STOCKHOLM.- On the outskirts of Riga lies Amalias Street 5a, a house whose tenants have been documented by photographer Inta Ruka since 2004. The photos are presented, as in all Inta Rukas projects, together with short comments based on what the individuals have told her. The comments are about why they live the way they do, who they know, what they do for a living or want to become, their economy and family situation. In fact, the series is about the big questions about happiness, sorrow, love and hate about life.
Inta Ruka was born in Riga in 1958 and started photographing in the late 1970s. After a few years, in 1983, she embarked on the series My Country People, which she has pursued up until 2000, documenting people and life in her native region, Balvi, in eastern Latvia near the Russian border. The result was a collection of portraits of her relatives and friends and of a vanishing rural culture. Inta Ruka photographs without artificial light, using a Rolleiflex camera on a tripod. In long sittings while waiting for the right light, she gets people to relax by talking to them and trying to get to know them and the setting she is about to portray. My Country People represented Latvia at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 and was Inta Rukas major international breakthrough.
Inta Ruka says that she takes photographs because she is interested in people. The camera is her way of making contact with others. This is why she has worked on developing the art of the photographic portrait. Her vision is to reveal each individual, their personality, and to show that everyone has their own special place and something to tell. Inta Ruka is a vital contributor to the Baltic contemporary photography that related and adapted to the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 90s and then documented the changes in the region during the post-Soviet era. The key to Inta Rukas imagery is her own self. She has a unique ability to communicate and to get people to open themselves to her. Her skill also lies in inspiring confidence in herself and her work.