The exhibition ‘To Bolderaja I Go’ at the LCCA’s Office gallery

The exhibition ‘To Bolderaja I Go’ opens on 25th May at 6.30pm at the LCCA’s Office gallery (Alberta Street 13). It is organised in commemoration of 2015 as the Year of Hardijs Lediņš. It will feature a video installation and photographic materials devoted to the legendary and mysterious walks to Bolderaja organised by Hardijs Lediņš in the 1980s. The exhibition is curated by Lauris Vorslavs and Diāna Popova.

The first walk to Bolderaja took place in 1980 followed by many more that were immortalised in photographs, watercolour and oil paintings or even just in feelings, however between 1987 and 2002 these processions have also been documented on film. The Bolderaja processions were like rituals – it was a philosophical process involving special preparation and tuning in elements. Although initially the participants themselves did not perceive these walks as art happenings, in the history of Latvian culture they have now become a unique phenomenon of the performance and happening art.

A walk can be considered a meditative process, during which creative interaction, yielded by incidental circumstances and situations, takes place between a person and its environment. The Bolderaja series enable us to feel the approximate nature of this process and while on this journey, experience the light being replaced by darkness, city being replaced by rural and industrial areas, as well as changes in seasons whilst setting off on a different month each year, observing the large and small regularities, and our own consciousness that has been exhausted by the mundane, from a different, unhurried vantage point of the Bolderaja walker.

In a conversation with Normunds Lācis published in 1988 in the magazine “Avots” (Spring), Hardijs Lediņš provides the following description of these ritualised walks:

“The walk along the Bolderaja railway tracks is an event that brings together spiritual and physical qualities. In fact, Bolderaja is a somewhat horrible place and should not be worthwhile visiting. But the actual fact that we are going there is very significant – we leave the house so as to experience the exchange of darkness and the light on our journey: either early in the morning when it is still dark outside… then along the way somewhere on the Spilve marshes the sun raises. Or vice versa. We walk in the evening when the sun sets. The light being replaced by the dark is one of the most powerful impressions. The other one being that we walk through every possible nature, through the city, across level crossings, then through the forest, then across vast fields and in the end arrive at an industrial area. It is not a hike, rather a ritual because it has been performed once a year since 1980, and besides, these processions never take place on the same month of the year. When our limit of 12 months has been exhausted, a new regularity will be conceived. Happenings and rituals take place along the way, for that reason it is not just a hike, and everyone who has ever taken part in it recognises that. It is also not just a hike because we have our own anthem.”

The impressions from Bolderaja walks are also reflected in the lyrics of the band NSRD (Restoration Workshop of Unprecedented Feelings). Compositions such as “Bolderājas dzelzceļa blūzs” (Bolderaja Railway Blues) or “Balāde par dziļo Bolderāju” (The Balade of Deep Bolderaja) can be considered the anthems of Bolderaja, however the whole range of Bolderaja mood is summed up by the album “Bolderājas stils” (The Style of Bolderaja) (1981-1982).

In the exhibition “To Bolderaja I Go” feelings from the Bolderaja walks of the 1980s will overlap with the equally mysterious and private journeys into the time-space that were organised after the death of Hardijs Lediņš – a group of people located on the left bank of the River Daugava had recognised his artistic manifestations as inspiring and relevant to their own creative practice. In 2005 music enthusiast Lauris Vorslavs responded to the call out of culture historian Māra Traumane to digitalise the personal audio archive of Hardijs Lediņš, followed by the creation of online platform, thus making these materials accessible to a wide audience. Along with the virtual archive, the year 2009 saw the beginnings of a series of underground concerts held in memory of Hardijs Lediņš. To mark his birthday, every year between 2009 and 2013 a small group of confederates set off during the first half of June in the direction of Bolderaja. Lauris Vorslavs discloses that these happenings started as “unproduced and undefined introverted “rituals” that can also assume a profoundly existential form, it is the alternative fantasy road of the inner world on the background of romanticised local urban environment and imperceptible time. It is like a personally experienced essence of the past in the context of the present day, which has not stratified and is still pure. This direction towards Bolderaja, the walk along the railway tracks, is not the literal end point of geographic victory, it is a journey in time, removed from the earthly processes. This direction is neither a project, nor a cult, it is a strive towards the non-consumerism, a direction that gathers people who do not need to be especially entertained and do not need to be told something in particular in order to believe that what they do comes from the heart.”

The exhibition at the LCCA’s Office gallery is free of charge and open until 18th June every day from Monday to Friday from 12noon until 6pm. It has been organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with the online platform as part of the commemoration of 2015 as the Year of Hardijs Lediņš.

The exhibition is funded by the State Culture Capital Foundation.

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