I was born in 1946, the first year after the World War
II. My parents just survived hardships of evacuation and
returned back home to Riga, then under Soviet occupation.
I grew up among Russian speaking population of Latvia,
and Russian culture become my root culture.
I graduated from the technical college as aviation engineer
but never worked as such, instead I joined Riga Motion
Studios as a designer of equipment for special effects.
I was in my early twenties and mostly ignorant about art.
At this time social realism was an official culture of
the country and I did not care about it too much. Information
about modern western art was hardly available and my knowledge
of it was highly limited.
I started to photograph when I was nineteen, driven by
desire to create my own personal style and vision. I was
involved in portraiture and did some documentary shots,
but soon realized the results did not satisfy me. I put
my camera aside and concentrated on reading (Dostoevsky,
Bulgakov) and cinematography (Tarkovsky, Parajanov). I
was constantly looking for the way to express my personal
feelings and thoughts using photography. One year later
it came to me clear and simple. I decided to photograph
Concepts. In 1972 I created my first, and most important
image - Confession. I instantly recognized the potential
possibilities of conceptual approach and the knowledge
acquired from this image become a backbone of the work
I have produced since.
In 1974, after years of disgust with communist authorities,
I left my country and arrived in USA.
Conventional versus Conceptual
Do I point my camera outwards to the existing world or
turn it inward towards my soul. Am I taking photographs
of existing reality or creating my own world, so real
but non-existent. Results from these two opposite approaches
are notably different and, in my opinion, conceptual photography
is a higher form of artistic expression that places photography
on the level of painting, poetry, music and sculpture.
It employs the special talent of intuitive vision. By
translating the personal concepts into the language of
photography, it reflects the possible answers to major
questions of being: birth, death and life. Creating an
idea and transforming it into reality is an essential
process of conceptual photography.
Today's conventional approach, with a few exceptions,
completely dominates Art Photography. But introduction
of digital photography can change this balance. The ease
of producing altered realities, will bring a new wave
of talented artists, who will use it to express their
special world of visions, with all its meanings, symbols
and mystery. In a world of high technology will you still
believe in truthfulness of a photograph? And does it matter?
To me it matters. In all these years of creating conceptual
images, I tried to make them as realistic as possible.
My technical abilities have improved, allowing me to broaden
horizons for my ideas.
But this is not the most important part of the process.
The poor concept, perfectly executed, still makes a poor
photograph. Therefore, the most important ingredient of
the powerful image is a concept. The blend of a talent
to create a concept and the skill to deliver it - those
are two major building blocks of creating a convincing
It is not a new idea to manipulate photographic images.
As a matter of fact all images are manipulated to a certain
degree. The real power of photography emerges when altered
reality is presented as existent and is expected to be
perceived as such. An obviously manipulated image is a
trick that shows a lack of understanding of the unique
power of photography - the belief engraved in our subconscious
that what was captured by the camera has to exist. In
the best examples of successfully manipulated images the
question "Is it real?" does not arise.
My first introduction to digital manipulations showed
me how similar analog and digital techniques are. Each
has its bright and dark spots. At this moment I don't
see any reason to switch to digital. I still prefer glowing
quality of original print and the laborious process to
achieve it. Yet, I believe, that it is only matter of
time before digital technology replaces analog and the
conceptual approach will receive well deserved place in
Art of Photography. I also want to believe that, many
years from now, artists will continue to develop the language
of photography, understanding and preserving its unique
Exposiciones Individuales / Selected Solo Exhibitios
Everson Museum of Arts, Syracuse, USA
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, USA
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, USA
North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, USA
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, USA
Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City, USA
Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, USA
Colecciones Destacadas / Selected Collections
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan
International Museum of Photography, Rochester, USA
Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris, France
Toledo Museum of Arts, Ohaio, USA
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, USA
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA
Dennos Museum Center, Northwestern Michigan College, USA
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, USA
Premios Destacados / Selected Awards
National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Artist Grant
Minnesota State Arts Board, Photography Fellowship
Michigan Council for the Arts, Creative Artist Grant
Michigan Arts Award, Art Foundation of Michigan
FIAP Gold Medal, 18 Salon International d'Art Photographique,
Niepce Medal, Salon International d'Art Photographique,
PSA Gold Medal, 22 International Salon of Photography, Bordeaux,
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