Lithuanian photography at “Photohonap” festival in Budapest
On October 29, “Fotohonap”, Budapest Month of Photography opened an exhibition “Traces – Contemporary Baltic Photography”, featuring Lithuanian photography presented by Kaunas Photo festival. The curator of the Lithuanian part, Mindaugas Kavaliauskas, by responding to the subject of past and memory, proposed works of Darius Kuzmickas, Gintaras Česonis, Donatas Stankevičius and his work in association with that of Aleksandras Macijauskas. The exhibition at the architecture centre FUGA will be open until November 27, 2014.
Works of Darius Kuzmickas at FUGA
Darius Kuzmickas lives in between two worlds. His neighbors, customers, buyers of his books and prints, consider him as American. While the artist himself considers himself Lithuanian who lives in the US for two decades. Photography for him is a commercial activity, allowing the excellence of architecture photography bloom and earn him a living. This kind of photography, created by Darius Kuzmickas is emotional, crisp, yet realistic, translating the luxurious lighting, spaces, forms, materials and patterns of hotels, casinos. But when this photographer takes artistic steps, his high-definistion camera is left aside, and the pinhole starts the spontaneous recording the pulse of time, moods, atmospheres.
The 6th KAUNAS PHOTO in 2009 invited Darius Kuzmickas for an artistic residence in his native town, Kaunas, its most intensive street, called Savanorių prospektas. This street is joked to end in Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. In this work, the artist was joining the parallel worlds, those of a professional photographer and an artist, of a realist and a dreamer, connoisseur and the eternal laws of physics. Consequently, were born images, containing two layers of reality – of interiors, decorated by external views.
In this project, Darius Kuzmickas found a way to extend his professionalism and follow-up with his artistic quest in converting living rooms of flats, hotel rooms, offices, production facilities, staircases and even class-rooms of the school he attended 20 years before, into cameras obscuras and inviting the flipped outside views inside. As the photographer pointed out, this adventure with camera obscura allowed to match the visible and invisible worlds that hide from each other in the horizons of consciousness and subconsciousness. In 2010, the 7th KAUNAS PHOTO festival presented an exhibition of large – format images, entitled “Camera Obscura: Savanoriai”, depicting inside and outside views of the longest street of Kaunas.
Darius Kuzmickas “Camera Obscura. Savanoriai”. 2009
In the right corner of the picture are works of Gintaras Česonis
Gintaras Česonis “Cities I Met”. Kalvarija
Cities I Met is the major recent editorial project by Gintaras Česonis for a book about Lithuanian towns and villages in collaboration with a number of writers and one photographer.
Gintaras Česonis is a photographer who does not aim to be pioneering or leading. Rather, he likes when his work on certain things is the decisive one. He’s proved that by creating a monumental series about Kaunas fortification system, even though photographic works on the subject had existed.
In 2002-3, Lithuanian Photographer Vytautas V. Stanionis was crossing Lithuanian towns and villages to create a titanic documentary work „Lithuania. Images of Farewell“. As the artist stated, he took people-less cityscapes to show that people had already returned from the Independence fever-driven meetings back into their homes, or that they passed away. While visiting a huge number of small towns and villages in 2010-12, Gintaras happened to sometimes stop for a picture in the same stop where Vytautas had (e.g. in Kalvarija). By his pictures he suggests that these small towns do have some living souls. Some not yet dead, others still in their childhood years. A pessimist would regard these images of Cities I Met as dull, but an optimist, especially a fan of cross-country documentary photography, would take it as a puristic and sincere photographic work, reflecting not less about the artist than about the villages.
The main idea of Donatas Stankevičius‘ “Reselling” is to resell what belongs to the people – to resell – both physically and mentally. What is more, to price this moment and then spend months for evaluating and selling it. That’s the typical rule of the game in every market. But in this case everything is done not to receive the profit, but to educate people in who’s life there are no place for art.
Once a week the sellers from all over Lithuania come to the biggest open-air market in the Baltics and those wishing to buy something do arrive from Latvia, Estonia and Belarus. Strolling through the trivial commercial labyrinth and observing the space full of antiques, parts of household items, kitschy accessories, and tasteless clothes, there comes a desire to speak about the art, but to speak in a such way, which would be understandable for those people. The visitors of the market does not understand about the art a lot, but they perfecly know what means to buy and to sell. Buying for the lowest price and selling for the highest one – would be even better. So, the best way to talk about art is by talking about market, the market of art.
Donatas Stankevičius photographs these people in a crowded tasteless environment and then puts these photographs into the used frames, which are sold or bought by the same people who are the heroes of those photographs. So finally this new “product” returns to the same market, but now it circulates as a new potential purchase – a piece of art.
With this project, the artist articulates with multi-layered meanings, which contain both social and art legitimating aspects. Questioning art status per se, the artist provokes the attention not only to the possibility or impossibility of art’s presence and perception in unexpected and banal places, but also he confirms a provision, that the notion of “art” is a matter of agreements and attitudes, which can be changed so easily…
Donatas Stankevičius “Reselling”
„Reselling“ won the title of the best gallery of the Art Vilnius art fair in 2014, and is until October 31 on display at Vilnius Photography gallery.
Mindaugas Kavaliauskas and Donatas Stankevičius with the entire team of the embassy of Lithuania in Budapest and members of local Lithuanian community.
Mindaugas Kavaliauskas + Aleksandras Macijauskas “RURAL + URBAN MARKETS”
Urban + Rural Markets by Mindaugas Kavaliauskas & Aleksandras Macijauskas is a work about time gap in the Lithuanian Identity.
It used to be said decades ago that Lithuania was an agricultural country. Today Lithuania is often described as country of beer & basketball. But there is almost no talk about a very special phenomenon, the recent cult of CAR, that started to emerge since 1990s, becoming a key feature the of Lithuanian lifestyle, identity and economy.
Since the restitution of Lithuania’s Independence in 1990, the car has become an additional boost of personal freedom, a source of inspiration and risk, inseparable attribute for work and leisure. Today, Lithuania is distinctive by its high number of cars per capita, by the scope of inter-continental business of used cars re-sale, by the scale of car servicing, sales of spare parts and other car-related businesses, that can hardly be noticed in neighbouring countries.
Cars imported into Lithuania from all over Western / Southern / Nordic Europe and USA are in fast rotation. They can be sold to locals, to people from the Baltic states, Belarus, Poland, Russia or those from more remote lands, such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, etc. Imagine, that a car previously driven in Spain could end up “living” further in Kirghistan…
When Mindaugas Kavaliauskas came back to Lithuania after his studies abroad in 2001, he was fascinated by the vast areas of second-hand car markets in major Lithuanian cities: Vilnius, Kaunas, Marijampolė, Utena. He went to photograph these car-scapes using 4×5 view camera and a panoramic camera. The scale of the Euro-Asian car business was documented.
Between 2006 and 2009, the photographer went to see the close-ups of the used car business, mostly photographing the biggest car market, which is in his native city of Kaunas. Portraits of buyers and sellers, still-lives, fragments of cars came his new search.
For convincing the models refusing to be pictured, Mindaugas Kavaliauskas sometimes had a tool in his bag – a book about rural markets by a legendary photographer Aleksandras Macijauskas (b. 1938), one of the most important figures of the Lithuanian School of Photography and the post-war avant-gardes in European photography. The primary intention of these pictures was to produce a record of something that was meant to vanish under the Soviet rule – the private property and “speculation” on it on the market.
In the new millennium, the master’s signature work “Country Markets” helped the car sellers to understand the importance of the documentary work of the younger photographer. In such a way the “NO” in many cases turned into “YES”, and the time spend talking and discussing things would turn into images.
In 2013, the year of 75th anniversary of Aleksandras Macijauskas, Mindaugas Kavaliauskas curated a large exhibition, retelling the life of the classic photographer through his pictures. He took a complex look at the heritage images of the “Rural Markets”, dating between 1960s and 1980s and found responses to them by adding his own images of 2000s and 2010s with another “very Lithuanian” occupation, used car business, bridging the almost half-a-century differences and similarities of the lifestyle of Lithuanians.