of social norms.
Photo exhibition since 2021
Photographer Matīss Markovskis
Exhibition curator and producer
in Latvia Aija Freimane, PhD.
Norms are about what kind of people we expect to find in different situations. They are notions of what is considered ‘normal’. Many who break norms risk being faced with questioning, discrimination, hatred and even violent crimes. The Swedish Discrimination Act contains a value base that emphasises objectivity, impartiality and equal treatment. Keywords like equality, gender equality, humanity and integrity are highlighted. The words are charged with responsibility. In Sweden, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or other beliefs, disability, sexual orientation and age are raised as factors that help define particularly vulnerable groups.
The concept of norm criticism was introduced to change confining norm structures. With the help of norm criticism, we can discover and change restrictive norms, rather than attempt to make individuals fit in. It’s important to be able to see oneself, one’s own norms, and what one conveys in order not to limit others and their own scope of action. Practically, norm criticism can be a method of analyzing materials, working methods, texts and images. In this exhibition with accompanying manual, we have focused on pictures, as ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Every day we come across hundreds of pictures that uphold restrictive norms.
An eye-opener can be an article about executives that is illustrated by an older white man’s hand, with well-manicured nails, where you also clearly see the sparkling white shirt with the cufflinks against the black jacket sleeve, a wedding ring, and in the hand a cup of barista coffee. A boss is not an unmarried young woman on the workshop floor with an immigrant background holding a cup of watered-down coffee from a vending machine.
The exhibition in Latvia is implemented with the support of the Swedish Institute in Stockholm and The Swedish Embassy in Latvia.