Taking place annually in the Latvian capital since 2014, Riga Photomonth showcases some of the best new photography from northern and eastern Europe
Centred around the theme of New Chic, the works on show at Riga Photomonth this May “are united by quests in the language of photography,” says curator Alnis Stakle. Raising questions about the materiality of photography, he continues, these projects also examine “individual and collective meanings and identities and the rituals of looking and showing off”.
Inka and Niclas Lindergård are showing a series titled The Belt of Venus and the Shadow of the Earth, for example, which addresses the materiality of the photograph and photography’s role in the stylisation of the landscape. Through manipulation and the use of colour flashlights “their works become an open portal to the hyperrealistic synthesis of beauty, kitsch and visual desire in the language of photography,” says Stakle, who is director of Multimedia Communication and Photography at Riga Stradins University, and a celebrated photographer in his own right (bjp-online featured his series Theory of R in March 2017).
Meanwhile, Stakle likens Kasia Bielska’s work to a staged performance, describing how she plays with representations of the body using the language of commercial photography. “It is controlled by studio lights, bizarre relationships between self-created objects and bodies, the accuracy of advertising language, and vivid scenography of colours,” he says.
Lilia Li-Mi-Yan’s Masters/servants is a typographical work focusing on capitalist society using the aesthetics of European painting. “We will never know what each of the participants in Li-Mi-Yan’s photographs feels or thinks about himself or herself on an everyday basis and in the images,” says Stakle. “Yet we can notice the presence of the showing-off game, which has become so integral in the age of visuality.”
Slava Mogutin is exhibiting works from his book, Bros & Brosephines, which contains 240 works made between 2000 and 2015, and offers an intimate visual perspective on the body and identity. “Mogutin is not a mere voyeuristic observer,” Stakle says. “Primarily, his works reveal a personal story,” that is, the artist’s forced migration from Russia to the US because of his homosexuality.
Maija Tammi’s Volunteer 4 is an arts-based research project produced in collaboration with biology professor Robert B Silver from Syracuse University. For the project, Tammi photographs experiments with freshwater polypuses and their ability to regenerate. Stakle says, “Tammi’s photographic evidence of the experiments functions as a grotesque and sentimental message on the boundaries of cognition and melancholia in endless quests for immortality.”
Visvaldas Morkevičius is showing his latest project Portraitzine, Issue Remigijus Praspaliauskas, which comprises a series of autoethnographic photographs exploring contemporary lifestyles; Laura Kuusk’s Untitled Yet merges virtual reality, photography and video culminating in a 360 degree video which aims to take viewers on a choreographic trip.
Steffen Kloster Poulsen’s Souls IV: The Cave is a collection of street photographs depicting people using mobile phones in public spaces. Rephotographed from mobile screens to emphasise the pixels, the photos are presented on light boxes which interactively react to movement, highlighting the interdependency of humans and technologies.
Reinis Lismanis’ Comfort Aware is related to the technical codes of the language of photography, and Andrejs Lavrinovics’ Chromatic Disappointment combines various media to produce work that Stakle says is like “a code of open software which can be downloaded, updated and shared with anyone.”
Irina Popova’s The Incomplete Princess Book is a compilation of 8000 images of other Irina Popovas registered on the social network Vkontakte, and for Ten Past Ten, Marge Monko takes inspiration from visual adverts for watches on eBay to explore messages perpetrated by the media.
Riga Photomonth opens on 09 May 2018. The festival’s public programme includes exhibitions, artist talks, workshops, lectures and film screenings, plus portfolio reviews and workshops for professionals. rigasfotomenesis.lv