NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

As part of the Riga Photography Biennial - NEXT 2023 program, starting from April 29, LOOK gallery in Riga will present On Transition: Impressions of Abu Dhabi, a solo exhibition by Latvian artist Adele Bea Cipste, currently residing in the United Arab Emirates. The show is the artist's reflection on what shapes a sense of place and how an individual’s attachment to an area changes in time and as new layers of memory and experience are formed.

The exhibition seeks to highlight the experience of a place, the visual connection between a place and its observer as well as questions on topics related to intercultural understanding, identity, and belonging posed in the exhibited works. At the same time, the exhibition examines how voluntary emigration shapes the way one sees a place, home, as well as their understanding of cultural identity. Is home the place we feel most connected to, is it the place where one’s passport was issued, or the place we fit in most fluently, because we know it the most and understand its culture the best?

Drawing on her lived experience of gradually forging an ever-closer connection with and an understanding of the environment in the United Arab Emirates, Cipste captures visual elements characteristic of Abu Dhabi’s urban environment. In her works, the artist captures comments and questions which she has encountered about the so-called Arab world when periodically returning to Latvia, along with observations about her shifting sense of belonging to the UAE, as well as her own and others’ prejudices against both these locations.

The curator of the exhibition is one of the co-founders of LOOK gallery Raivis Alksnis who is also in charge of the gallery’s exhibition program.

Adele Bea Cipste (1998) is an UAE-based Latvian visual artist working primarily in drawing and photography. Since 2022, she holds a BA in Art Practice and Film Practice from NYU Abu Dhabi. Her place-focused artworks explore intersections between the natural and the constructed, highlight the affective power of physical environments, and reflect on how spaces act as agents of memory. Currently, her core focus is on producing new works that would evolve from specific sites within the UAE and from the idiosyncrasies of the UAE’s physical environments, as well as works which reflect on her changing relationship to Latvia in the context of emigration.   In 2023, she has participated in a series of workshops at Jameel Arts Centre with the Palestinian artist Jumana Emil Abboud, in the “Spectrum” photography residency at Manarat Al Saadiyat, and the exhibition “Getting Over the Color Green” with the art platform Engage101. She is currently working at Gulf Photo Plus, one of the leading photography centres in the Gulf region.

The show will be opened on April 28 at 17:00 in the presence of the artist and will be available to visitors until May 20. 

The NEXT program of the Riga Photography Biennial takes place every second year. It spotlights the young artists from the Baltic, Nordic and other European countries who are still at the beginning of their creative careers. In 2023, the focus of the program is on “awkward” topics. In a total of eight exhibitions and the educational program, young artists will seek answers to questions about the formation of identity. Riga Photography Biennial – NEXT 2023 program events will start on April 27 and span various exhibition halls, art galleries and cityscape in Riga until July 23.