by Magda Niedużak
Between the Lake and the Sea (2011 – 2013) by a Latvian photographer Karlis Bergs is yet another documentary project about human relationship to nature [see here for a post about Moscow’s wastelands]. After many years, Bergs returns to a village from his childhood memories and documents this place, where people live in connection with nature. As the photographer explains, nature is more than just means of survival for the locals. With its cycles and seasons, nature dictates their lives. In fact they are just like nature – quiet, sometimes harsh, and introvert.
During long winter nights, the streets of this tiny village get deserted, with just a few dozen lights on after the younger generation moved to bigger cities or abroad in search of better lives and opportunities. Only the ones who don’t know other ways stay. And so the cycle continues – the young ones move on, the old ones stay, the old lifestyle is disappearing and so are the connection with and the understanding of nature.
Bergs’ treatment of the subject couldn’t have been more adequate. The use of black and white photography with its grainy texture pays homage to the old ways. Bergs also creates a well-balanced mixture of harmonious, centrally composed images and sharper, close-up shots of fishermen or hunters at work. It only makes you wonder whether Bergs, who claims to have always respected people living in connection with nature, would have documented this place in the middle of nowhere if he hasn’t left his homeland at least for a little while…