Monika Pormale

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additional name:
beauty, body, consumerism, heaven, perception, stereotype
Visual Arts (installation art, performance, photography, video art)
Europe, Baltic
created on:
May 17, 2003
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Perception and Relationship

Based in Riga, Latvian artist Monica I Pormale has gained a high profile within the art community for her work exploring interaction between film and visual art, real life and staged situations. stereotypes and anonymity. She works in a range of media, testing conceptual boundaries with energy and conviction.
Latvian artist Monica I Pormale lives and works in Riga. Solvita Krese, Director of Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, describes her as ´one of the most extraordinary young Latvian artists, charged with a powerful creative potential, who very convincingly entered the art scene at the end of the 1990s´.

Pormale is interested in themes of stereotypes and anonymity, examining how they distort perception and relationship. She has also worked on issues of class, immigration and emigration.

Monica I Pormale was born in Jekabpils in Latvia in 1974 and pursued studies in Textile Art and Scenography in Riga before completing her Masters degree at the Latvian Academy of Art in 2000. Solvita Krese sees Pormale’s studies and experience in stage design as significant in giving her the opportunity to work with other artists and arts disciplines and learn to understand and work with space.

Pormale’s work ‘Riga Dating Agency’ was created in 1999 with Gints Gabrans and was first shown at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. It shows women who have responded to an announcement by a foreigner in a newspaper and explores motivations of money as opposed to romance. The work received the Latvian Artists Union prize for the best art project in 2000. ‘Riga Dating Agency’ has since been shown in galleries and museums in Berlin, Budapest, Athens, Barcelona, Zagreb and other venues in Stockholm.

Monica Pormale works in scenography, installation, performance, photography and video. In 2001 she made a series of commercial length videos, ´Open TV´, which were broadcast for two months on Latvian television in between genuine commercials. They questioned consumer society concepts of beauty, happiness, love and communication.

In 2000 she was awarded a NIFCA, Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, residency. Monica I Pormale was shortlisted for the Visiting Arts/Spike Island International Fellowship 2002 on the nomination of Solvita Krese at LCCA.
Author: Judith Staines


Monica I Pormale is a visual artist based in Riga who has made a strong impact on the art scene in Latvia since the late 1990s.

Born in Jekabpils in Latvia in 1974, Pormale was educated in Textile Art at the Riga Applied Art College (1989-93), in Scenography at the Latvian Academy of Art (1994-98) and completed her Masters degree in 2000. She works in scenography, installations, performance, photography and video, more recently exploring interaction between film and visual art.

She has exhibited in the Baltic States, Berlin, Budapest, Stockholm, Barcelona, Zagreb and Athens. In 2000 she was awarded a NIFCA residency at the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art. She lives and works in Riga.


´Open´ subvertising campaign

Film / TV,
Seven commercial length videos shown on Latvian TV.

The Flow of Energy

Film / TV,
´Contemporary Utopia´ video installation, exhibition hall Arsenals, Riga, Latvia video shown at ´Galaxy´, Anthology Film Archives, New York


Film / TV,
Video produced at Department of Film & TV, Art Institution of Helsinki, Finland


Exhibition / Installation,
Rotermann Salt Storage, Tallinn, Estonia

Stage design work

Production / Performance,
1999 ´Art´ by Yasmina Reza, Riga New Theatre 1999 ´Smilgis House´, Riga New Theatre 1998 ´Old Fashioned Comedy´, Drama Theatre of Valmiera, Latvia 1997 Scenobox 2000, Latvian and Finnish Young Scenographers Exhibtion, Theatre Museum, Riga

Riga Dating Agency

Exhibition / Installation,
Project developed with Gints Gabrans. Exhibited: 1999 Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2000 Akademie der Kunste, Berlin 2000 Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2000 Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary 2000 Baltic Art Centre, Stockholm 2001 Contemporary Art Museum, Zagreb, Croatia 2001 ´Baltic Security´, Arlanda Airport, Stockholm 2001 ´Presence Balte´, Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre, Athens, Greece 2001 Contemporary Art Museum, Barcelona


2000 NICFA artists residency
2000 Latvian Artists Union prize for best art project - Riga Dating Agency
1999 UNESCO prize for the best student´s show - Prague Quadriennial 1999 (exhibition design)


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Spike Island International Fellowship 2002

(30 October 01 - 30 July 02)



Essay on the 1990s in Latvian art by Mara Traumane