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Kristīne Madjare

In her photographs Kristīne Madjare (1987) focuses on herself. She commenced her creative work with theatrical self-portraits, but the last two years she has spent working on the documentary project Inland dedicated to her hometown Skrunda. This remote town in Latvia, according to the author, is characterised by silence, empty landscape, hard and laborious work and weather conditions that determine the pace of life. Madjare has studied photography at the Tartu Art College, but currently lives in Riga and works as a freelance photographer.

Why do you photograph?

At the moment it is the only way I can exist and develop. I’m attracted to photography’s ability to cross the time and my ability to influence it. Photography leads me to things and people, and has made me visit so many different places that I would never discover and see unless I was a photographer.

The unifying element of all your series is yourself and your personal experience. How do you pick the subjects for your photo series?

Mostly intuitively. It is difficult to speak about something unfamiliar and unknown, while I haven’t explored myself, my land and culture. At the moment I’m very interested in these subjects.

Before I start photographing, I think carefully about each idea. It was very similar with the Skrunda project. I knew a long time ago that I want to make a photo series about Skrunda, I was waiting for the right moment which coincided with my graduation and return to Latvia two years ago.

What makes Skrunda different from other cities of Latvia?

It does not differ. Skrunda is a simple little town in Latvia, which you can drive through in three minutes, at the same time managing to see the most popular tourist spots. Skrunda is not the place, where to go to see some architectural, artistic or natural monuments. Here you see woods, bushes, untouched meadows, many fish ponds and a river. The simplicity and peace is what attracts me. On the other hand, Skrunda has something remarkable, too. It is the youngest town in Latvia, because it was officially announced only in 1996. For many people, this place associates with the former Skrunda locator.

In what way did you benefit from studies in Tartu and could you advise this school to others who want to study photography?

Studies in Tartu have given me an opportunity to express myself, to seek, to create and to take photographs a lot. During these four years I took everything that I needed, although not everything seemed completely qualitative. It is a good school, although it is not easy to study there. The biggest problem is the language, because all lectures take place in Estonian. Thus, in order to study at the Tartu Art College, one must learn Estonian. This aspect must be definitely taken into account.

What projects are you working on currently?

I am still continuing work on the Skrunda series. This summer I was planning to start work on a new photo series that to some degree will be related to Skrunda, however this time it will focus on people of my age. They are young people who have chosen or have no other choice but to stay there, settle down and make families.