In ‘Living Space-Daugavpils’ Stakle uses the subdued light of dusk or early morning to bring an endearing honesty to the subject matter; such as the image of one red blanket on the washing line of an impoverished dwelling. Soviet-built Daugavpils is Latvia’s second largest city and has been home to the Artist for many years hence inspiring the series. Recently, Oxford has been a temporary living space for Stakle, inspiring images such as the spartan Christmas lights of Headington lit against a dusky sky. This new work identifies closely to the self-portraiture used in his ‘Place for Dreams’ series, which also features in the exhibition. Whilst self-portraiture is an established approach for Artists, Stakle uses this genre to add to the narrative of the installation. Some pieces are staged, some are spontaneous; all showing Stakle engaging in the rituals of domesticity such as striking a match and generally chilling out in the obvious place for dreams, a bedroom. The simple black and white photographs are the most perplexing; the simple white bedroom could be his own or perhaps everything has been staged.
Every visitor will leave with his or her own personal interpretation of the sequence but Stakle’s dream is one of hope. The harsh urban cityscape has a pink balloon trapped in the shrubbery, an isolated housing project has an old man tending his fire alone and two young girls celebrate the fun of a makeshift swing in a derelict wasteland. Every prop in the photograph tells a story but not all of the images fit neatly into a narrative, for example the headless shop floor dummies add intrigue to the sequence. Some photographs are simply striking for their beauty, such as the piercing clouds reflected in a body of water. Photographs from the three series are mixed together in the Flash Back installation leaving the subconscious mind the delicious task of unravelling the mystery. Walking out onto the very streets Stakle has photographed, the ghostly image of a man walking down disused steps haunts me giving this viewer a powerful flash back.