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. It is followed by the Off- Year Programme ‘Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT’ focusing on emerging artists.

The Riga Photography Biennial 2020

This year the Riga Photography Biennial has decided to focus on the archaeology of reality, while continuing to trace the development of image culture. Currently image, as one of the carriers of information, has largely lost its documentary representative function. At the same time it has gained autonomy to create and imitate infinite meanings and realities. Rapid technological development has not only brought unprecedented levels of comfort but also changed our consciousness and perception. Whilst orienting ourselves in numerous systems of concurrent realities, we are necessitated to acquire new skills of visual comprehension.

How do we now perceive and experience reality, while the division between physical and digital realities becomes blurred and our communication dominated by the plurality of values and realities? Alongside the traditional archaeological approach, studying layers of our past to reveal new visions and perspectives of today, we also focus on the current layer – the legacy of the digital era.

By offering a wide-ranging programme of exhibitions, discussions, symposium and master classes, the Biennial accentuates the question of if and how we can coexist within the plurality of realities – either by ignoring and running away, or by embracing a shared vision in relation to some object, occurrence or event.