With many from Latvia, including our UCP demonstrator “Free Riga”, the “Baltic Stories” visual guide to spaces of culture and the people behind them is out!
The guidebook features 30 stories from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, exploring the relationship between culture, place and people, complemented by original works by emerging Baltic photographers. The publication demonstrates the diversity of cultural processes and the impact they can bring to place development, and vice versa — how space shapes cultural processes.
This journey through the Baltic states delves into the small-scale, everyday and unexpected – a street art festival in Tartu changing the perception of public space, a Vilnius community radio started by friends, green urban gardens, cutting edge contemporary art spaces, decaying Soviet heritage that still serves as a meeting point for locals, and more. It is meant for independent cultural tourists, policymakers, and anyone else willing to explore and take part in shared and meaningful placemaking practices.
Chapter 6 – Free Riga
Chapter 6 in the book called “Use of abandoned spaces”, and it includes the story of one of our demonstrators – Free Riga, side by side with the Tallinn based initiatives Põhjala Tehas and Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia. The chapter sets out to showcase recent efforts, bringing new energy to post-industrial heritage and abandoned spaces and illustrating uses that go beyond gentrification.
The beginnings of the Free Riga organization date back to 2013. Over the years, Free Riga has evolved into an organization which uses mainly cultural instruments to revive properties that the owners have yet to find a purpose for. They work on temporary terms, seeing themselves as mediators between the property owners and users or, in their own words, house guardians. Currently, Free Riga operate in three properties — the Lastādija quarter, culture centre Alksnājs at Alksnāja iela 16, and culture spot V36 at Viskaļu iela 36.
The recently acquired property at Viskaļu iela 36, where the Free Riga team has signed the longest use agreement to date — 25 years. Taking up more than 15 000 square metres of empty space at the former Riga Tehnical University campus in Čiekurkalns, on the shore of Lake Ķīšezers, Free Riga aims to gather artists, cultural and social workers, informal educators, researchers and others to jointly develop a new Life Quality Design Institute.
Text by Anete Ušča and Liāna Ivete Beņķe.
Photos by Alexey Murashko.
For more information visit www.balticstories.lv.