Waiting Room
01/04 - 07/06/2015

In French - NL versie


Ieva Epnere, from series Waiting Room, 2013-2014, 55 x 67,5 cm

Brussels has about one million inhabitants. It is one of the most international cities in the world.
27% of the population is made up of foreigners, not including those who have taken Belgian citizenship. People of foreign origin make up nearly 70% of the cities’ population. 32% of the inhabitants are of foreign European origin, 36% of another background. Statistics tell a lot, and then again hardly anything at all.

Walking along the streets in Brussels, Ieva Epnere met citizens, migrants, people in parks reading books, children playing, families having a picknick.

Her photographs depict these scenes, but also reach beyond the surface of what is visible. Portraying people full of hopes and longing, she studied the everyday life of ordinary citizens, foreign or native, and discovered the individual within the social group.

The gap between illusions and realities is present in some of these images, and some of Ieva’s subject’s faces bear the melancholy that marks the discrepancy. Her main interest though is in the in the impact the surrounding has on someone’s life. In Brussels she felt like a stranger herself, looking for places to meet likeminded others. The streets and parks in her photos resemble open-air stages for encounters of all kind. In terms of composition these photos seem casual, but they play with different perspectives: that of the distant passer-by, the friend’s one, the flaneur’s. Some images are black and white, others reveal the mundane’s special moment in colour.

One young woman, who has been living abroad for more than 18 years, is shown in her apartment, alone and together with people close to her. These images seem casual too, but one feels the fragility of the moments they depict, and the search for the proper image of oneself. Finding your place and finding out who you are: Ieva Epnere’s photographs mirror what we all are searching for.

For her exhibition, she grouped these images in a choreography of framed prints of different size that resembles both a cinematic structure and a mood-board. Film sequences meet abstract depictions of surfaces that together enfold a texture of the city. It seems difficult to locate a specific place in these pictures, yet they look familiar. Private interiors meet public spaces that function like a collective living room. Abstract ornaments are placed next to close-ups of historical buildings and details from a park. There is no real protagonist in these photos as we mostly see the backs of people or their faces from a distance. Nevertheless they are full of life and atmosphere.

An urbane landscape is never simply there, but an expression of relationships as well as a social convention. Photography, on the other hand, does not only depict, but investigate and interpret. If urban landscape represents both social, economic, spatial and aesthetic elements, then a complex articulation of today’s culture arises where this landscape meets photography.


Ieva Epnere, from series Waiting Room, 2013-2014

The photographic image links a certain history with a certain view, a memory with a place, a place with a history, and a text with an identity. It is connected with knowledge and experience and provides a stage for related inscriptions. Against this backdrop, Epnere’s collage-like arrangements of photographs do not tell stories, but evoke encounters and impressions. What can be exposed of the artist’s observations and experiences of the city, which aspects of things and words, vision and speech, content and expression? Several images feature untold details without providing an overview of the park or the street corner where they were taken. They visually test and explore the surrounding and thus are as exemplary as they are enigmatic and placeless. Others introduce people in their homes and turn them into representatives of the city we are getting to know through the artist’s eyes.

Looking at these photos spread across the walls is a bit like watching a film: after a while you get familiar with the actors and their roles, the setting and the story, but nevertheless wait for something unexpected to happen.

In their lack of the spectacular, Epnere’s impressions of Brussels suggest that reality in itself can sometimes be more fictitious than fiction. The man with his dog, the children playing in the park are extras in a script we do not know. This should not, however, turn them into something easily to be overlooked. Due to Epnere’s meticulous pictorial compositions that sometimes resemble Dutch landscape paintings, and the interplay of colour and light, these pictures have something familiar about them without being generic. They are rather examples of an ethnography of the everyday filtered through the gaze of someone who would love to leave her position of the informed observer and exchange it for the one of the friend.

Adapted from Vanessa Joan Müller, art historian and art critic

With the collaboration of Agnese Krivade (1981), Latvian poet and writer

Translation: Chris Bourne

The exhibition is part of the Artists in Residence in Brussels programme, which Contretype
started in 1997, and which continues in partnership with the Wallonie-Brussels Federation
and the Francophone Community Commission (COCOF).

Logo_Ambassade_Lettonie Kulturas programma LOGO _FR krasainais_logo

In collaboration with the Cultural Service of the Embassy of Latvia in Brussels

As part of Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU

With the help from the State Culture Capital Foundation (SCCF)

Ieva Epnere was born in Liepaja, Lettonie/Latvia

She lives and works in Riga, Latvia
She works in fields of photography, video and installation


2003 Latvian Academy of Art, Department of Visual Communications (MA), Riga, Lettonie / Latvia
2012 HISK (Higher Institute for Fine Arts), Gand, Belgique / Ghent, Belgium

Recent exhibitions:

2015 Solo exhibition, Galerie Contretype, Brussels, Belgium
2014 Solo exhibition, Galerie des Hospices,
Canet-en-Roussillon, France
2014 The 14th China Pingyao International Photography Festival (PIP), China
2014 Viewfinders, Baltic and Nordic Contemporary Photography (coll.), Photomonth, Riga Art Space, Riga, Latvia
2014 60. International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, international competition, Germany
2013 Solo show Mindscapes, Kim ?, Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia
Salon der Angst (coll.), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
Circulations (coll.), Photofestival, Paris, France
2012 Fat Birds don’t Fly (coll.), Netwerk, Center for contemporary Art, Aalst, Belgium
2012 About Waves and Structure. Behaviour, Disagreement, Confidence and Pleasure (coll.), HISK, Ghent, Belgium
2010 The Green Land, Kim?, Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia
2009 Darbi, Kulturforum Alte Post, Neuss, Germany


2015 kim? Residency Award, finalist
2014 Riga International Film Festival 2ANNAS prize for Best Baltic Experimental Short
2013 Henkel Art Award Finalist, Vienna, Austria
2011Meesterproef Vlaamse Bouwmeester, Genk, Belgium

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