Touched Time

September 8, 2008  |  Exhibitions, In Focus 2008

Touched Time
Joana Deltuvaitė, Ramunė Pigagaitė, Arturas Valiauga
Curator: Eglė Deltuvaitė
08 09 2008 – 24 09 2008
Gallery „Academy“

The touch of time and the human attempts to get hold of time

Ancient Rome’s philosopher Seneca is known to have said that every single day is a new life. Other thinkers have arrived at such a motto of human life: the same, but in a different way. Both thoughts meet and merge in the context of the photography exhibition titled Touched Time, which presents three Lithuanian authors’ (Joana Deltuvaitė, Ramunė Pigagaitė and Arturas Valiauga) encounter with time. The works of all three artists explore how time leaves is touch on people and how people try to touch time itself, yet they are incredibly different and individual.

Having entered the gallery, the viewer, first of all, has a blatant encounter with Ramunė Pigagaitė’s series of photographs of impressive size, showing women cleaning the stairwells of apartment buildings. Elderly women wearing bright-coloured robes, dressed up for the photo shooting, wash the floor, scrub the stairs and wring the cloths. They’re all captured from almost the same angle, and in the background are seen the intensively green and blue walls of the Soviet era – looking exotic, even attractive, sticking out in the context of the apartment block.

Ancient Rome’s philosopher Seneca is known to have said that every single day is a new life.

This series, in which the characters are the only things that differ between the single photographs, employs a rondeau-like form to tell the story of the apartment block walls that have seen a lot during their lifetime and the women who try hard to remove the unpleasant traces of time. These images provoke a natural resistance to the overly intensive staging that is evident in them. It is way easier to accept the poster-like abstractions of colours and bright-coloured walls, which appear to be beautiful and contain much more history and those very touches of time, than to accept the posing women, hiding behind their festive robes and flashy slippers. Maybe they had had enough time to remove the unpleasant traces of time before the eye of the camera lens was even opened?

Arturas Valiauga’s series, revealing the incredibly colourful, yet paradoxically blank life of an elderly village couple in a documentary manner, has an absolutely different spirit. The walls of these people’s house, covered by magazine and newspaper cutouts, shock and increasingly magnetize the viewer at the same time. The awakened human curiosity prompts one to look through these cutouts carefully in an attempt to grasp the reason behind their appearance, the connection between them and their connection with the personality of those who stuck them to the wall. It’s only after one has read through a host of advertising slogans and most unexpected headlines, the eye stumbles over a human being – the owner of the house, quietly sitting deep in the background or in the corner. He is more of a participant than a creator here; his life, scattered into those thousand pieces of paper, does not belong to him, since it was never lived. The others – celebrities, criminals, inventors, missing children, athletes, fashion and showbiz stars – were the ones who lived, not him. Even his belongings are not his – they’re a part of those endless walls too, as if drawn into the orbit of some endless, all-encompassing motion. Paradoxically, the house, devoid of any hint of whiteness, where everything that eyes can see is covered by the incessant hustle of the mass media, is inconceivably empty, while the two people that inhabit it have not much left to share except each other’s loneliness. Time is indeed the main character in these photographs. Time, which humans try to get hold of so desperately.

In the second floor, the visitor is met by Joana Deltuvaitė’s massive prints, which portray the relationship between people and things. It is a microscopic look beyond the borders of human bodily beauty: in these images, time leaves its obvious touch on things, thus revealing the truth about the finiteness of human life. Things wear out, and so does the human being, hanging on to different means of preserving that which cannot be preserved – his or her own youth and beauty. In this series for the Touched Time exhibition, the author captured various body care products and tools like shampoo containers, hairbrushes and cosmetics. These objects, shiny and seductive in the shop, here look worn-out and deformed by obvious traces of passing time: dust, water and excreta of the human body. The “inverted” aesthetic of these photographs, illustrating the relativity of the concept of beauty, is very powerful. Indeed, time leaves its touch on every one of us.

Goda Rupeikaitė (

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