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Inta Ruka – My Country People

Opening January 13 at 17-20
Artist talk with Inta Ruka on the opening night at 18.15
In rummet [format] are we exhibiting the films Fotografen från Riga and Vägens Ände by Maud Nycander
The exhibitions is open January 14 – March 5 2017

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Inka Ruka is one of Latvias foremost documentary photographers. With great warmth and respect for the individual, she has for over three decades portrayed people from her home country. Her attending and carefully composed pictures tells the story of the difficulties, but also the joys and happiness of life.

Ruka has a special ability to create a mutual connection with other people. She talks with people on the street, in the line to the bathroom or at the kiosk, and makes them tell her about their life. In her photographs, the trust in the unfeigned eyes of the portrayed is visible when they are looking straight into the camera without trying to embellish or protect themselves. Ruka photographs people’s everyday life, often in their home or local environment. The portraits are close and personal, but combined, the pictures narrate the story of a time and a way of living, which are soon disappearing in Europe.

At Fotogalleriet [format] we are exhibiting around 50 pictures from two series: My Country People and Dainas Life. Both are photographed in and around Ruka’s mother’s home town Balvi in eastern Latvia, approximately 35 km from the Russian border. The series My Country People was started in 1982 when she decided to follow the local postman around on a bike. She got to know the inhabitants of the area and for eight years she portrayed the people she met. In the exhibition, Rukas short stories of these people are written by hand with pencil directly on the wall under the photographs. The series Dainas life is a narrative of Daina Tavare and her children Edgar and Iveta, who lives in the countryside outside Balvi. We also meet Dainas sister Ligita who works with the postal service and often visits. Ruka photographed the family for many years and in these pictures, we get to follow life’s different occurrences and ever changing circumstances.

Ruka photographs analogue with a Rolleiflex camera and develops the pictures in the darkroom in her basement. Her works has often been compared to Swedish photographer Sune Jonsson who documented the depopulation of the inlands of Västerbotten in the sixties, but also to German August Sander and American Dorothea Lange.

In Rummet [format] we are showing two films by Swedish documentarist Maud Nycander. Fotografen från Riga ( The photographer from Riga) is a loving portrait of Ruka’s life and artistic oeuvre. Since the middle of the nineties, they have been close friends and in the film, Nycander also shows the difference of conditions in their background and upbringing. In Vägens ände, Nycander revisits Daina Tavare, who now lives all alone far out in the countryside. She lives in a ramshackle house with no electricity or running water, 3 km from the nearest road. In both films, Nycander recounts the story of a Latvia going through big changes and trying to recover after the fall of the dictatorship of the Soviet Union.

In a time, when xenophobia has a firm grasp of Sweden and the western world in general, both Inta Ruka’s honest portraits and Nycanders personal films shows, that all people carries within them a life story that deserves to be told with sincerity and seriousness.

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Inta Ruka (b. 1958) lives and works in Riga, Latvia. She is a self taught photographer and she got her big breakthrough in 1999, when she represented Latvia at the Venice Biennial. Her photographs have been exhibited in a large number of museums and art halls around Europe, among other A Way of Life – Swedish Photography from Christer Strömholm until Today at Moderna Museet Stockholm and Malmö (2014), You and Me at Fotografiska Stockholm (2013) and Amalias Street 5 at Latvian National Museum and Art, Riga (2009) In 2012, she published the book People I know from the publishing company Max Ström.

Maud Nycander (b. 1960) lives and works in Stockholm. She is one of Sweden’s most high profile documentary film-maker. She also works as a still photographer. She is responsible for many celebrated documentaries, for instance Nunnan (2007), which was awarded a Guldbagge in 2008 for best documentary and Palme (2012), which she edited together with Kristina Lindström. The film was shown in over 110 cinemas around Sweden and is the most viewed Swedish documentary so far. In 2012, she was awarded the Swedish Arts Grants Committee ten-year scholarship.