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Art seen in Riga

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

RIGA 2 September – 18 October

Art graduates exhibit in industrial setting

Točka is a temporary art project running for two months in a deserted late-19th century factory building (50,000 m2) in Sarkandaugava, a former industrial area of Riga. Točka hosts about 90 artworks by students graduating from fine art and design, but also those studying contemporary dance and drama. One drama performance involving local children will take place in October.

There are too many artworks and artists to describe here, or even name, but many are interesting, some inspiring and a few quite mysterious. Each artist was given a room in which to create or exhibit their work, using the building's own presence as part of the work. Well worth a visit!

The installation shown below is about being a young artist having to live in a very small space and not being able to expand physically or creatively, even if the available space is large because compact feels cozy and safe, like in a bubble.

The setting in the room shown below was created by an ensemble of six female scenography bachelor students at the Latvian Art Academy, who have named themselves Grāfienes (derived from the name of their department at the art academy, Scenogrāfija). The shadows are actually painted silhouettes created as if projected by strong, well-positioned stage lights. There are several interesting arrangements of silhouettes of people on the walls in the room.

The name točka in Soviet times meant a disguised but locally-known spot to buy alcohol, not an official shop and usually operated late at night. There was a raw edginess to the interaction. It is not clear whether art student organisers of Točka were aware of this meaning when choosing the name, but it fits the vibe they have created. For them točka probably sounded like an exotic name from Soviet times, indicating an active meeting point.

What is unique about this project is that for the first time in many years the general public gets access to the vast Provodnik factory building in Sarkandaugava's Fon Trampinska industrial quarter. The art project has access to about 20,000 m2 on the 2nd and 4th floors. There are so many rooms that even with about 90 artworks exhibited, many rooms are still not used. The rooms, offices and conference halls have remained so untouched from Soviet times and the early 1990s, that the space is an exhibition in itself. Old empty filing cabinets, catalogue shelves, broken floors, posters, improvised electrical wiring and some original late 1980s and early 1990s calendars still on the walls, marking days long past.

The "Provodnik" (Conductor) building was built in 1888 as a Russian-French joint venture to manufacture technical and surgical rubber products. By 1900, the factory produced 35,000 galoshes a day and started producing tyres for bicycles and cars and other types of wheels, as well as hoses, toy rubber balls, medical supplies, ebonite parts, cables and linoleum. The factory at some point employed 6,000 workers.

By the early 20th century, Riga, then an important port city in the Russian Tsarist Empire, had developed into a large industrial centre, but one company stood out from the rest. At the time, Provodnik was the fourth largest car tyre factory in the world, with global potential similar to other brands such as Michelin (FR) and Goodyear (US). But everything was shattered by the First World War. In summer 1915, when German troops were nearing Riga, the Russian managers packed up all the equipment in the Provodnik factory and shipped it to the Moscow area.

The exhibition runs until 18 October.


Graduate art students

Open hours: Mon–Fri 16:00–19:00, Sat 14:00–20:00, Sun 14:00–18:00.

Address: Aptiekas iela 21, but the actual building is at Ganību dambis 19.

Tickets €3.

Further information and directions can be found here (in Latvian): https://tocka.lv/ka-noklut


By Ieva Moore

@micelijs · Art Gallery


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