Crossing the Baltic Sea by night, the Riga-Stockholm ferry transforms into something of a party boat. Karaoke, dance performances, arcades, and a disco hall are all on board at bargain prices — and for young Latvians, the journey and the brief escape it offers has become a right of passage. Cruise, the latest photo book from Ieva Raudsepa, published by Milda Books, is a coming-of-age story that draws its inspiration from the photographer’s own school memories of taking the ferry with friends. She later frequented the same route to shoot its young passengers.
Raudsepa first had her idea for the project in 2014 — 10 years since Latvia joined the EU. That date didn’t seem relevant early on, but became significant as the project developed.
“Latvia joined the EU in 2004 when we were all teenagers,” Raudsepa explains. “I’m interested in the awkwardness of what it means to be young and living in a state of both personal and societal transition, and how that can be portrayed through people and landscape.”
In Cruise, the Baltic Sea appears as not just a physical landscape but a metaphorical liminal space. “I think we’re living through a crazy time, when everything seems to be constantly shifting,” the photographer says. Though the story is focused on Latvia’s youth, today the photos could stand for an entire European population caught adrift as a result of the UK’s attempt to break away from the European Union. Looking at these photos in 2019, you cannot help but ask where its young people are headed.