Me Among Them

September 11, 2008  |  Exhibitions, In Focus 2008

Me Among Them
Authors: Mindaugas Komskis, Robertas Narkus, Damien Peyert, Pascale Peyert, Vytautas Stanionis, Satoru Toma, Raimundas Urbonas, Arturas Valiauga
Curator: Eglė Deltuvaitė
11 09 2008 – 27 09 2008
Gallery „Arka“

In his self-portrait series Fallen Down, the young Lithuanian photo artist Robertas Narkus questions situations that we deem uncomfortable. Provocative photographs, in which the author captures himself literally fallen down in various settings, remind the viewer of mystery movies’ aesthetic and indeed prompt one to attempt to re-create a scenario, augmenting it with possible criminal undercurrents even. Rich colours, concentrated lighting and the silhouette of a person lying with his face down to the ground bring to mind the murder scene, frequently romanticized in the movies. Tracing the relationship between the fabricated reality and real life is tricky – it is difficult to decide whether to be fascinated by the photographs like film frames, or rather to feel uncomfortable about our frequent indifference in similar everyday situations. Japanese Satoru Toma also creates unusual self-portraits. He portrays himself in the holes in the ground of new construction sites – yet it is not he himself that is there, but his shadow – a foreign body in this environment, yet seamlessly coalescing with it in black-and-white photographs. The author is fascinated by spaces that are in the state of metamorphosis, and he alters his own image in them. The unrecognizable shadow in an impersonal space symbolizes a continuous process of change.

Robertas Narkus. From the Series „Fallen Down”

Satoru Toma. From the Series „Self-portrait Under Construction.”

The contemporary big city and its face is the object of UK-based Mindaugas Komskis’ project Drawing Down the Moon. Yet here London by night is reflected by the drowsy, thickset and dimly lit residential buildings, rather than images of club culture, never-ending entertainment, people of different ethnicity and city lights. This unusual form allowed the author to successfully convey the specifics of a big city in the globalization age, society’s alienation, and the problematic of the private and the public. The themes of globalization and the big city are equally central in French photographer Pascale Peyret’s work. The project titled Green Memory is characterized by an ironic attitude, but at the same time it is an expression of concern for our contemporary society. The photographs feature a miniature city, the skyscrapers and streets of which are made of computer memory cards, while the people are the plastic figures from children’s game sets. The only real character in these images is nature, represented by sprouts that mesh the scene. The photographs illustrate the artist’s idea that, although we know more and have better access to wisdom than the earlier generations, we still feel too small in this growing, increasingly denser, challenging noosphere.

Mindaugas Komskis. From the series „Drawing Down The Moon”

Pascale Peyret. From the series „Green Memory”

Meanwhile, Vytautas Stanionis creates fragmentary panoramas of life. At first, it may look like the frames that make up the panorama are only united by a specific colour palette, yet in reality it is the lives of certain people, spaces, objects and situations. Three frames make one photograph, which presents, alternately, a connected story or a common melancholic mood. The author’s works, as usual, are characterized by a specific, somehow saddening everyday aesthetic. A melancholic aesthetic is also characteristic of documentary filmmaker and photographer Damien Peyret’s project Swim and Steam. The whole of the image, consisting of emerald background, hot springs’ steam, softened light, swimming caps on seniors’ heads and their bodies resting in the water, as well as the uncertainty of the situation, creates a sense of inexplicable serenity.

Vytautas Stanionis. From the Series „Lives”

Damien Peyret. From the Series „Swim and Steam”

Arturas Valiauga’s Between the Shores shows the everyday reality of the passenger ferryboats crossing the Baltic sea and that of the coast towns. Here the destinies of various people, traveling in different directions and for different purposes, intersect. Each photograph, resembling a postcard with its composition, holds an individual story. A feeling of uncertainty and instability takes over while watching these images; a trip is always a chance to review and rethink one’s experience. In this project, archetypes are changed by symbols and vice versa. There’s no coherence or usual documentality to be found in it – according to the author, it was most important for him to convey the subjective experiences, as well as inner states and moods. One can also sense the presence of strong social critique in these works, yet it is disguised by a peculiar aesthetic.

Arturas Valiauga. From the Series “Between the Shores”

The works by members of the artist group Doooris, active in the early 90’s in the city of Klaipėda, can be called a discovery of not just this exhibition or even the festival itself, but Lithuanian art photography in general. Raimundas Urbonas’ photographs, painted upon by painters Arvydas Karvelis and Andrius Jankauskas, mark the peculiar resistant character of Lithuanian photography and, at the same time, one of its stages. Although the collages, which can be associated with the avant-garde stream, clearly stand out in the context of the exhibition, they, like all of the presented projects, demonstrate a subtle yet powerful social critique.

Text © Eglė Deltuvaitė


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