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.

“The necessary thing is after all but this; solitude, great inner solitude. Going into oneself for hours meeting no one - this one must be able to attain.”
Rainier Maria Rilke

Continuing to follow the development of image culture, the Riga Photography Biennial has this year chosen to focus on the theme of isolation. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, humanity in the 21st century is now experiencing a new reality – life in isolation. Being social by nature, humans need to communicate with likeminded people and a lack of communication can have a significant impact on mental and physical health. It is not always easy to live with this new reality, to go into oneself.

Another contemporary challenge that has had a noticeable impact on the ways in which we communicate, interact, and exchange information is the development of technology and the ways in which technology now permeates so many aspects of our lives. Sometimes this encourages people to isolate themselves from their surroundings deliberately; by going inwards we can listen to our inner selves, but perhaps also hide from reality by creating an image of ourselves, our circle of friends, and our environment that pleases us.

The Riga Photography Biennial 2022 programme explores the phenomenon of isolation from different angles. Alongside the main theme, the focus is also on the coding of the contemporary image. In an era in which different virtual technologies are developing, photography as an artistic medium has entered a new phase, and the understanding of photography – the image – has changed. We need to re-learn how to read the information contained in an image.