Tina Remiz is a Latvian photographer living in London. Her series The Place Where I Am Not, about the consequences of the economic crisis in Latvia, has already been published in several European photography magazines. The project was recently awarded the main prize in the Document 2011 competition. The series was created on three trips to Latvia during the past year. It portrays Tina’s friends, relatives, passers-by, the unemployed or the participants of the 100 LVL job programme. All of these people are directly or indirectly connected to Tina’s memories of her home and reflect Latvia’s social surroundings.
How did you end up in England and what are you doing there?
Like many Latvians, I went to England straight after high school, and enrolled at the University of Bristol. I left Latvia in the autumn of 2008, a few months before the economic crisis and this is something of great significance in my work. Not being entirely satisfied with the quality of the education, after two years I parted with the city and the University and went to try my luck in the English capital, where I now live and work as a journalist and a photographer.
How did you get the idea for the project The Place Where I Am Not, and why did it seem important to you to talk about the social problems triggered by the economic crisis?
During these past years I’ve been to places like China and Iraq, but I’ve always had the feeling that everything has already been said, and that there are always people who know about these places more, who stay longer and who dig deeper… I’ve always been against the so-called parachute journalism. I wanted to make photo-essays and not first-impression albums… Then I remembered that there was a country where a lot has happened, but too little has been said (at least in the Western media). So I decided to go back home to photograph the economic crisis. A lot has changed since that time, other themes have become more important and personal. The work developed very organically, without any unnecessary effort or worrying about what, where and how to photograph. This wasn’t some random country, people or processes, it was a part of my life.
How, in your opinion, has Latvia changed during the time you’ve been away?
It’s a complex question, which, I hope, I have answered with my photographs. Working on this project, the most difficult thing was to determine and to separate the changes related to the economic crisis from those which merely are traces of time; how much have the places and the people changed, and how much have I?
Can you name some photographers whose work inspired you the most?
This depends on the project. During these past years I’ve been looking at photographers who work in the Eastern Europe and in Russia, but who don’t follow the stereotypes, but rather create complex works. For a long time I’ve been inspired by Jonas Bendiksen, George Georgiou, Donald Weber, Tomas Dezso. Certainly also Alexander Gronsky and Iveta Vaivode. Lately I’ve been increasingly looking at the work of women photographers, being inspired by Olivia Arthur, Lise Sarfati, Dana Pope, Anastasia Taylor-Lind, Mona Simon and others. I must definitely mention Zhe Chen – a 22-year old Chinese photographer who has just received the prestigious Inge Morath award for her stunning photo-essay Bees. And she is of my age!
What will be your next project?
I have just finished this one, so now I am selecting my next subject. Doing this is as pleasant as planning a holiday or ordering a dinner at a restaurant. And just as complicated. The Place Where I Am Not series has just been awarded the prestigious Document 2011 prize, which will give me the opportunity to create the next project in cooperation with the charity organization War on Want, which fights poverty in third world countries.