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“Like There’s No Tomorrow”. A New Book on Lithuanian Contemporary Photography 0

In spring of 2014, Lithuania's most notable photographer, Antanas Sutkus, will celebrate his 75th birthday with a solo show at the Vartai gallery in Vilnius. Currently ongoing, an exhibition on the works of Lithuania's classic photographers is being held in Moscow, through March 23, at the Lumiere Brothers Center of Photography. Meanwhile, a new generation of art photographers is emerging and developing, hoping to carve its own path into the annals of Lithuanian photography.

“Like There’s No Tomorrow” is a new book on young Lithuanian photography. Works from twelve emerging artists are presented in an innovative form that invites a dialogue between different photographers’ works, acquainting the viewer with the new tradition in photography and its contemporary post-Internet expression.

The works in the publication reveal the shifting aesthetic of young-generation photographers, the new overtones, and the medium’s relationship with objects, all of which are put into a context by four essays written by international critics of photography.

“Like There’s No Tomorrow” presents photography that, so far, has been rarely seen in Lithuania, and aims to facilitate artistic and critical dialogue around the new ideas that this photography carries. had a chance to discuss some essential questions with contemporary art and photography critic and curator, Justė Jonutytė, and photographer Paulius Petraitis, editors of the brand-new, young Lithuanian photography guide.

What was the formula for selecting material for this book?

Technically speaking, there are just two main criteria for the photographers featured in the book: they are all Lithuanian, and under 35 years of age.  We started the process by choosing several photographers whose work we thought was important and internationally recognized, yet largely under-represented in Lithuania. These artists introduced a new aesthetic direction of photography almost a decade ago, and have since moved on to create some of the most interesting contemporary photography in Lithuania. We also decided that it was equally as important to showcase some of the promising younger talents alongside those that are better-established. Therefore, we issued an open call and received hundreds of photographic entries, from which several interesting young artists were selected. Their images spark a curious dialogue with the work of their older colleagues.

Why is this book being published right now? Does it mark any important milestones that are occurring in Lithuanian photography at the moment?

The importance of this book is not only in documenting a shift in the aesthetics of image-making, but also in raising important questions about the situation and epistemology of contemporary art photography. This need to spark a dialogue on the current state of the medium, as well as the questions and issues it is currently facing, was – to use photographic terminology – latent for quite some time in Lithuania. “Like There’s No Tomorrow” acts as an opportunity for this discussion.

Can you describe the aesthetics of the book – its design, content structure, etc?

Both of us, together with designer Jurgis Griškevičius, agreed that the design of the book should reflect the fact that most of the images featured in the publication, as well as a significant part of the present-day photography, can be found on the Internet. Many photographs these days appear in almost anonymous environments, and are seen in a dialogue with other photographers’ works, not just on their own. Therefore, the works in the book are presented not in an orthodox way (the photographer and her/his series), but rather, each photograph is placed alongside another photograph that has been taken by someone else. The images lie in the pages freely; each photograph/spread can be looked at on its own, not necessarily in relation to the previous spread.  The blue colour that re-occurs in the book can be seen as a metaphor for the screen.

Could you describe the original and unique code of Lithuanian photography?

As photography draws from the codes of culture and the world at large, and as the former is getting more and more universal, and the latter – smaller, it is little surprise that the most daring and insightful works of Lithuanian contemporary photography deal with a set of questions similar to the ones addressed by their international colleagues. Such questions include: What is the relationship between photography and “reality” in the age of Photoshop? How is the subject of photography changing? Where does the future of the medium lie? What is the relationship between the context and the perception of a photographic image? and, What can we say about our culture from the way that we make, distribute and read images? These questions are often the driving force behind experimentation with the photographic medium.

Photographers included in the publication: Jūratė Gačionytė, Paul Herbst, Jonas Lozoraitis, Agota Lukytė, Ekvilina Milaševičiūtė, Ulijona Odišarija, Paul Paper, Nerijus Rimkus, Rasa Staniūnaitė, Ugnė Straigytė, Vulovak, Kimm Whiskie