Installation by Tim Etchells. Photo by Liene Eicēna

Until October 31, urban installations Written in Neon. Riga can be seen in a variety of unusual spots throughout the city. The writings have been created in collaboration with the internationally recognised theatre director, playwright and visual artist Tim Etchells and four artists from Latvia: Santa Remere, Jānis Balodis, Kirils Ēcis, and Inta Balode.

Stories Editorial September 9, 2021

Tim Etchells’s works are characterised by an interest in the controversial nature of language and the way it can convey a story, an idea or a visual message. Using simple neon-rendered phrases, Etchells creates minuscule narratives, moments of reflection and intimacy in various public places. This summer, during text making workshops led by Etchells, publicist Santa Remere, playwright Jānis Balodis and poets Inta Balode and Kiris Ēcis created four artworks dedicated to the city of Riga and its residents.


The installation When You Read This (Kad tu šo lasi) on Miera Street 39 was designed by Tim Etchels himself, inviting the reader to reflect on the past and imagine the future. «When You Read This began from conversations about Latvia and specifically about Riga, its complex and always present historical past and its current situation in moving towards a sense of its future. I wanted to create a work which spoke to the dynamic tension of the city and its inhabitants who face the simultaneous challenges of looking backwards and forwards at the same time,» explains the author.

Santa Remere has created an installation dedicated to Sarkandaugava, located at the intersection of Ganību dambis and Tvaika iela. «The Sarkandaugava canal is a place where no one wants to live or come nearby. But this has not always been the case. Once it played a different role in the city life — it was the Sarkandaugava river that gives name to the area — a river where boats would sail and people would swim. The red letters Dear Heart (Mīļā sirds) is a warning that everything can always change for the better or for the worse,» comments Santa.

The object We Have Something in Common (Mums ir kaut kas kopīgs) by Jānis Balodis can be seen from the «bridge to nowhere» on Daugavgrīvas iela 29a, and it is an attempt to look for things that unite us in any way. Kirils Ēcis’s work is located on the facade of the former Faculty of Biology on Kronvalda bulvāris 4. The author explains the idea behind his installation: «Curious and attentive care for the environment that surrounds us is one of the ways we are able to learn not to cast a shadow, not to stand in front of the light that is needed for someone else. It’s a very utopian idea. At the same time this question is asked by the building itself, about the voids in the cityscape of Riga — buildings that over time have become invisible wrecks.»

You can view a map with the locations of the objects here. The installations popped up unexpectedly and their openings were accompanied by previously unannounced musical performances. An installation by Inta Balode will also be unveiled in the coming weeks. In November, all of the objects will go on «tours» to Aizpute, Tukums, Rēzekne and other cities of Latvia.


The project Told in Neon. Riga has been developed in cooperation with the New Theatre Institute of Latvia and has received financial support from the Riga City Council and the State Culture Capital Foundation.