Silent witness: photographs from the Latvian edge

3 February 2015

Despite the stillness of its title, Katrina Kepule’s series Sit Silently is a journey: a voyage around the outskirts of Riga and the neighbouring towns, and a search for Latvia’s national identity in a rapidly changing world. The photographer’s main focus is the moments when contemporary Europe collides with different layers of the Latvian past (like the Soviet era or the National Awakening periods) — conflicting and complementing each other. Surreal and seemingly unrelated images create a fragmented emotional narrative, a visual map of the edge of Europe. “If one looks from the East”, writes Kepule, “Kengarags is on the periphery of Riga, Latgale [the region] is on the periphery of Latvia, and Latvia is on the periphery of Europe”. This peripheral feeling is one of the central points of the project and a key to its title: up on the periphery, sitting silently observing the world might be the best thing to do. “The title of the series is an abbreviation of a piece from so-called Google Poetics,” explains Kepule. “It consists of phrases that are popularly searched on the internet and are associated with the concept of sitting: “Sit silently/Sit silently doing nothing/We sit silently and watch the world/We sit silently and watch.”