Diana Lelonek at Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art 2018
EVERYTHING WAS FOREVER UNTIL IT WAS NO MORE
Speed is the form of ecstasy the technical evolution has bestowed on man… He is caught in a fragment of time cut off from both the past and the future; he is wrenched from the continuity of time; he is outside time…
—Milan Kundera, Slowness, 1996
Change is a constant and imperceptible process. Nothing remains the same and yet it often feels as if things are fixed, solid certainties. Change operates in strange ways. ‘Ta panta rhei’ (everything flows), the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus pointed out, meaning that: everything is constantly changing, from the smallest organic particle to the whole universe. According to him, every seemingly stable object is ultimately a figment of one’s imagination; only change itself is real, being constant and in eternal flux, like the continuous flow of the river, which always renews itself and only appears to remain the same over time. Until recently – and excluding those rarer radical moments of personal, social or political transformation – change has appeared to creep up on us slowly. But then it sometimes happens that one day we ‘wake up’ and experience a sudden break in consciousness. It abruptly dawns on us that our world has changed beyond recognition. We feel as if we have been thrust into the future, unwittingly. In recent years, and particularly since the advent of the technological revolution, it seems that even the Heraclitan constant flow of things has turned into a torrent. Our world seems to be ever accelerating. As James Gleick argues in Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything: “We have reached the epoch of the nanosecond. This is the heyday of speed”. The 1st Riga Biennial will reflect on the phenomenon of change – how it is anticipated, experienced, grasped, assimilated and dealt with at this time of accelerated transitions and the increasing speeding up of our lives.
The Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA) is an international biennial with a European focus and a strong regional profile, founded in 2016. Taking the rich history of Riga and the Baltic states as its underlying framework, the Biennial highlights the artistic landscape of the wider region and creates opportunities for artists to enter into dialogue with the cultural, historical and socio-political context of the city and its geographic surrounds.
Taking into account criticisms of the proliferation of biennial culture, or ‘biennialisation’ as it has been called, RIBOCA aims to create a sustainable model based on best practices that prioritise artists, artistic production and the meticulous presentation and mediation of art. The Biennial is based on a working process that starts from the local, expanding to the national and the regional, and finally to the transnational. The Biennial aims to take root and make roots in the place where it is situated. Reflecting the biennial’s global outlook and mission to increase artistic engagement between the Baltic region and the rest of the world, a significant proportion of the commissioned and selected artists either live, work or were born in the Baltic region, a territory which still remains relatively unexplored despite its prolific artistic production.
RIBOCA sees itself as a critical site of artistic experimentation and knowledge production, an activator of co-operation and exchange between local and regional actors and institutions, an instigator of generosity towards peers, and a barometer of current social, political and economic issues filtered through artistic practices.