Uģis Brikmanis: “Thirst for the Ocean” Urges You On!
“I took over the thematic line “Thirst for the Ocean” from the “Riga 2014” Head of Programming Aiva Rozenberga who was an admirer of Lennart Meri [former President of Estonia – ed.] and his idea that anyone who lives by the Baltic Sea has the thirst for the ocean. And it was with great respect for Lennart Meri and those who know the history of his statement that I took it as the name for my thematic line, which characterises embarking on the exploration of existence. In my opinion, this is the most important reason why we even exist at all,” says the thematic line’s curator Uģis Brikmanis, adding that he firmly believed that the “Riga 2014” Programme should definitely have a thematic line that would address the extraordinary values – God, life, death, the purpose of man. “If you ask me about the message of my thematic line – it will take years to see whether it has reached hearts and minds.
Because the thirst for the ocean cannot be a characteristic of a group, nor of a duo or trio, it is an individual quality. The seeds have been sown. That who ventures into the ocean and comes back, will sow the seeds again.”
Uģis goes on to say that we have reached the level where one has to speak in metaphors, allegories – in a different language, this is not a conversation about social problems. “It is something where we are at the edge of the unknown, where we clearly know is that Bach is an ocean. The message comes from the universal existence. I will not attempt to categorise or systematise anything, I only wish to emphasise that this thematic line urges us to be always on the move.”
We ask Uģis whether he knew at the very beginning which events of the “Riga 2014” Programme would be part of his thematic line, and he replies with a smile: “A lot of projects sprung up all by themselves, so to speak.” He believes that it proves once again that Lennart Meri was right – those who live on the shores of the Baltic Sea conduct the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra or play in the London Symphony Orchestra. “They go where they can reach their professional potential to the fullest. And it should not be seen as a way to further one’s career.
They are those who are on the road: to work in the London Symphony Orchestra means to be in motion; to travel from Daugavpils to Riga and on to the world, as Mark Rothko did, means to realise that you are in abstract expressionism. Such is the great example of unique personalities.
The other part of my thematic line is exploring the unknown – via music and contemporary art. And also – the wish of young people to say something about the world or prove themselves with the help of 3D cinematography.”
Were all the events in the thematic line equally important to Uģis Brikmanis, or maybe some of them were special and he would like to single them out? “Of course, the most symbolic and important to me is, and will be – until the end of my days I believe – the Chain of Book Lovers, which is the absolute symbol of the ocean, the absolute symbol of our way! But when we were discussing finances and force majeure circumstances, I said that the two things my thematic line should definitely have were “500 Years of the Book” and Bach. They had to be there because this is where Riga is united with the world, at the highest level possible.”
Looking back on the Capital of Culture year that is coming to a close, Uģis Brikmanis is very pleased at what he and his colleagues have achieved, and at the young people that were involved in the Capital of Culture events. “I am very proud of how we could strike a balance despite being so different. Of how Diāna Čivle [Head of the “Riga 2014” foundation – ed.] pulled off this programme with her resolve – this is yet another remarkable example.” Uģis is also confident that Riga as the European Capital of Culture made an impact to the best of its ability. “We did exactly as much as we could do. Furthermore, we have to remember that the world today lives under the shadow of the events in Ukraine, the war with the Islamic State. It would be naïve therefore to hope that the voice of a cultural person could be heard in the world, or become a priority – the world has different tasks at hand. But take the 25,000 thousand ambassadors of the World Choir Games – this is a completely different quality from, for example, information on the Internet or in the mass media… Every person who has been here and experienced this atmosphere understood what was happening. This person will take home much more, tell at least ten people about his or her experience, and the positive message will keep spreading through the world – that Riga is a small island of culture amidst this civilisation.”