Some of the Latvian sculptors working in these specialized frozen-water media have previously been crowned champions at the Harbin festival two years in a row. This year Kārlis Īle, Maija Puncule, Mintauts Buškevics and Ainars Zingniks will represent not just their own country, but also the EU as a whole, as Latvia has just currently assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Harbin ice and snow sculpture show is one of the largest events of its kind in the world, gathering thousands of artists each winter from across the globe. Numerous local and international contests take place as part of the festival, including the two International Snow and Ice Sculpture contests won by the Latvians in 2011 and 2012.
In 2011 Īle and Buškevics took the world championship title with their ice-bound depiction of the story of Alice in Wonderland. The following year Īle took home second-place prize in the Ice Sculpture Contest with his composition “The Book of Life.” In the 2012 Snow Sculpture Contest Īle worked together with Agnese Rudzīte-Kirillova and Maija Puncule to win the top award for their work “Dreamers.”
Each team, allowed up to two participants for the ice sculpture and four for the snow sculpture contest, is allotted a certain-sized block of the respective medium and three days to complete the miraculous rendition using various tools and techniques.
In light of their previous success at the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, the participation of the Latvians this year has been included as part of the culture program for Latvia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU.