On Photographic Beings
Exhibition of the Riga Photography Biennial 2020
From 3 October to 8 November, the Cupola Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga (Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1) will host "On Photographic Beings", an exhibition of the Riga Photography Biennial 2020.

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.


An exhibition of the Riga Photography Biennial 2020 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 Lithuanian artist and theorist Paulius Petraitis.


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 – 5th floor Cupola Hall 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, project 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.



The 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.


International contemporary art event Riga Photography Biennial 2020 will take place from 29 May until 8 November in Riga, Cēsis and Daugavpils (Latvia).


Text by Pauļus Petraitis




Riga Photography Biennial in cooperation with the Latvian National Museum of Art



State Culture Capital Foundation, Riga City Council, Rixwell Hotel, Lux Express, Printing house ADverts, Hibnerstudio, Arterritory, LSM, Satori, Punctum, magazine IR, Literatūra ir menas (LT), Latvijas Radio, Radio NABA



Paulius Petraitis, artist, theorist / Lithuania



Mārīte Lempa / Riga Photography Biennial 2020



Līna Birzaka-Priekule, Exhibition Curator / Latvian National Museum of Art



Anna Pūtele, Curator of Education / Latvian National Museum of Art



Signe Valtiņa, Head of Communication / Riga Photography Biennial 2020




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