“1914” – discussion, message, memories

“1914” – discussion, message, memories
Kaspars Garda, Rīga 2014 . On 18 January exhibition “1914” was opened at exhibition hall “Arsenāls”
As part of the Riga as the European Capital of Culture year programme, from 18 January till 20 April, the Latvian National Museum of Art exhibition hall “Arsenāls” features the exhibition “1914” in honor of the 100th anniversary of WWI. A few days before the exhibition opening, its creators told about the making of the project.

Latvian National Museum of Art Director Māra Lāce told that when foundation “Rīga 2014” offered the museum to create this exhibition, its workers did not fully grasp the scope of the project. “It is said that the First World War changed the world, the course of its development and the geopolitical situation, highlighting many new and independent countries on the map of Europe that were founded after the collapse of the four empires.

And this also was the goal of the exhibition – to pass through the breakdown, extinction; the things that we associate with war and to reach newly created art.


The art of that time and authors, who themselves witnessed those times. I think that the greatest success of the exhibition is that we were able bring art of that time from the newest countries that were established at the beginning of the 20th century, from 17 museums and art galleries of 11 countries. I think that there is no precedent to this exhibition that features Polish, Slovenian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Finnish and other country art in one place. I want to congratulate foundation “Rīga 2014” that allowed us to carry out this project, as it was difficult and, most definitely, no cheap to make.”

Head of foundation “Rīga 2014” Diāna Čivle says that when the Riga as the European Capital of Culture programme was first created, it seemed essential to note such grand historic event as WWI. “All of Europe and even the world are talking about this event and it is one of the main topics of discussion this year. When we first suggested the idea of the exhibition to the museum, we did not think that it would be of such scope.

Only now we understand that the exhibition makes us think of many aspects, like of war as a historic event, a battle between powers, while the lives of ordinary people continue also during times of war – they live, work, suffer, survive and love.

Specifically human emotions and the way artists have portrayed them is the most important aspect of this exhibition.”

Curator of the thematic division “Freedom Street” Gints Grūbe (“1914” is part of the thematic division “Freedom Street”) says that because of the events that begun unfolding in 1914, many Eastern European countries, including Latvia, gained their independence. “We are still bound by those events and relations, caused by the year 1914; also, these events did not take place that long ago. Superpowers, for example, continue establishing relationships based on the outcome of WWI. We can say that WWI in Latvia concluded with regaining of independence in 1991 and the moment when Brivibas Street (Freedom Street) regained its historic name after bearing the name of Lenin Street, Adolf Hitler Straße and the Petrograd Highway. Undeniably, WWI was a historic turning point and is significant to Riga and Latvia, therefore it was important that the opening of the exhibition was part of the “Rīga 2014” opening programme. I think that the museum has done an excellent job in creating the exhibition and carrying out its message.”


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