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Karlīna Vītoliņa’s self-portrait

Karlīna Vītoliņa’s Solo Exhibition “Portraits” at Art Festival “Cēsis 2013” 0


“Karlīna Vītoliņa. Portraits”, Art Festival “Cēsis 2013”
Cēsis Printshop, Cēsis
June 28 – July 31, 2013

On the current photography scene, Karlīna Vītoliņa (1982) is still a relative newcomer. Although her pictures have often been published in the local style magazines, a first solo show always represents an intrigue that is so pleasant to investigate.  

The photo exhibition “Portraits’’ will be on view from June 28 until July 31 in the former Cēsis Printing House, which is a new territory in the program of art festival “Cēsis 2013”, being the first exhibition held there.

Vītoliņa studied photography at FAMU in Prague, graduating in 2011. Before that she was student at London’s St Martins College of Arts and Design and the Faculty of History and Philosophy at the University of Latvia. For a while, she was also a photographer in Paris. This background has made Karlīna a cosmopolitan who is flexible and open to the world, capable of looking at it without provincial complexes. Asked what is the departure point of the pictures she takes, Karlīna quotes Jim Jarmusch: "Nothing is original. Steel from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversation, architectures, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal that speaks directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don't bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: It's not where you take things from - it's where you take them to." She adds that Jarmusch has played a decisive role in her visual world, as has Jean Cocteau, Lucino Visconti, Wim Wenders, and the French New Wave.

Whilst preparing for the exhibition, Karlīna Vītoliņa found time to talk to about the upcoming show, why it is important to organise the first solo show now, and what, in her opinion, defines a successful portrait.

Tell us what we will be able to see in the exhibition.

There will be 70 portraits on view at the exhibition. The location – the former Cēsis Printing House – is perfect; when I saw it, I knew that I have been given the honour to fill this vast space with my works and to create an atmosphere. Of course, it is also a huge responsibility. 

Black-and-white images, large-scale print; it will be something unseen and impressive, interesting and elegant – as a black-and-white dream, a movie. As I have been taking photographs for more than ten years there is now enough accumulated to share; the character in the environment has always influenced me. The works for this exhibition have been created within the last half-year. I could photograph something eclectic, colourful, but I am more fascinated by the cleanliness of the black-and-white. That’s how I wanted to see this exhibition – classic and contemporary at the same time.

Related article: Express interview with Juris Žagars, the director of art festival “Cēsis 2013”

How do you feel before the opening of your first solo exhibition? As you have been taking photographs already for a long time, why are you making this exhibition now?

I feel like in a cosmos. I think that this is the right time for me as I have something to say to the viewer and to myself. Anyway, I have been very lucky to be in this process. A big thank you should be said to the art festival “Cēsis 2013”.

How would you define a successful portrait?

A portrait is successful, when it reflects the mysterious. I love the mysterious, and I am interested in the unexposed sides of life, which to cognize and understand... it is like a magnet.

A portrait is successful, when you have achieved to document the essence of the current moment. I take into consideration the profession, lifestyle – everything that is possible to know about the portrayed, and, of course, I am happy to add, what I believe suits best. You get something of a “magical realism”, if borrowing the comparison from Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Often I am pursuing staged photography, but it cannot be entirely false fiction, because at that moment it is still a true story about the portrayed… Even, if it creates a false impression of the person. 

Most importantly, an image should possess magic, some real mystery; a frozen moment, which continues to be, to remind of something, sometimes giving an opportunity to realise something or to see things differently. 

What should a photographer never forget?

A photographer should never forget that he is responsible for the visual material reproduced. Specially, when living in the society, he cannot forget to be objectively truthful to the existing moment being captured.

Many take shots, but only a few are photographing. A real master, when being in the one-and-only moment critical to press the shutter, can hold all the aspects in his memory.

How important for you is to travel and to see the world? Can you imagine yourself living in the same city for many, many years?

It is very important for me to travel and to see the world. To live all my life in the same city almost seems impossible to me. Maybe at the old age somewhere in the Sothern Italy, encircled by blooming orange trees and with diamond rings on my fingers, Rolleiflex camera around my neck and the closest people around. Or somewhere near the Andes…

The diversity of cultures has always fascinated me. I was born in Riga, have lived in Prague and Paris, and in every one of these places I have gained something. In Paris I learned about the society’s attitude towards one another and other cues important to life, which are impossible to feel and understand whilst living permanently in Riga. In Prague, however, I learned what is photography, what is the beauty in photography, – it was a harsh, an academic, but a very valuable experience.