Video (03:22 min)
5 + 1AP

Many years ago, Ivars Grāvlejs decided to return to Riga for a year to rediscover the city of his childhood. What he discovered was that the first ten years of freedom had created, as much as in other post-Soviet republics, a new oligarchy. Within this period of time, Latvian industry lost 40 percent of its production capacities. Social inequalities were constantly growing, and the whole country was falling into a bigger and bigger circle of unemployment. Around 23 percent of Latvians were without a job, and more than 12 percent of the population worked abroad. Using tricksteric anthropological methods, Grāvlejs explored the socio-economic context of Latvia’s capital city, resulting in the creation of several video works. Now, more than a decade later, we can reevaluate if something has really changed.

The exhibition RIGA (in collaboration with Czech artist Petra Pětiletá) was first opened in Karlin Studios, Prague and in Riga Art Space, Riga, in 2012. WAR for TERRITORY is one of the works from that project.

About the artist

Ivars Grāvlejs (born in 1979) is a Latvian photographer born in Riga who lives and works in Prague. He completed his master’s degree at the Department of Photography at FAMU in 2007 and doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 2021. He is the head of the photography studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts (FAVU) in Brno. Together with Kateryna Berlova, they have formed an artists’ union, Dirty Romantics.
Having had more than 40 solo exhibitions worldwide, Grāvlejs is known for his social critique and ironic viewpoint, which are usually portrayed in his provocative multimedia artworks. His work pushes the boundaries of the language of photography in an attempt to challenge the rules of rationality and order – an approach that owes much to the art movements of Dada and the 1970s and 1980s German conceptualism.
Grāvlejs’s works have been exhibited at such venues as Tate Modern, London, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin and the Photo London 2019 festival at Somerset House. In 2015, a monograph of Ivars’s early works was published by Mack (London). His works can be found in the Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol; the Thomas Mailaender Collection, Paris; the European Patent Office, Munich; the Latvian National Museum of Art; the Latvian Museum of Photography; and Zuzāns Collection, Riga. 

More works by this artist

HD video (04:35 min), 2023
Video (03:22 min), 2012

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