In photographs: a snapshot of Lithuanian images

Barbara Merkley

Growing up in Vilnius in the 1990s, Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte considered it was beautifully organic to be taught about the humanist tradition of Lithuanian photographers even though however at significant faculty. “They were being type of like domestic names in Lithuania,” suggests Kiliulyte of Antanas Sutkus, Vitas Luckus and Romualdus Rakauskas — all masters of black and white social documentary.

Only after relocating to Scotland in 2006 to review at the Glasgow Faculty of Art did she turn into entirely informed of Lithuania’s outsize contribution to artwork images. Witnessing the Lithuanian Time of Pictures organised by Glasgow’s Avenue Stage Photoworks gallery in 2014, Kiliulyte was struck by the international track record her countrymen and women appreciated.

“At very first, I considered this was fairly random,” she suggests. “After investigating, I realised Lithuania’s custom of images is traditionally quite one of a kind.”

This exclusive history can be traced to the establishment of the Lithuanian Culture of Artwork Images in 1969 — a unionised images team that was the initially and only one of its type permitted in the former USSR. One of its founders was Sutkus, whose resolutely unheroic portraits of small children put him at odds with officers who desired extra upbeat depictions of life in the USSR. Sutkus, on the other hand, desired to make what he the moment known as a “psychological portrait of contemporary man”.

‘Pioneer, Ignalina’, a 1964 photo of a Soviet boy by Antanas Sutkus
Two pics by Antanas Sutkus: ‘Pioneer, Ignalina’ (1964) . . . © Antanas Sutkus
‘Back from the Mill’, a 1964 Antanas Sutkus image showing a vehicle full of loaded sacks
. . . and ‘Back from the Mill’ (1964) © Antanas Sutkus

Starting in 1973, photographers would assemble in the resort town of Nida on the Curonian Spit — a massive bar of sand dunes stretching alongside the Baltic — to show and critique 1 another’s get the job done, significantly from the watchful eye of the state. Vilnius Photography Gallery opened in the exact year.

Following independence in 1990, the Society of Artwork Photography continued as the Lithuanian Photographers’ Affiliation, led these days by Gintaras Česonis. He sees Lithuanian photography’s custom of mutual aid as integral to its global stature, giving it an impact disproportionate to the country’s tiny inhabitants.

“Being in a team, in collaboration, artists can do way additional than performing on your own,” claims Česonis, who is also curator of the Kaunas Images Gallery, yet another products of the 1970s pictures scene. “Lithuanian images turned so seen mainly because artists could compete on just one hand but collaborate on the other hand. They could be alongside one another when it was essential to struggle for rights and possibilities.”

A key instant was an exhibition entitled 9 Lithuanian Photographers, held in Moscow in 1969. The exhibit had a strongly humanist aesthetic, with collection of photos depicting everyday everyday living in Lithuania as a distinct ethnographic identification.

“They were being genuinely impressed by this thought that you could photograph fact but nevertheless you could trace it to the degree of artwork by displaying the thoughts of men and women, by showing thoughts,” states Agnė Narušytė, art historian and theorist at Vilnius Academy of Arts.

After independence, artists this sort of as Gintautas Trimakas, Remigijus Treigys and Alvydas Lukys pushed Lithuanian images in a conceptual course, their “TTL” collective checking out the medium’s abstract possible.

While no solitary design now dominates, Lithuanian pictures proceeds to prosper. The Nida Photography Symposium is now pushing 50, whilst around the world fascination continues to be potent. The German publisher Steidl, for instance, has revealed four volumes of Sutkus’s perform, and an exhibition of Lithuanian images was lately held in Beijing.

Beneath are profiles of 6 modern photographers born or operating in Lithuania.

Tadas Kazakevičius

Portrait of Tadas Kazakevičius

Tadas Kazakevičius is a Lithuanian artist residing in Vilnius who files the disappearing traditions of existence in the region. His follow is influenced by the documentary images of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Jack Delano, whose operate for the US Farm Safety Administration captured lifestyle in rural America through the Terrific Melancholy.

Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

Portrait of Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte is a Lithuanian artist who lives and operates in Glasgow. Her exercise employs pictures, sound and the transferring picture to take a look at nostalgia, migration and local climate improve. She has exhibited internationally and is at this time a browsing lecturer at the Glasgow Faculty of Artwork.

Valentyn Odnoviun

Portrait of Valentyn Odnoviun

Valentyn Odnoviun is a Ukrainian-born photographer dwelling in Vilnius, where he is finishing a PhD on the intersections amid Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish and Czechoslovak artwork photographers in the next fifty percent of the 20th century. His practice centres on images as a medium in which abstraction and motive collide.

Andrew Miksys

Portrait of Andrew Miksys

Andrew Miksys is an American-born photographer with Lithuanian heritage. Travelling to Vilnius to check out relations in 1995, he was struck by the tempo of alter as the metropolis adapted to existence after socialism. In 1998, he was awarded a Fulbright grant and moved to Lithuania forever. Baxt, his venture documenting Lithuania’s Romani people, was not too long ago exhibited at Vilnius’s Mo Museum.

Geistė Kinčinaitytė

Portrait of Geistė Kinčinaitytė

Geistė Kinčinaitytė is a Lithuanian photographer who describes herself as an alien anthropologist. Her apply utilizes pictures, going visuals and seem to investigate the relationship in between the physique and the landscape, the weird and the eerie. She is at this time completing a PhD in film and display screen research at the College of Cambridge.

Dovilė Dagienė

Portrait of Dovilė Dagienė

Dovilė Dagienė is a Lithuanian artist and photographer working in Vilnius whose exercise explores themes of memory, creativity, time and spot. Her series “Boy with a Stick” was awarded the 2nd prize at the 2015 Planet Images Awards.

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