/ Reinis Hofmanis / Photo story

Garden on the island

I first arrived in Lucavsala 5 years ago. It was a cold winter evening, and it seemed a degraded area. Now, after many visits, it has revealed itself in a completely different way. A place forgotten by the city and authorities. Public awareness of its importance has been raised along with the plans of selling. What Lucavsala is now, is made up of people who reside there. Nearly everything that happens in Lucavsala could be described as self-initiative and DIY. It is like one big garden surrounded by water, which has been maintained by the locals as well as they can.

The future of Lucavsala is uncertain, the land has an undetermined status. The lease contracts in Lucavsala are concluded for one year. It is a temporary oasis for those who have settled there. However, several parties are involved in deciding its fate. This place has its own history and even if it does not contain cultural and historical movements, it has a cultural and historical role in itself. It is an autonomous part of Riga, where life is happening and which is quite the same as it used to be several decades ago. Solitary, self-sufficient, secluded for an incidental or unexpected visitor, yet busy and goal-orientated. Those, who live here, are aware of the restrictions of the area. Some of them adapt and introduce new solutions, whereas some ignore them in order to survive. Uncertainty does not diminish people’s enthusiasm to improve the area and inhabit it according to their needs. Uncertainty facilitates creativity, but creativity – a certain feeling of rootedness and a sense of belonging to the place that you have created on your own.

Reinis Hofmanis (1985) has studied photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover, Germany and obtained a master’s degree in the Department of Visual Communication of the Latvian Academy of Arts. Hofmanis won the main prize at Archifoto in 2012 and won 2nd place in the Sony World Photography Awards Architecture category in 2012 and 2013. His works have been published in such publications as the New York Times, Financial Times, Spiegel, Esquire, Le Monde, etc., as well as in the FK’s publications Latvian Photography, Latvian Landscape and Sense of Place. This photo series is part of the virtual photo exhibition Atstatuvums.