Published by Talka, 2017
Essay by Vadim Agapov
Limited edition of 500 copies
170 x 240 mm
Andrejs Strokins (b.1984) is a photographer based in Riga, Latvia. He holds a BA degree in graphic printmaking from the Art Academy of Latvia. In 2006, he started work as a professional photographer for AFI press photo agency. Andrejs’ interest in long-term documentary projects increased after taking part in ISSP summer workshops in 2009. Since 2011, he has worked on a freelance basis, and continues to pursue documentary projects based on the daily life of ordinary people. His work has been recognized by numerous awards, including Top 50 LensCulture Emerging Talents 2014, La Quatrième Image, and Kaunas Photo Star 2013. In 2016 was among the selected photographers of the annual call Foam Talents.
A few month ago the creative collective «Orbita» has released «Palladium» its first photo book from the series «Public Space», focused on the public spaces of Latvia during the Soviet era. The author of this book is the photographer Andrejs Strokins, born in Riga in 1984. The work starts from the discovery of the photographic archive of the Palladium movie theater. In the Soviet times the cinema was a cultural palace that hosts ballet shows, conferences and of course movies, but it was also used as a propaganda tool. The unknown author of these photographs was probably a worker at Palladium, taking pictures as documentation of the everyday activities of the structure. In order to better understand this photographic genre and the choices that lies behind it, I asked Andrejs a few questions about it.
Mariella Amabili (M.A.) - Nowadays in the art photography scene it is quite common practice to use vernacular images as a starting point to tell stories. Why do you think archive pictures replace in a way the creation of new ones?
Andrejs Strokins (A.S.) - Collecting vernacular images is my passion. I am focusing on Latvia and its recent history. You can say such banalities that there are too much images in the world. Why create new ones? But in the end it boils down to your gut feeling. I think this archival material is interesting enough to be shown publicly.
(M.A.) - Why do you think this kind of research arouse such an interest?
(A.S.) - Vernacular stuff has been used since late 60's by various artist. I guess it became common practice as photography language advanced to digital era. In the current situation, the power of a single image is devaluated by the amount of visual information available, so it becomes less important who and how made the image but in the same it is extremely important to find a meaning and connections between images. So many artists are doing exactly that.
(M.A.) - In a recent interview with The Calvert Journal you said that "People have always had the urge to put information together". Is from this point of view that you created “Palladium”?
(A.S.) - It is general thread to how humans perceive information. The book is about cinema as a propaganda tool, but I didn’t want to put it in words literally. In many cases text is much stronger than images and you have only one way how to read a book.
(M.A.) - How did you come in contact with this archive?
(A.S.) - A friend of mine found rolls of negatives in a abandoned flat in Riga and gave them to me as a present. It took me three years to digitalize the entire archive and figure out what to do with them.
(M.A.) - Is there a concept behind the edit of the images or is it just the way you find it?
(A.S.) - Palladium archive was found in huge rolls of negatives, so the edit and sequence of the images is just my interpretation.
(M.A.) - When you first saw the pictures, what was your first thoughts? What kind of story stood out in your mind?
(A.S.) - At a first glance I didn’t know that all images came from a cinema theatre, but they were funny and weird. The most moving images were those that showed everyday life of simple people as images with kissing couple.