„Public Waiting” – Bus stops in Latvia and Austria

During my journeys around Latvia in summer 2004 the bus stops on the countryside attracted my attention: The diversity and creativity they express left me amazed.

Not only their often-brutalist designs stemming from former Soviet times surprised me, but also their extremely diverse architecture – each structure stood proudly different. Having previously associated Soviet times to uniformity, low-creativity and a rejection of individualism, each of these beauties heavily contradicted my preconceived notions. Even if such an aesthetic outlook may have been true in regards to most aspects of life during Soviet times, those bus stops seemed to represent an act of quiet defiance, erected as inconspicuous monuments to individualism and creativity. I loved them.

It was during my stay in Latvia that I was offered an exhibition space in Riga to show the local bus stop series to the public. They showed interest, but, knowing I was Austrian, they requested I put Austrian bus stops next to the Latvian ones, a suggestion which massively expanded the scope of my work on that series. I didn’t have any pictures of Austrian bus stops at that point.

On my return to Austria, I began taking pictures of Austrian bus stops. They were not as creative and architecturally interesting as their Latvian counterparts, but still very diverse, and often conveying an unmistakable local touch in their design. You can find many recent bus stops where the same “model” is used all over a specific region, but you can also find the older or newer ones, each having their unique design and character.

There are no people waiting, the place itself is important – bus stops in Latvia and Austria. Side by side on the wall, the observer is invited to compare and to explore a small part of everyday culture in two different countries.

The project “Public Waiting” was the beginning of my life time project “G’s Bus Stops”, a collection of bus stops all over the world.

Riga, April 2005, 30 C-Prints, 39x50cm