Photo project

Amnesia: Post-Soviet Latvia as Seen in a Project by Arnis Balkus

Latvian photographer Arnis Balkus recreates subjects and themes of the Soviet era in order to prevent collective amnesia.

Arnis Balkus, 36 years old

Latvian photographer. Born and lives in Riga. Studied communications at university in Latvia and photography at the University of Westminster in London. Editor for FK Magasine, co-founder and organizer of “Riga’s Month in Photography” festival.

I began work on this project in 2008. While I was on a trip to Moldova, I noticed that many places there remind me of my childhood. There were some artifacts there that restored my memories and I was shocked because I hadn’t remembered these things for years. In 1991, Latvia got its independence, and for several years we simply rejected the symbols, statues, and everyday things that indicated our inclusion in the Soviet Union. History was rewritten – the politics, economics, and individuality of the first Latvian republic were christened at the same time when the role of the USSR in our country’s history was reduced to nothing. Actually, collective amnesia has become a norm during times of sweeping political change, and in this case entire generations, with their culture and usual life, just disappear from social memory. With the help of this project, I tried to fill this gap at least a little bit.

I believe that people will react to these photos in different ways. For the people of Eastern Europe these are individual memories of our shared past. For others, there’s a chance to get some pleasure out of seeing the hidden moments that are captured in the pictures.

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