Paulis Jakušonoks. Turtle Island

Daugavgrīva Fortress, November 20 – December 26, 2021. 

In 2015, while looking for a name for the festival whose creation was inspired by the Daugavgriva Fortress, there were two options: Komēta (Comet) Festival, or Turtle Island Festival. The second was based on a sketch of the fortress from the 17th century, in which the fortress was still in the shape of a five-pointed star and from one perspective resembled a turtle.

The turtle is present in many cultures, but the idea that a turtle supports, or contains, the world probably first appeared in Hindu mythology*. In one of the Vedas, the second incarnation of Vishnu, Kurma, is also a giant turtle that supports the sky, balancing a mountain on its back.

Visiting the exhibit can take several hours and should be done at a turtle’s pace. The placement of each image coincides with the place where the photographer decided to capture the moment over the course of the years of the Komēta festival (2016 – 2020). Although these pictures are taken in a photojournalistic style, the people depicted in the pictures are mostly leisurely and open. The photographer achieved such a relaxed relationship with his subjects because he also participated in the festival as a musician and also grew up in the neighbourhood of the fortress – he knows it by heart.

One of the Komēta Festival’s goals was to mark the Daugavgriva fortress as an ideal place for cultural events. It is surrounded by nature and has a great cultural and historical heritage – it is a large area with enough space for several thousand visitors. After all, it is an island on an island. And as a result of five years of us operating there, we realized that the only thing that is missing in the fortress’ landscape is people.

This exhibition features 30 photographs, exactly as many years as the author is old, and also exactly as many years as Daugavgriva Fortress has been looking for its own turtle to support it. The fortress has protected Riga and its inhabitants from military attacks for several centuries, but now it needs our protection. Although the Daugavgrīva Fortress is a cultural monument of national significance (National Defense No. 6606), it is still slowly and now seemingly desperately waiting for its destiny to come.

We hope that this exhibition will be a small brick in the continuation of 400 years of history – ignoring the 30 years of unsuccessful efforts of the institutions tasked to, at the very least preserve it – and  that the Daugavgriva Fortress will soon be able to support Riga’s social and cultural life even more fully.

Paulis Jakušonoks (born in 1991, Bolderāja) is a photographer who works mainly in analog black and white photography. He graduated from the ISSP School of Photography, as well as studied with master of photography Andrejs Grants. Paulis has been working in photography since 2009. This is his second solo exhibition.

Free entrance. Each photo location can be viewed on this map or CLICK HERE: