the latvian artists, who participate in re:public
done social art projects or participatory art before,
or was this suggested through this project now?
only few of them did such work before. several artists
used local and social contexts to produce their
work, but only in very rare cases they tried to
meet their audiences directly, involve them in some
way and create an interaction. one example is gints
gabrans' project starix, which tries to make
a homeless person famous through the appearance
in a variety of tv-programmes. the project is about
popular phantasies, that you could become a tv-star
and then all your problems are solved. these are
phantasies that arise from people in latvia being
desperate about the economic situation and the social
inequality. the project started in 2001, and it
is based on local research. the project was presented
- at different stages - in international exhibitions,
but the artist never went so far as to show it to
the local audience, to the people it really addresses.
now it was presented in a show and a video lecture
in a local cultural centre in a riga suburb.
up to now the majority of the audience was consisted
of the art crowd, and it is unfortunate that there
were not so many people from the area, although
we did a lot of advertisement and we distributed
posters around the area, and the moderator of the
show is quite famous in latvia. it is difficult
to reach this audience.
in general, there are
some latvian artists who are working with social
contexts, but only few among them have done projects
with participatory aspects.
minichbauer: in the
re:public art projects, the political aspects
seem to be quite - i would say - subtle, and when
i asked artists about that, there were often answers
like: we do not want to be political in a bold way...
yes, this is a strange situation in latvia - especially
compared with the situation in austria. a few artists
are involved in documenting or reflecting social
problems, but almost none of them is trying to directly
approach political questions. in the art field there
have been some singular projects, like anti-consumerist
projects organised by creative group open.
it seems almost like the mainstream attitude among
artists is: we do not want to be involved in any
politics. compared to a critical tradition in the
west, which is mainly based on marxist or leftist
ideas, latvain society after the breakdown of the
soviet union was more right-wing oriented. it is
only recently that a critical attempt towards globalisation
and capitalism has become a bit more part of the
an exception is the ecological
movement - there is a tradition of critique and
protest, which was very strong at the end of the
soviet times. this is also the background of the
bolderaja group, which participates in re:public.
it was not formed as 'bolderaja group' at that time,
but the people, who are members of the group now,
were very active in the ecological movement already
at that time.
is a remote suburb of riga, close to the sea...
it is a very beautiful area and in recent times
a few richer people started to buy houses there,
because it is so close to the sea. but generally
it is still considered as one of the most unfavorable
minichbauer: in which
way is bolderaja group connected to the art sector?
they are activists, they never call themselves artists.
but for some projects, they invite artists to co-operate
with them. they are quite known in the art field
and a number of famous latvian artists have worked
with them. sometimes their projects are more aggressive,
but this time they made a very optimistic project:
bolderaja is beautiful, in which they invited
people to take pictures of what they find beautiful
in bolderaja, and then they displayed the pictures
in several shops on the local market place.
minichbauer: as for
the participatory aspect, what was the overall concept
it is strongly determinded by a local context. The
project is planned as a first step to interrupt
this passive silence, as an invitation for participation.
By raising their interest, we try to convince them
that art could be used as a tool to express their
ideas and demands. Then this may result in local
initiatives organised by communities themselves
or even articulation of critical statements. eriks
is in a funny way to reflect on that: it displays
in public space - on a wall surrounding
a busy market place - excerpts from the new
city regulations on public order. as a community
for this, eriks chose a district of riga, which
is very much a world of it's own, where you get
the impression that the people there are not even
aware that something like the municipality exists.
so it becomes obvious that there is no way to communicate
between those power structures and real people and
displaying those excerpts of the city regulations
might produce some - in the best sense - aggression,
that people ask, what this is supposed to mean.
because normally there is not even any interest
in what is happening around them, and that might
be a first step for them to do something on their
another aspect of communication
we can notice in dace dzerina's project the itinerant
in which a dance teacher comes to places in two
parks, where also the dance steps are painted on
the floor. the project is mainly about humanising
an area, and to invite people to cross this border
and to just step on the dance floor and do something.
there is no critical message behind, just the invitation
to take part in process.
minichbauer: for re:public
a program-booklet was published in the form of a
city guide, which in addition to brief
project descriptions includes texts on psychogeographic
walks and travels through riga. what is the concept
behind offering these different ways to perceive
of and take part in the project?
one aim, that i just briefly described, was to try
to reach the people, who live in the suburbs and
to communicate with them and we also wanted to offer
something to people who live in the city centre
or to guests in the city. we liked the idea of psychogeography
because of the situationist experience and in practical
terms we thought that people maybe will not like
to spend many hours in order to go to bolderaja
to see only one single art project, but that maybe
they would like to go there to see also other places
or discover this specific neighbourhood, and so
we can give them some useful hints what to hope
for and what to do. on the one hand we developed
this idea of psychogeography and wanted to invite
people to look at things from another point of view.
on the other hand it was also a question of public
relations and how to advertise a project.
is the relevance of re:public for the further
development of the projects of the lcca?
in a way it is like a logical development of our
activities and a step in this development from object-based
to more process-oriented and also participatory
projects. the feedback and the reflection on the
project will be important for new directions to
be taken and for defining our future activities.
thank you very much.