Riga Postcards

Installation at the 2nd Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, curated by Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel
20 August – 13 September 2020

Riga Postcards is an installation that depicts an utopian 1970s–1980s travel fair that features Riga as a gay tourist destination during the Soviet period. At the end of the communist era, Riga was a city of almost a million inhabitants. When gay men from neighbouring countries travelled there for work or sightseeing, they often used the opportunity for casual sexual encounters.

For Riga Postcards, I collaborated with Ineta Lipša, a Latvian historian who is currently researching the diaries of Kaspars Irbe (1906–1996). Throughout the Soviet period, Irbe kept a personal diary where he described in detail the local queer subculture, including cruising in the streets, parks and toilets of Riga Old Town, the city centre, and Jūrmala Beach. His diaries include numerous references to foreign visitors (for example from Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia) who came to Riga to enjoy the relative anonymity of the city.

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Photos by Ansis Starks