In pictures: a snapshot of Lithuanian photography

Developing up in Vilnius in the 1990s, Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte imagined it was completely organic to be taught about the humanist custom of Lithuanian photographers even though nonetheless at large university. “They were form of like household names in Lithuania,” claims Kiliulyte of Antanas Sutkus, Vitas Luckus and Romualdus Rakauskas — all masters of black and white social documentary.

Only just after moving to Scotland in 2006 to review at the Glasgow School of Art did she come to be absolutely informed of Lithuania’s outsize contribution to artwork photography. Witnessing the Lithuanian Time of Pictures organised by Glasgow’s Road Amount Photoworks gallery in 2014, Kiliulyte was struck by the intercontinental popularity her countrymen and women of all ages relished.

“At initial, I imagined this was really random,” she suggests. “After studying, I realised Lithuania’s custom of pictures is traditionally rather special.”

This distinctive heritage can be traced to the establishment of the Lithuanian Modern society of Art Pictures in 1969 — a unionised pictures group that was the to start with and only just one of its type permitted in the former USSR. 1 of its founders was Sutkus, whose resolutely unheroic portraits of kids put him at odds with officials who wanted much more upbeat depictions of lifetime in the USSR. Sutkus, on the other hand, preferred to create what he the moment known as a “psychological portrait of contemporary man”.

Two images 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 vacation resort town of Nida on the Curonian Spit — a large bar of sand dunes stretching alongside the Baltic — to show and critique one another’s perform, much from the watchful eye of the point out. Vilnius Images Gallery opened in the very same yr.

Next independence in 1990, the Culture of Art Images continued as the Lithuanian Photographers’ Affiliation, led these days by Gintaras Česonis. He sees Lithuanian photography’s tradition of mutual guidance as integral to its global stature, giving it an affect disproportionate to the country’s tiny inhabitants.

“Being in a team, in collaboration, artists can do way extra than functioning by yourself,” claims Česonis, who is also curator of the Kaunas Pictures Gallery, one more solution of the 1970s pictures scene. “Lithuanian pictures grew to become so visible because artists could compete on a person hand but collaborate on the other hand. They could be together when it was wanted to struggle for rights and opportunities.”

A crucial minute was an exhibition entitled 9 Lithuanian Photographers, held in Moscow in 1969. The demonstrate had a strongly humanist aesthetic, with sequence of photos depicting every day lifetime in Lithuania as a unique ethnographic id.

“They have been definitely amazed by this notion that you could photograph reality but nevertheless you could trace it to the degree of art by exhibiting the emotions of people today, by showing thoughts,” says Agnė Narušytė, art historian and theorist at Vilnius Academy of Arts.

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

Even though no solitary fashion now dominates, Lithuanian images carries on to thrive. The Nida Photography Symposium is now pushing 50, even though globally curiosity continues to be robust. The German publisher Steidl, for case in point, has printed four volumes of Sutkus’s perform, and an exhibition of Lithuanian pictures was not long ago held in Beijing.

Beneath are profiles of 6 present-day photographers born or working in Lithuania.

Tadas Kazakevičius

Portrait of Tadas Kazakevičius

Tadas Kazakevičius is a Lithuanian artist living in Vilnius who documents the disappearing traditions of lifetime in the nation. His apply is motivated by the documentary photography of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Jack Delano, whose perform for the US Farm Safety Administration captured life in rural America in the course of the Great Melancholy.

Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

Portrait of Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte is a Lithuanian artist who life and works in Glasgow. Her apply employs photography, seem and the relocating impression to check out nostalgia, migration and weather alter. She has exhibited internationally and is at present a traveling to lecturer at the Glasgow University of Art.

Valentyn Odnoviun

Portrait of Valentyn Odnoviun

Valentyn Odnoviun is a Ukrainian-born photographer dwelling in Vilnius, wherever he is completing a PhD on the intersections among Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish and Czechoslovak art photographers in the second fifty percent of the 20th century. His exercise centres on pictures as a medium in which abstraction and explanation collide.

Geistė Kinčinaitytė

Portrait of Geistė Kinčinaitytė

Geistė Kinčinaitytė is a Lithuanian photographer who describes herself as an alien anthropologist. Her apply works by using pictures, transferring photographs and audio to investigate the partnership among the physique and the landscape, the weird and the eerie. She is at the moment finishing a PhD in film and monitor research at the College of Cambridge.

Dovilė Dagienė

Portrait of Dovilė Dagienė

Dovilė Dagienė is a Lithuanian artist and photographer functioning in Vilnius whose apply explores themes of memory, creativity, time and place. Her series “Boy with a Stick” was awarded the second prize at the 2015 Earth Photography Awards.