Your guide to festivals and biennials in the Baltics for summer 2023


Your guide to festivals and biennials in the Baltics for summer 2023

Vilnius Biennial brings performances to the city

23 July – 6 August 2023, Vilnius, Lithuania


The first edition of the Vilnius Biennial of Performance Art will invite the residents of and visitors to Vilnius to witness performances by both established and emerging artists from Lithuania and abroad. The main focus of this Biennial is the city as a human-made and human-dominated environment that we share with other life forms, where different histories, myths, activities, interests, desires and visions collide, coexist and overlap.

Kaunas Biennale and Survival Kit unite in friendship

Kaunas Biennale, 25 August – 29 October @kaunasbiennial

Survival Kit, 7 September – 8 October @survivalkit

The 14th Kaunas Biennale (Kaunas, Lithuania) and Contemporary Art Festival Survival Kit 14 (Riga, Latvia) announce Alicia Knock and Inga Lāce as the co-curators of Long-distance Friendships – a programme of events driven by shared research, friendship, and exchange of ideas activating decolonial perspectives and aesthetics across sites in each country. As the seemingly forgotten, yet so present, the traumatic past of the region is looming back in the daily lives of Eastern European societies with the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the curators  ask: in a time of geopolitical fragmentation, can international alliances be forged and nurtured based on friendship and solidarity rather than power and market dynamics?

Vilnius Biennial of Performance Art. Opening event (curated programme) Emilija Škarnulytė performance. Photo by Marius Zicius
Installation view of the work by Tabita Rezaire at the Contemporary Art Festival Survival Kit 13 “The Little Bird must be Caught” curated by iLiana Fokianaki, in Riga, September 2022. Photo by Ēriks Božis, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Tallinn performance art festival SAAL Biennaal celebrates its 20th edition

21 – 31 August, Tallinn, Estonia


SAAL Biennaal is a performance art biennale in Tallinn at Kanuti Gildi SAAL theatre. This edition has been collectively curated by the people of SAAL and the opening performance will be DOOM – a collaboration between Teresa Vittucci and Colin Self. Many of the works in the programme address the “invisible other” – something or someone who has been left out, and the borders between “here” and “there”, “me” and “them”.

Cesis art festival opens in mid-July

15 July – 20 August, Cesis, Latvia


Cesis Art Festival opens with exhibitions and concerts on the 15 July in the North-Latvian town of Cesis. The main exhibition is a group show Artifacts of the Present, curated by Žanete Skarule, where artists Ola Vasiljeva, Kristaps Ancans, Augustas Serapinas and Lina Lapelyte create a dialogue with space, its history, and imagined future. The festival programme also includes solo shows by Martins Vizbulis and Raimonds Staprāns. 

Ôss by Marlene Monteiro Freitas. Photo by Laurent Philipe
MABOCA festival in Madona. Photo by MABOCA

MABOCA draws the viewers into a game of irony

20 May – 15 July, Madona, Latvia


For the third year running, MABOCA, or Madona Bunch of Cool Art is an art festival in the town of Maboca in Latvia. The festival brings together local and international artists and draws viewers into a game of irony, starting with the name of the biennale, which is a reference to the Riga International Biennial RIBOCA. The festival will take place in Madona's railway station, bus station, cinema "Vidzeme," and several outdoor locations. 

Urban Festival UIT in Tartu focuses on wastelands

16 – 19 August, Tartu, Estonia


Urban Festival UIT (derived from the Estonian word “uitama” – to wander) is a site-specific art festival which aims to discover the urban space of its host town Tartu from new and exciting angles. The festival cooperates with local and foreign artists working in interdisciplinary mediums. The ephemeral charm of UIT is embodied in the way the festival gives new life to long forgotten and abandoned places in Tartu – deserted buildings and overgrown gardens which have not stood the test of time. The temporary revival of those sites allows Tartu to expand in abstract dimensions and encourages the audience to dream. The central theme of this year, Urban Pause, focuses on the wastelands and voids of Tartu.

Summer Exhibition of Estonian Young Contemporary Art Union

3 – 24 August, Tallinn, Estonia


The first annual show of the Estonian Young Contemporary Art Union will happen at Tallinn Art Hall gallery in August. The Union has so far been giving weekly awards for young artists on Instagram. It is a non-institutional community of young artists aiming to acknowledge, introduce and unite young artists just starting their careers. There will be events on the opening and final day of the show, tours, a public programme and a visitor’s award for the best artist. The title and concept of the show is a reference to the traditional Spring Exhibition at Tallinn Art Hall, organized yearly by the Estonian Artists Association.

Estonian Young Contemporary Art Union. Collage. 2023.