I Official Participation at La Biennale di Venezia
8. International Architecture Exhibition

Castle of Light

Organization: Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art
Commissioner: Arvils Asheradens
Architect: Gunnar Birkerts
The Artists Group “Ma1z3”: Linards Kulless, Una Meiberga, Simona Veilande, Voldemars Johansons
Gunnar Birkerts official site

The theme and core of our exhibition is the project for the new National Library building by the outstanding Latvian architect Gunnar Birkerts. Although the first sketches had already appeared in 1989, the project has developed over time and the political decision to construct the building has only just been taken. In Latvia the new building has been called the Castle of Light or the Glass Mountain because of the recognizable allusions to images from Latvian folklore in its brilliant architectural form. The architect’s profound understanding of the Latvian essence is embodied in the building’s modern form and it has become a national symbol.
We look upon the Castle of Light as the expression of the Latvian identity. The approach of the young artists’ group Ma1z3 is to play on architectural metaphors from various angles in space and from various points in time. “Expressive architecture”, says Birkerts, “the form expresses the content”, add the theorists. By thematising the semantics of architecture, the artists record the origins of symbolism.
The body of the building will not only contain information technologies, but also behind its visible silhouette will be the unforgotten past. Looking at the Glass Mountain we think of light flashing along optic fibres but somewhere the feeling comes that we are home. Is it the pure Latvian form, or the ridges of a thatched roof, or a greeting to the spires of Old Riga across the Daugava? Birkerts does not offer the answers – from both the interior and the exterior, our National Library encourages us to find out. Yes, the exhibition will help you to perceive the library; I am sure that you will have noticed, heard and scented a part of Latvia.