The third Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Latvia (RIBOCA), which is scheduled to open on August 10 and will run until March 2025, will not take place due to its organizers’ ties to Russia. The event had already been postponed from its original opening in 2022 after Russia attacked Ukraine in February of that year, with RIBOCA issuing a statement denouncing the invasion and pledging solidarity with those calling for an end to the war. war.
Agniya Mirgorodskaya, the founder of RIBOCA, is of Russian and Lithuanian descent and until recently funded the event with money provided by her father, Russian fishing magnate Gennady Mirgorodsky. Russian funding of RIBOCA was already a hotly debated topic in the Latvian art world due to the country’s checkered history under Soviet rule, which ended in 1990. Latvia, which shares a border with the Russia, has taken in some 6,000 Ukrainian refugees since Putin’s rule. incursion into their homeland.
“It seems that the legacy of our executive members, which includes Russians among Lithuanian and Latvian nationalities, is something too great to overcome as the Russian attack on Ukraine rekindles tensions from an occupied past. “, wrote the organizers in a press release. statement.
More than sixty artists were to participate in the exhibition which, since its postponement, has been called “The Elephant in the Room”. Curated by René Block, with the SUPERFLEX collective acting as co-curator, the main exhibition was to feature twenty-five women-identifying artists, whose work addressing various current issues was to appear in venues across the city. .
“We have been forced to face the difficult reality that what we provide may simply be inappropriate or unwanted in these trying times, however benevolent our intentions,” the organizers wrote. “Furthermore, in the best interest of the well-being of our team and the artists, we have decided to put our efforts on hold.”