In pictures: a snapshot of Lithuanian photography

Developing up in Vilnius in the 1990s, Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte thought it was beautifully normal to be taught about the humanist tradition of Lithuanian photographers although nonetheless at significant faculty. “They were form of like residence names in Lithuania,” states Kiliulyte of Antanas Sutkus, Vitas Luckus and Romualdus Rakauskas — all masters of black and white social documentary.

Only right after relocating to Scotland in 2006 to review at the Glasgow Faculty of Art did she turn into fully mindful of Lithuania’s outsize contribution to art pictures. Witnessing the Lithuanian Period of Images organised by Glasgow’s Road Amount Photoworks gallery in 2014, Kiliulyte was struck by the global name her countrymen and girls liked.

“At initially, I considered this was very random,” she claims. “After investigating, I realised Lithuania’s tradition of pictures is historically quite special.”

This exclusive heritage can be traced to the establishment of the Lithuanian Culture of Art Pictures in 1969 — a unionised photography group that was the very first and only 1 of its variety permitted in the former USSR. Just one of its founders was Sutkus, whose resolutely unheroic portraits of small children put him at odds with officials who wanted extra upbeat depictions of lifetime in the USSR. Sutkus, nonetheless, most popular to make what he when termed a “psychological portrait of modern day 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 obtain in the resort city of Nida on the Curonian Spit — a massive bar of sand dunes stretching together the Baltic — to exhibit and critique a single another’s do the job, considerably from the watchful eye of the state. Vilnius Pictures Gallery opened in the similar yr.

Pursuing independence in 1990, the Culture of Artwork Pictures continued as the Lithuanian Photographers’ Affiliation, led right now by Gintaras Česonis. He sees Lithuanian photography’s custom of mutual help as integral to its worldwide stature, supplying it an affect disproportionate to the country’s very small populace.

“Being in a team, in collaboration, artists can do way additional than functioning on your own,” states Česonis, who is also curator of the Kaunas Pictures Gallery, a further product or service of the 1970s images scene. “Lithuanian pictures grew to become so visible mainly because artists could compete on a single hand but collaborate on the other hand. They could be with each other when it was wanted to struggle for legal rights and chances.”

A crucial second was an exhibition entitled 9 Lithuanian Photographers, held in Moscow in 1969. The present experienced a strongly humanist aesthetic, with collection of images depicting daily daily life in Lithuania as a distinct ethnographic identification.

“They were genuinely amazed by this thought that you could photograph truth but even now you could trace it to the level of art by exhibiting the feelings of folks, by displaying ideas,” says Agnė Narušytė, art historian and theorist at Vilnius Academy of Arts.

Right after independence, artists these types of as Gintautas Trimakas, Remigijus Treigys and Alvydas Lukys pushed Lithuanian photography in a conceptual direction, their “TTL” collective discovering the medium’s summary possible.

Though no one type now dominates, Lithuanian images continues to prosper. The Nida Pictures Symposium is now pushing 50, whilst worldwide fascination continues to be strong. The German publisher Steidl, for case in point, has revealed 4 volumes of Sutkus’s operate, and an exhibition of Lithuanian photography was recently held in Beijing.

Underneath are profiles of 6 up to date photographers born or performing in Lithuania.

Tadas Kazakevičius

Portrait of Tadas Kazakevičius

Tadas Kazakevičius is a Lithuanian artist residing in Vilnius who documents the disappearing traditions of lifetime in the place. His practice is inspired by the documentary pictures of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Jack Delano, whose perform for the US Farm Stability Administration captured existence in rural The us all through the Excellent Depression.

Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

Portrait of Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte is a Lithuanian artist who life and is effective in Glasgow. Her exercise employs images, seem and the relocating graphic to investigate nostalgia, migration and weather transform. She has exhibited internationally and is at the moment a checking out lecturer at the Glasgow College of Art.

Valentyn Odnoviun

Portrait of Valentyn Odnoviun

Valentyn Odnoviun is a Ukrainian-born photographer living in Vilnius, where by he is finishing a PhD on the intersections among Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish and Czechoslovak artwork photographers in the next half of the 20th century. His exercise centres on pictures 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 go to kin in 1995, he was struck by the speed of adjust as the metropolis adapted to life soon after socialism. In 1998, he was awarded a Fulbright grant and moved to Lithuania completely. Baxt, his undertaking documenting Lithuania’s Romani families, was recently 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 practice takes advantage of photography, moving illustrations or photos and seem to examine the partnership concerning the system and the landscape, the odd and the eerie. She is at the moment completing a PhD in movie and display reports at the College of Cambridge.

Dovilė Dagienė

Portrait of Dovilė Dagienė

Dovilė Dagienė is a Lithuanian artist and photographer working in Vilnius whose observe explores themes of memory, imagination, time and place. Her series “Boy with a Stick” was awarded the next prize at the 2015 Globe Images Awards.