Iveta Vaivode

Somewhere on Disappearing Path


I’ve always been fascinated with family albums. I grew up looking at my parent’s family albums, imagining their lives before me. Trying to reconstruct the memories that I didn’t have, but at the same time living them over and over again in my imagination. Somehow I always felt that the people I saw in these amateur photographs were different from those I saw close to me every day. I felt that photographs, although connected with a certain historical past, worked better as triggers of my own imagination, rather than giving me a specific knowledge of anything else.



The ambivalence of the medium of photography, its possibilities and its limitations suggest we should mistrust photography as a record of our lives and histories. Yet there are numerous photographic works that deal with the concept of memory, in which artists become poets rather than historians.

For the last year, I have documented people from a remote village called Pilcene in the Eastern side part of Latvia. My work addresses the idea of looking back as a framing device and a narrative mode. Searching for the last traces of my family in this village, I chase after the people who used to know my grandmother. Through their stories I see the life that has vanished, although most of people still live the way their ancestors used to. In a way, this place has become their lifestyle; one which I feel, is going to disappear soon.

By photographing the life and people of my grandmother’s childhood village I try to recreate the place I never had chance to know. Yet people I met now work as a mirror with a memory helping to reveal the past of my own family.




I grew up in Riga, Latvia. Having started my photographic career as a fashion photographer, for the past four years I have turned my sight towards more personal projects. In 2008, I received a BA in photography from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth (England). My photographs have been exhibited in Latvia, Lithuania, U.K., France, China and Belgium. I’m also a recipient of the following awards: AOP Student Photographer of the Year (2007); Nikon Discovery Awards (2008) and c/o Berlin Talents (2013).


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Iveta Vaivode



6 thoughts on “Iveta Vaivode – Somewhere on Disappearing Path”

  1. I don’t really resonate with this essay. The photos seem to formal, too constructed. And, while I don’t know what they were shot with, they look too “digital,” and I’m all in with digital, so this isn’t something I usually criticize. This just doesn’t work for me.

  2. Very nice, sensitive, quiet images; poetry not history, not journalism, but still documentation. What strikes most about this essay winning an award here, as with the others, is that in the past, perhaps still in other competitions, it would most likely have been drowned out and slipped down the line, by much louder essays blatantly focused upon the dark aspects of human nature.

  3. Fine, beautiful portraits with a touch of well-lit mystery; I especially like #20. The family album idea works for me, although I wonder if that presentation was considered before or after the trip to Pilcene? Maybe the village is in its death throws, not much is actually happening there, and the photographer had to resort to boiler-plate portrait making.

    Hate to say this, but in this essay I’m still searching for the unique, emerging voice expected of the finalists.

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