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Latvian Culture Week to be organised at EXPO 2020

The Latvian Culture Week will take place at EXPO 2020 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 19 to 28 February, and will include a series of digital art and film events.

The activities of the Culture Week will present the bright achievements of the Latvian creative industry, and will provide an opportunity for both the public and professionals of the cultural sector of UAE, as well as visitors of Dubai to learn more about Latvian culture, meet representatives of the Latvian and UAE cultural environment and create new points of contact for establishing new cooperation. The Latvian Culture Week is organised by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) and the prominent Dubai Art Centre ‘Alserkal Avenue’.

“The Latvian Pavilion at EXPO 2020 in Dubai is a creative space where entrepreneurs can work together with cultural workers and artists to generate new ideas and lay the foundations for future achievements. Therefore, the Ministry of Culture has chosen to focus on the synergy between art and new technology, which will be highlighted by the solo exhibition ‘OKEANOS’ of our new media artist and composer Voldemārs Johansons, as well as a discussion of the representatives of digital art from Latvia and United Arab Emirates on the opportunities and risks the digital art poses,” says Dace Vilsone, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture.

"We have seen that Latvian culture can surprise the world. On the Latvian National Day at EXPO 2020, our artists Intars Busulis, Asnāte and Aurēlija Rancānes and the accompanying band performed a song in Arabic, which was broadcast on the UAE national television, touching the hearts of the locals. This time we have included an offer of contemporary art in the programme, thus presenting Latvia as a country that keeps pace with the global trends. In the field of culture, the UAE is constantly looking for new ways to surprise its guests, making Dubai a great stage for any artist who wants to gain international recognition,” explains Inga Ulmane, Director at the Latvian Pavilion.

Latvian Culture Week will open on 19 February with a solo exhibition by artist Voldemārs Johansons at the Alserkal Avenue Art Centre. V. Johansons is one of the most compelling representatives of Latvia’s new media art and has gained wide international recognition. OKEANOS is his first solo exhibition in the UAE, featuring a number of recent works by the artist with new iterations exactly at the venue of the exhibition. The central piece of the exhibition, from which its name is derived, is the installation OKEANOS, consisting of high-speed images published by internet users in real-time. The work draws attention to the impact of today’s digital environment, which competes with the human desire for direct contact with the surrounding world. Other works in the exhibition, including bas-reliefs from carbon ore found during an expedition in the Svalbard archipelago and the installation Oscillations, based on seismic data, highlights the interaction between man and the natural environment, giving a physical or aural form to natural processes. “The exhibition illuminates the tension between virtuality and reality, drawing attention to the impact of the digital environment and long-term processes in the natural environment that exist even if we choose not to see them,” says the artist. The exhibition will be open until 27 February.

On 20 February, Alserkal Avenue will host a discussion on the opportunities and challenges provided by the digital environment to the artists. Representatives of the Latvian and UAE art scene will take part in the discussion, and the audience will have an opportunity to meet the street artist Kiwie who has gained wide recognition both in Latvia and abroad and who successfully showcases the connection of street art with NFT solutions.

The Culture Week will continue with the premiere of the Latvian feature film ‘Bedre (The Pit)’ in the UAE on 22 February at Alserkal Avenue. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the category for Best International Feature Film. The film has also won several awards and nominations at prestigious film festivals in the United States, Russia, Estonia, China, South Korea, Germany, the Netherlands and Morocco. After the screening, viewers will have the opportunity to meet with the film’s director Dace Pūce and producer Kristela Pudāne to discuss the film and the current events in the film industry. Director D. Pūce, together with producer K. Pudāne, is currently working on a new feature film ‘Manny’, which will be the first Latvian-Indian co-production film.

After the events, the discussions will be available on the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) YouTube channel.

Alongside cinema and art events, bilateral meetings organised by LIAA with representatives of the UAE cultural industry will take place in order to find common ground for joint cooperation projects. During this time, a Trade mission for the design, accessories, fashion, interior and art object manufacturers will be held, in which 10 Latvian companies have confirmed their participation.

In the Trade mission Latvia will be represented by the companies Sofia Riga (jewellery), PrintArt (shapewear), RIPA (fashion goods), Creative Workshop LM (textiles), ARETAI (speakers), RO STUDIO (jewellery), VAIDAVA CERAMICS (design crockery), Etna Design (special design hanging baskets), VASKALA (leather goods), LITE candles (scented candles).

About the author of the exhibition:

Artist and composer Voldemārs Johansons is one of the most recognised Latvian new media artists. He has studied electronic music composition at the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague.

He has gained wide international recognition, his works have been exhibited at prestigious art events such as the Venice Biennale of Architecture, the Ars Electronica Center (Linz), the Ruhr Triennial (Bochum), LISTE Art Fair (Basel) and many other places.

In his works, based on the synergy of art, science and technology, the artist explores the perception and experience of sound in various audiovisual forms, as well as talks about ecology and sustainability.


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