Soul Studies. Contemporary Lithuanian Photography is an exhibition about the “soul” as a metaphysical experience and a cultural foundation for the sense of belonging and identity. The exhibition consists of works by prominent contemporary Lithuanian photographers Dovile Dagiene and Gintaras Česonis, as well as a presentation of the most beautiful photography books of the last decade published by NoRoutine Books and the Kaunas Photo Gallery. The two rooms of the Art Incubator will become host to a series of black-and-white photographs. The first cycle—Here Then, There Now (Cia tada, ten dabar)—focuses on the concept of time and the attempt to bring it to standstill. Photographs depicting the movement of the sun, moon and planets bridge cosmic time, counted in billions of light years, with the time of the Solar System and, finally, Earth’s time, i.e. the time of Dagiene’s photographs.
The seconds and fractions of a second needed to expose the negative, the eight minutes it takes for sunlight to reach Earth, are juxtaposed with abstract units of cosmic time. Conversely, the photographs of Gintaras Česonis, an eminent photographer of modernist Kaunas architecture, concern nature, showcasing near-abstract shapes formed by tree roots. Much like Dagiene’s photographs, Česonis’ pictures eschew a straightforward typology, approaching the format of an essay open to interpretation, a study in which form and sensitivity, tenderness, and openness to metaphysics—one finds it hard to resist the term—come together. Dagiene and Česonis not only share a mastery of analogue photography but also an inclination towards conceptual, existential and, in a way, posthumanist art. This is an important distinguishing feature of contemporary Lithuanian photography. The exhibition will also feature an exhibit of books for which Lithuanian photography is known around the world. With that said, the show in Sopot will focus on the self-publishing output of NoRoutine Books, a publishing house founded in 2014 and run in Vilnius by Vilma Samulionyte and Gytis Skudžinskas. The exhibit will include low-volume auteur books and objects selected by NoRoutine, invariably published in editions of 99 copies, and therefore constituting collector’s rarities. Among the rare releases of this publishing house, whose activity focuses on formal experimentation, one will find books by Gabriele Gervickaite, Madara Gritāne, Ričardas Šileika, Algis Griškevičius, Aurelija Maknytė and others.