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Interview with Igors Gubenko, curator of Chekhov Theatre Gallery

We are so excited to see new art spaces opening up in Riga, and in May's RLT gallery evening we had the pleasure of welcoming four new galleries: Riga Photomonth Gallery (pop-up), Tallinas Kvartāla “Projektu māja”, Maxim Boxer Gallery, and Chekhov Theatre Gallery.

Continuing our new interview cycle with the city's arts professionals, we present you with our conversation with Igors Gubenko, curator of Chekhov Theatre Gallery.

chekov theatre gallery mareunrols

Can you tell us a little bit about the new gallery space and its location within the contemporary theatre space? What inspired the decision to create a gallery within a theatre?

Artist duo MAREUNROL’S came up with the idea of creating a gallery while working on Laura Groza’s new production “With Dance Shoes in Siberian Snows”. The theatre embraced the idea, assuming it as a part of its mission to speak on socially relevant issues – like that of Soviet deportations – in the language of contemporary art, addressing a broad and diverse city public walking along Kaļķu Street – the main pedestrian artery of Old Riga.

What kind of exhibitions and events can visitors expect to see at the gallery? Are there any particular themes or types of art that the gallery is focused on showcasing?

For each exhibition, an artist will be invited to engage in dialogue with an upcoming theatre production. Importantly, the art exhibited at the gallery will not be a translation of a dramatic work into a visual medium. Rather, quite like “Purification”, it will reinvent specific elements of the performance in an original artwork that departs from the stage performance in a direction of its own.

How do you see the new gallery fitting into the larger arts scene in Riga? What role do you hope the gallery will play in the city's cultural landscape?

The gallery sets as its goal to exhibit socially relevant art exploring sensitive and possibly divisive issues in an empathetic and responsible way. Exposed to a buzzing international urban environment, the space will seek to become a beacon of contemporary art where one does not expect to find it – in one of the busiest spots of Old Riga.

What do you think sets this new gallery space apart from other galleries in Riga? What do you hope visitors will take away from their experience at the gallery?

Being the only Theatre gallery in town, the place is unique in terms of its essential link to performing arts. Both spatially and conceptually, the gallery is a hybrid of a white cube and a theatre stage. While the exhibitions will be on view 24/7, the possibility of entering the space at specific times will provide a more intimate, nuanced and multifaceted gallery experience.

Looking ahead, are there any upcoming exhibitions or events that you're particularly excited about? What can visitors look forward to in the coming months?

The next exhibition will be announced shortly before the start of the autumn season.


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