Riga 2014: ‘1514. Book. 2014’ Exhibition

Exhibition Opening Ceremony
Tuesday 1 July 2014, 17.00–17.30


Books have always belonged to someone, and still do. A book is at the same time a material and an intellectual possession, concealing a powerful force of influence. Books preserve and create knowledge, they allow the imagination to reach places where the physical body never can. The printed book, which first ‘saw the light of day’ in about 1450, changed the world by first changing its readers. The period 500 years ago was significant because then, as today, when digital content is beginning to replace printed material, the nature of the book was undergoing important changes. With the development of printing technology, books became cheaper, more convenient to read and accessible to a wider audience; books became the messengers of religious and social change. The far distant year 1514, exactly 500 years ago, vividly characterises the age of great ideational change: the end of the Renaissance and the blossoming of humanism, culminating in the Reformation. The 1514. Book. 2014 exhibition will provide an opportunity to examine the books published in that particular year across Europe, revealing the cultural richness and diversity of the age.

The aim of the 1514. Book. 2014 exhibition is to reveal European culture, politics and mentality as it was 500 years ago, focusing on people’s personal relationships with the text and the world. Book reading almost always demands solitude and withdrawal from the world. At the time of reading, the book makes the reader ‘its own’ and the book becomes ‘mine’ to the reader, even if it is not physically his or her property. The concept ‘mine’, expressing the significance of material, intellectual and spatial possession in human life, will be the guiding motif of this exhibition. Through books printed 500 years ago, we will demonstrate how the long dead people of the sixteenth century perceived and sensed their world. This exhibition will invite contemporary readers and viewers to become aware of their belonging to the past as documented by historical books.