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The biennial will now take place in 2023. Photo: Elena Kononova.
The biennial will now take place in 2023. Photo: Elena Kononova.

Latvia’s Riga International Biennial Delayed Owing to Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Organizers of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Latvia (RIBOCA) on April 13 announced that they are pushing the third iteration of the event, which had been to run from July to October of this year, to 2023. “In times like these, to envision working towards an exhibition that was supposed to be a vast celebration of art, respect and togetherness feels inconceivable whilst heinous crimes are still being committed in Ukraine,” said the biennial team in a statement. “We strongly condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine and are united with everyone who calls for an immediate end of the war.”

Over sixty international and Latvian artists were slated to participate in the main exhibition, titled “Exercises in Respect” and featuring a number of new commissions responding to the city’s social and political landscape. Latvia, which shares a border with Russia along its eastern edge, has taken in some 6,000 Ukrainian refugees since the launch of the Russian attack in late February. According to estimates put forth by the United Nations, roughly seven million Ukrainians have been displaced within their own country, while six million have fled the nation altogether.

“We must reconsider the validity of the biennial format in times like these,” the RIBOCA organizers asserted. “There must be discourse on how the art world and biennials can influence and engage societies during periods of war and conflict. What kind of platform for expression and exchange do artists, curators, and our society need?”

The biennial team stated, “This is an unimaginable tragedy where no one should remain indifferent. We express our enormous respect to everyone who does not keep quiet and is helping those in need.”