened. Who cares if it’s raining and 60 degrees in July? We’ve got The Castle of Light!