Lithuanian Photography: Yesterday and Today '05
designer: Rima Kiubaraitė-Sutkienė
proof-reader: Rima Malickaitė
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania
Media Support Foundation
Fund for Support of Culture and Sports
An Attitude (informal)
In his Letters from Nowhere, Jonas Mekas very aptly writes about 'Americanised' Lithuanians: that they speak Lithuanian with floppy lips, and that their souls have also become floppy. The work of many a young photographer bears a 'French', 'German' or some other accent blown over by present trends. There are some older colleagues, too, who 'lisp' in their attempt to produce a more fashionable (what a dumb word) frame.
The essence is not, of course, the consolidation of national identity or declaring a belonging to something, be it even Lithuania. The essence is independence, not following, and not time serving. I respect Rimaldas Vikšraitis. Not because I have a weak spot (I can foresee a sneer) for social photography. I admire his courage to be himself; or, to be more precise, his inability to understand what his photography 'should be'. For this reason it is genuine. Like the human in his frame is genuine. Like the feelings that this frame evokes, from cynical contempt to gooseflesh skin. A good work provokes. Yet for this it is not necessary to look for the rotting head of a horse with eels clinging to it. Gintautas Trimakas' spaces, levelling the materiality and permeating the physiological level, reach a sphere unyielding to materialisation. His aesthetic is not for the sake of aesthetics.
You will have noticed that we are changing this almanac. I will not explain the motivation behind it; just know that it is not as elementary as following the principle 'we are improving and perfecting.' Simply, everything is unavoidably changing. Therefore, this year's publication reflects the changing relation to creative work and its dispersion. Today, the almanac is what it is, and I do not know what it will be tomorrow. Limbo is that only guarantee that the almanac will not be a lie, will not be influenced by some circumstances. Along with most the recently published works, the working environment of which is between search and tradition, there is a retrospective that has not been actualised because of ideology, the understanding of the art of photography, or the unfavourable fate of a photographer or his or her collection. From drawers, we are pulling out the negatives of Povilas Karpavičius, Michailas Rebis and Ilja Fišeris, of which they could not boast in their own time. We are grateful to their next of kin, who not only preserved these negatives, but without making conditions have made it possible to select and publish them.
Unfortunately, we are not able to present the work of Kazys Laucius, whose centenary we will commemorate next year. A talented and intellectual photographer of the period between the two wars, one of the founders of the first creative organisation of photographers, and a strategist for modern Lithuanian photography, he is not forgotten, he is totally unknown. In 1942, Laucius was shot, his legacy disappeared. Not a single photograph. Such a fate might befall any of us (it does not threaten sportspeople, though). Yet I know one way of protecting the photographic heritage on a state level, and that would be to establish a National Photography Centre, which would not only attend to the preservation of photographs, but would also carry out qualified research and a complex integral dispersion.
In response to the events of the year, the almanac publishes and discusses works by a prominent photographer or an exceptional project: thus, this year, for the first time, it presents frozen film frames by Jonas Mekas, who represented Lithuania at the 51st Venice Biennial. Young photographers have been brought into limelight as well, because, to put it in an old-fashioned way, we are concerned about the future of photography. Thus, the new concept of the publication, which is defined by the apt titles of its sections, points to the priorities: to follow and to notice phenomena of today, to initiate creative activity, and to take care of the survival of the legacy. Art critics, historians and philosophers have convinced me with their articles in this almanac that photography is a serious matter.