For more than two decades, Latvian photographer Inta Ruka has photographed the people of Latvia to provide an undisguised view on the current state of flux in Latvia since its integration into the European Union. From 1984 to 2000, she photographed primarily in the rural area of Balvi and, later on, increasingly in the capital of Riga. In the series “People I happened to meet”, she strikes up conversations with unknown people in order to ask them for a portrait. In “Amalias Street 5”, she focused on the inhabitants of an apartment complex in Riga. Her photographs have been shown at the 48th Biennale of Venice, the Photography Centre in Istanbul and the Barbican Arts Centre in London.
Two special film screenings will coincide with Inta Ruka’s visit: Photographer from Riga, a documentary profile of Ruka, screens at 7:00 pm, Tuesday, November 4 at UMMA; and Road’s End, a documentary about one of Ruka’s subjects, screens at 7:30 pm, Thursday, November 6 after Ruka’s lecture at the Michigan Theater.
Photographer from Riga
7:00 pm Tuesday, November 4 at UMMA (Helmut Stern Auditorium)
Inta Ruka is one of Europe’s most noteworthy documentary photographers. For thirty years she has taken hauntingly beautiful portraits of the faces of Latvia. In this documentary, Swedish filmmaker Maud Nycander portrays her friend and colleague who, despite her renown, still works as a cleaner at the Swedish embassy in Riga. The documentary also depicts a country in the throes of dramatic change.
7:30 pm, Thursday, November 6 at the Michigan Theater
Swedish filmmaker Maud Nycander collaborated with Inta Ruka on this documentary film that follows the life of Daina, the protagonist in Ruka’s photograph “Edgars, Iveta, Daina Tavari”, and her dog, George Bush. Daina lives in a poor rural area in eastern Latvia, near the Russian border, two miles from the nearest road, with no electricity or running water. The roof has collapsed. She is completely dependent upon herself in order to cope with her everyday life. Daina’s children have both emigrated, her son to Norway and her daughter to Italy. When she feels lonely, she goes to her dead husband’s grave and sits there talking with him as if he were still alive. Road’s End is a both poetic and existential film about choices we make in life, about obstinacy, love and betrayal.
With support from the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies; the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies; the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), and the River Gallery.
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