The Blueprint curated diary: Katerina Gregos

The curator of the first-ever Riga Biennale of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA), Katerina Gregos, shares her pick of the season’s best exhibitions, events and books

Katerina Gregos is the chief curator of the first-ever Riga Biennial of Contemporary Art, RIBOCA1, which opens on 2 June in Latvia’s capital. A prominent international curator, historian and writer, Gregos has curated a number of major exhibitions and biennials including Manifesta 9, the ninth iteration of the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, as well as the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art and the Danish and Belgian Pavilions at the Venice Biennale.

She has also held positions as founding director and curator of the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens (1997–2002), artistic director of Argos Centre for Art and Media in Brussels (2006–2007) and artistic director of Art Brussels (2012–2016).

Athens & Epidaurus Festival
From 1 June to 18 August

I always enjoy the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, Greece’s most important performing arts festival that features a wide variety of international actors, artists, musicians, performers alongside new productions of classical theatre in the magnificent outdoor ancient theatre at Epidaurus, in the Peloponnese. Experiencing a performance in what is considered to be the most perfect ancient Greek theatre in terms of acoustics and form is a truly unforgettable experience. Athens and Epidaurus, Greece

Baltic Triennial 13
In Vilnius 11 May – 12 August; 
In Tallinn 29 June – 2 September; In Riga 21 September – 18 November

Baltic Triennial 13

I very much look forward to the Baltic Triennial which, for the first time, will take place in the three Baltic countries: Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The biennial will feature visual art but also poetry and music, examining what it means to belong at a time of fractured identities. The fact that this event is happening in a more expanded form confirms how the Baltic states comprise a region to keep an eye on at this moment. I consider the triennial as happening at an opportune moment of increased activity in the region, and an exciting and very promising complement to the Riga Biennial.

Jonas Staal: Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective
Until 23 September

Jonas Staal: Steve Bannon: A Propaganda RetrospectiveImage Credit: Jonas Staal and Remco Van Bladel

I am really intrigued by Dutch artist Jonas Staal’s project, which promises to be very unorthodox. This constitutes a new chapter of Staal’s contemporary propaganda research through a retrospective of the films, cultural and political work of Steve Bannon. The project aims to demonstrate the major impact of propaganda art on contemporary democratic societies, in this case through the machinations of the fallen American masterpropagandist. Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam

Yuval Noah Harari: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Out in August

Yuval Noah Harari: 21 Lessons for the 21st CenturyImage Credit: Ramy Zinger

I am a big fan of historian and author Yuval Noah Harari for his writing on the human condition, past, present and future. After Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus, he returns with this new book. Focusing on the here and now, Harari’s book aims to navigate our increasingly complex and hard-to-comprehend world — and to draw attention to the essential questions we should be asking ourselves today. In his intelligent, lucid and refreshingly unpretentious style, his book will turn its attention to some of the world’s most pressing issues, including terrorism, fake news and migration, as well as more personal issues, from resilience and humility to introspection and privacy. Published by Jonathan Cape

From 2 June to 28 October

RIBOCA1Image Credit: Marten Vanden Eynde/Verbeke Foundation

Of course, I am looking forward to the first edition of the Riga Biennial. Entitled Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More, it will reflect on current processes of change and acceleration, and how these are registered, anticipated, experienced, grasped, and assimilated. Including 99 artists and 10 collectives, many ‘unusual suspects’ and more than 50% new commissions, the biennial will unfold in several stunning venues. Whereas many recent biennials have been quite retrospective — anachronistic, even — the Riga Biennial will set its eyes firmly on the present and the near future of the human condition. I am particularly excited to work in such a historically rich part of the world, the Baltic region (the locus of much pivotal change), and to contribute to establishing a new, meaningful and sustainable biennial structure.

Bouchra Khalili
Until 17 June

Bouchra KhaliliImage Credit: Courtesy Bouchra Khalil

I am curious to see Bouchra Khalili’s solo exhibition at Vienna Secession. The artist addresses the thorny issues of migration, citizenship, and minorities, with great subtlety and profound humanity, while avoiding moralism and didacticism, the pitfalls and trappings of a lot of art dealing with contested narratives. Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession, Vienna

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