©  Ilona Pulkstene

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Have you ever visited a magician’s workshop? Wherein among thousands of collected artefacts and magical items lingers a special spirit, the spirit of creativity? Wherein a miracle is born? I am the lucky one! When you step over the threshold of "Bēniņi" (the attic), with every cell of your body you sense the special atmosphere. And apparently there is good reason. Here, over the rooftops of Riga, unique pictures come into being. Here the hostess of the magician’s workshop Ilona turns fantasy into reality. It is an unusual pleasure to watch the work of the Master. You even don’t notice how time does fly, you forget about the real world. Here every object is inspired with new life. I don’t know whether Ilona, when she found a huge frame in her studio and decided to throw the gauntlet to her imagination, had the slightest idea of what this project will turn into. Could she even imagine that already after the first photos her closest friends in the studio will be followed one after another by acquaintances, acquaintances of the acquaintances, and even complete strangers; that people by word of mouth will spread the word about this miraculous project, while the number of interested persons will increase with every passing day, and even that on some days in the workshop there will queue persons willing to perpetuate themselves in a very unusual manner. But the challenge has been thrown out! And "A photo frame for my friends" appeared. This project is a kind of a chronicle. This project is a kind of a joke or childishness. At the same time every detail here is thought out to the last detail, here each object obtains different meaning. Here each portrait has its own history. Here every hero is different. Ilona is in power to see, get a feel, guess something that is scarcely perceptible and concealed below hundreds of human masks and let this "scarcely perceptible" to reveal itself. While working "on the frame”, Ilona is capable of exceeding the limits of the frame! Ilona, I am grateful to you for the possibility to experience the atmosphere of creativity, humor and positivism! For the possibility to see how images and portrait photographs are created. You are a great Master! I wish you success and new creative projects!

The project "A photo frame for my friends" was initiated in autumn of 2013, when Riga was visited by my close acquaintance, a photographer from Ukraine. That’s when I thought that it would be great to start making photographs with interesting persons, visiting my studio. I search for something interesting I went upstairs to the attic and found an old wooden frame. On that day those who had come to the photo session, turned into characters of a strange parallel world. And when I published these photos in social networks, real boom arose; and under pressure of the persons willing to appear in the frame, the project by itself rolled on like a huge snowball.
 
Many people ask me why I put them all in the frame. For me the frame is kind of a window, through which we peep into an imaginary world, in which the character I have created lives. Though for someone his appearance may seem awkward or absurd, according to my concept it is rather us that seem funny to him. Being on his side of the frame he feels naturally and easy in his unusual clothing and image.
 
How is the image created? Spontaneously! We are all born talented and ingenious, until grownups teach us "the right thing to do". In this project I seemingly unwind the time and start playing with each object which I get hold of, making up the way to use it in a totally new manner. The ideas arise straight from the air, and suddenly in the picture appears a small casserole; but after the session the man asks with surprise: "Ilona, how did you find out that my childhood dream was to become a chef?" But I had not found out. I just passed by the small casserole and among other things "accidentally" took it. I don’t know how this information reading is happening, but during the process of creating the image I am really "shown" something about these persons, which get in the picture.
 
For me this project has become kind of a creative training exercise. Initially I thought that I will be taking these photos until the frame is broken or ideas are exhausted. After a year and a half it has turned out that the frame is as strong as before, and my ideas are not going to exhaust at all. In fact, after such regular training it has become much easier to create new images. Yet everything has its beginning and end; and having made the final picture with my self-portrait in the frame, I close the last page of this book, in order to give space for new creative projects.