If, for example, São Paulo (Brazil) has Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante as the place for the cutting-edge creative photography during the postwar years, then Riga (Latvia) has photo club "Riga." In the 1960s, it became one of the leading photo clubs in the Soviet Union, part of which Latvia was back then. I have studied this organization for many years and have discussed the significance of the photo club "Riga" in detail in my book The Photograph as Art in Latvia. 1960-1969 (Riga: Neputns, 2011).
This year, marking the 55th anniversary of the club, the Latvian Museum of Photography organized an exhibition History of the Photo Club "Riga" (August 31 - October 22, 2017).
It was a great honor to be invited by the curatorial team led by Daiga Jamonte to contribute to the exhibition preparation in different stages of the process. The most visible part of my contribution is the wall text which introduced the exhibition. I think it adequately summarizes the role of the photo club "Riga."
Photography can be art – many photographers around the world believed in it during the early 1960s. Yet in Latvia, as in many other countries, this art did not have a place in art museums and galleries, academies and universities. The Photo Club “Rīga”, founded in February of 1962, was committed to creating an environment where photography could develop as an art form. The club became a creative hub attracting the most remarkable personalities. Their works shaped the understanding of art photography of that time. The photo club’s activities during the next decades illustrate the changes in this understanding. Today, when art photography has many new forms and creative challenges, the then legendary club still has its own niche in Latvian culture.