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Group exhibition ‘On Photographic Beings’ at the Latvian National Museum of Art

‘On Photographic Beings’ explores the failure of fully grasping. The display sets out to investigate photographic beings as multidimensional, complex and often ambiguous.

Artists Evy Jokhova (UK/Estonia/Russia), Ode de Kort (Belgium) and Tom Lovelace (UK) featured in the exhibition specifically look into the various facets of the object-image relationship. This connection, which is traditionally viewed as stemming from an object and resulting in an image, is shown here to be more elaborate and intricate than it at first appears. The curator of the exhibition is artist and theorist Paulius Petraitis (LT).

Photographic images are routinely attributed a hold that is exercised over objects. It is as if the camera arrests and grasps – providing a suspended look into objecthood, which is somehow both insightful and (de)finite. In other words, the camera captures, the object seemingly left passive and defenceless in this one-way action.

The three presented artists challenge this traditional view. British artist Tom Lovelace’s work stimulates a creative dialogue between imagery and objects, and posits itself as an intervention and interruption to the space’s regular existence. Belgian artist Ode de Kort adds to this dialogue by playfully uncovering the complexities of image-based (re)presentation. She explores ways to collaborate with artworks, indicating an object and its creator can be seen as working together. Evy Jokhova, of Russian, Estonian and UK multi-cultural background, uses the concept of mirroring in her consideration of reflection, mimicry and reproduction in photography. Focusing on these processes, she proposes to look at this essential function of photography from an unexpected angle. All artists respond to the specific setting – 4th floor space of the Latvian National Museum of Art – in their suggestions to problematize the photographic capture.

The works presented in the exhibition can be described as photographic, yet sit outside of the usual boundaries of the medium. They challenge the notion of what a photography exhibition is or can be, opting to discuss the photographic as a shifting lens and a notion that is primarily cultural. Through this, On Photographic Beings not only explores the potential of a photographic work to open up the complexity of the object-to-image translation through responding to the specific space, but also investigates some of the very possibilities of photography.

On April 18th the discussion with the artists and the curator will also take place at the Latvian National Museum of Art. International contemporary art event Riga Photography Biennial 2020 that will take place from the 9th of April until 19th of July in Riga, Cēsis and Daugavpils (Latvia).

Riga Photography Biennial (RPB) is an international contemporary art event, focusing on the analysis of visual culture and artistic representation. The biennial covers issues ranging from cultural theory to current socio-political processes in the Baltics and the wider European region. Using the format of an art festival, Riga Photography Biennial attempts to record changes taking place all over the world and invites us to collectively interpret them – something we not only need to see but also imagine whilst translating the complicated and oversaturated contemporary visual language into meaningful relationships between our daily reality, the camera lens, historic material, contemporary art, technologies and the future.

First Riga Photography Biennial took place in April, 2016.