The Riga Photography Biennial (RPB) is an international contemporary art event, focusing on the analysis of visual culture and artistic representation. The term ‘photography’ in the title of the biennial is used as an all-embracing concept encompassing a mixed range of artistic image-making practices that have continued to transform the lexicon of contemporary art in the 21 st century.

The biennial covers issues ranging from cultural theory to current socio-political processes in the Baltics and the wider European region. Using the format of an art festival, Riga Photography Biennial attempts to record changes taking place all over the world and invites us to collectively interpret them – something we not only need to see but also imagine whilst translating the complicated and oversaturated contemporary visual language into meaningful relationships between our daily reality, the camera lens, historic material, contemporary art, technologies and the future. How has our understanding of photography and image changed because of digital technologies, and how does it manifest itself in the work of art? For the organisers of the biennial these are important questions to present and analyse, whilst at the same time introducing Latvian audiences to leading works of international art as well as the ideas of prominent art theoreticians presented in the form of symposiums, discussions and publications in parallel with exhibitions and performances.

The first Riga Photography Biennial took place in 2016.

Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2019

The Riga Photography Biennial’s main event programme spans various fields and encompasses significant events, creating an opportunity to meet several internationally renowned art industry professionals. The biennial’s Off-year Programme focuses mainly on young and promising artists from the Baltics, Nordic countries and Europe who are still in the early stages of their careers. By introducing young and promising artists, the Off-year Programme offers visibility and provides a platform for artists to announce themselves to a wider context. The biennial’s Education Programme provides opportunities for artists as well as the general public to learn more about current trends in image culture, which is a subject not often covered by higher education institutions in Latvia.

To emphasise the focus of the Off-year Programme as different from the biennial’s main programme, the off-year events have been given the special title Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT. The word ‘next’ (used in its original form in English and not translated) embodies the idea of movement. ‘Next’ is a transition – never safe, predictable or known in advance, it has a direct and irrevocable presence that constantly poses the question: ‘Does whatever comes next in any way link to what was before? Can the new really be radically new?’ The exhibition of the finalists for the ‘Seeking the Latest in Photography!’ award, which is the main event of RPB – NEXT, excites viewers with a contemporary point of view and a conceptual and emotional depth revealing the power of image and presenting work that invites contemplation and reflection on our deepest-held preconceptions.