/ Zīle Liepiņš / Photo story

No One Says Anything

This documentary photo essay examines everyday life in the transitory political present of Latvia. At the same time, the work represents personal reflection and reconciliation of my living in and away from Latvia from 2004–2015. Growing up in the large Latvian immigrant community in Toronto, my life was saturated with Latvian folklore. My vision of “my fatherland” was shaped by my grandmother’s stories, dusty history books and folk songs. In 2004, I moved to Latvia to seek my own contemporary reality. The years 2004-2010 saw great collective, economic and emotional highs and lows. Latvia joined the EU in 2004, and 2008 marked an effusive high in spending and celebration, followed by a sobering crash which led to my difficult decision to leave Latvia in 2010 (yet, since my departure, I have returned at all costs for two months a year). In 2008, over the Summer Solstice (Jāņi) on the coast, in Ziemupe, near Liepaja, I picked up my old analogue camera again and have been using it ever since. Looking through the lens helped to make sense of this land, at once both familiar and foreign, and to document a time that will never return, both politically and personally.

For a North American audience, the work draws attention to a country that viewers know little about, offering knowledge and raising awareness of the region beyond Ukraine — at a time when Russia and its possible threat to the Baltic States is making headlines worldwide. On a personal level, it is a journal of markers through which I process the years I lived in Latvia, a reconciliation of family histories against modern realities, and a secret love letter to that time and the people in it, who will recognize the places and moments captured in the images and recall the memories associated with them.

Zīle Liepiņš (aka Zile Zile) is a Latvian Canadian photographer and graphic artist based in Toronto. She earned a BA in Visual Studies and French from the University of Toronto and studied Applied Arts in Paris, France. Her exhibition No One Says Anything, Everyone Remembers Everything runs from 1 – 31 May, 2015 at Ryerson Artspace as part of 2015 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto.