September 9, 2008  |  Exhibitions, In Focus 2008

Photo © Antanas Sutkus

Authors: Algimantas Aleksandravičius, Balys Buračas, Algimantas Kunčius, Aleksandras Macijauskas, Romualdas Požerskis, Romualdas Rakauskas, Antanas Sutkus, Stanislovas Žvirgždas

Curators: Antanas Sutkus, Eglė Deltuvaitė
09 09 2008 – 30 09 2008
Vilnius City Hall

The exhibition titled 1922… is a historical one. Eight Lithuanian photographers reflect the history of Lithuanian photography, its specific stages – in other words, the past.

It is an opportunity to take a look at the history of Lithuanian photography and Lithuania as a country, to see what has been lost or altered. And it is the old Lithuanian village that has been lost. Photographer-come-ethnographer Balys Buračas, the author of the earliest work in the exhibition, a print dating back to 1922, was in a hurry to capture the folk art and the everyday chores of the villagers, the spring feasts and the funerals, the carvers of God’s statuettes and the woodworkers, the fair traders and the storytellers, the craft wares, the customs and many other subjects. The representatives of the so-called Lithuanian school of photography learned their craft from the documentary ethnographic photography of Buračas. The themes of Romualdas Požerskis’ series The Wake, in which the author has portrayed the village people’s spiritual celebrations, are akin to those of Buračas’ photography. The time is different – Požerskis took his photographs during the Soviet era, yet that is precisely why these works acquire a special significance, revealing people’s attachment to old traditions (one has to bear in mind that any rituals associated with Christianity were forbidden).

Aleksandras Macijauskas tells us the story of Lithuanian village marketplaces.

This is the history of Lithuanian photography – still worth our look and respect.

The language is already different, however. Macijauskas sought to portray the marketplace as a phantasmagoric fair, a torture site, yet his works, just as all old photography, perform a mnemonic function – they inform us, reminding us of what the marketplace used to be – just another feast.

Just as Maciajuskas rushed off to the marketplace on weekends, Romualdas Rakauskas went to the blooming fields and meadows every spring. Having been working on this series for many years, the author has numerous works in store. The Blooming series coincides with the “blooming” of the photographer himself. According to the author, it is his most successful work.

Stanislovas Žvirgždas’ series Thirteen Bridges of the Neris River prompts the viewer to look at what we negligently lose and damage. The images do not speak about time; the timing is irrelevant. Yet the classic landscape, so fundamental to Lithuanian art, seems to attempt to make us slow down for a moment and notice the classic beauty.

The exhibition as a whole is an attempt to make the viewer slow down and take a look back. Traditional Lithuanian photography speaks about beauty – the beauty of the people and the landscape. The master of psychological portrait genre Antanas Sutkus presents his early works – the series titled J. P. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoire in Lithuania. The photograph showing Sartre making his way through the snow-white sand dunes has become the iconic image of the existentialist philosopher.

Algimantas Aleksandravičius refrains from creating stereotypes in his works, instead inventively using the existing ones to create a person’s portrait. Each portrait is a still scene from a play, embodying the only impression that we remember.

Algimantas Kunčius, in his Reminiscences series, compiles an album of personal and collective memory, where the line separating the two is very thin. An old house window and the new suburb construction sites are contrasted as object-signs and object-symbols.

This exhibition is a classic. Timeless, as we all know. This is the history of Lithuanian photography – still worth our look and respect.

Text © Monika Lipčic

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