One warm summer evening, I stood by the bend of a road, by the confluence of two roads and took a picture of the setting sun. Now thirty odd years later I am looking at the pictures taken in Vilnius in 80ies as if reliving the moments again. Mundane details are gone, only the essentials are left. Rough surface of the road, the border of the sidewalk leads up and then bends right into the darkness, the rays of light enticingly glowing above the bend as if luring in to fly away from the darkness.
During the soviet time I was not an active member of the resistance. Nevertheless, to me the soviet system and ideology was a repulsive fiction, a distasteful deception. In search of the meaning in life I was looking for some alternative philosophy, some alternative lifestyle, some alternative way of looking at things. While taking the pictures I was attracted by the quiet narrow streets, untended historical buildings, abandoned things, lonely children playing in the emptiness, homeless people going about their routine, to everything which would not fit the artificially jubilant, officially offered and promoted myth.
I started to listen more closely to the kind of life which is far away from the noise and hustle of daily set agendas of most people. And this quiet unnoticed life was really interesting and dear to me, I would take a picture in a very simple, direct way to capture the moment in it’s natural environment. It was not an act of protest or the revelation of neglects, of hidden wrongs done by the society or the state. I just wanted to learn more about the life behind the glossy poster. I would search for the people, animals, streets, buildings, things which were not spoiled, not colored by this prevailing red ideology ̶ for authentic and real things. Life was not easy for those people, but they were not crushed, they had humility, endurance, strength in their lives and serenity in their eyes. From many images I have taken I would choose those where all things in the picture even small details would assemble together in a tentative balance, in a fragile harmony to tell the unique story about an ordinary life.
Once I sat with my children in the outside café, we were drinking some refreshments. Customers from the next table stood up and left, there were still some cups and some lemonade in the bottle on their table. A homeless person was walking by and noticed the bottle on the table, he wanted to fetch the bottle for refund but he sat down and pretended as if it was his stuff, he poured the rest of the lemonade in the cup which was still on the table and took a sip while I just caught that moment with my camera. When I printed the picture I saw his expression of the face: he looked so absorbed and undisturbed even though there were people around him and they could have rebuked him for his action. He was focused and calm, there was expression of quiet joy on his face as if he was savouring the divine nectar. He was in his own world and his world looked meaningful and real though untidy and hard.
The images most often have also a symbolic, a profound meaning to me. The play of black and white creates countless shades of gray, creates shapes and forms, unveils the hidden connections, raises some fundamental questions, reveals the universal statements, announces the testimony of truth. The shining sunlight graciously illuminates countless forms for us to see, comforts us, inspires us to search for new horizons. In the dingy, shady courtyard the sunlight is purifying the beddings which are drying on the line of its everyday dirt and bleaching out the traces of human misery? In winter a woman is standing on the bridge and looking down at the river, the ice flow below, the river flow, the life flow; she is absorbed in the moment and she is gone to the quiet place within? The bridge is leaping to the other shore, all the visible shapes melting into the mist and only sculpture guardians vaguely seen at the entrance of the great unknown? In the fog a woman is standing at the crossroad hesitant to make a next step ̶ the moment of choice without clear directions or guidance, as if waiting to gather the courage to make this genuine, personal decision? An empty street, a puddle, shady houses joined in the silent harmony for the rushing crowd in the distance to see something more significant than only pursuit of mundane gains? An open abandoned book is lying on the windowsill left by someone in the corridor of an old building ̶ it is opened for anyone willing to read and to learn some deep truths? The child poised in the comfy spot , he is looking directly into the camera, looking timidly but intently as if trying to catch a glimpse of the future in the eyes of the viewer or the validation of his existence?
Those images are my version of the story about my hometown and of its residents. The town where I was born, where I grew up, where I was trying to make the sense of it all.