Jonas Dovydenas - Another Country Also Mine

The exhibition will last from May 5th until May 30th, 2004
Opening hours: daily from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. except Mondays

The black-and-white photographs of Jonas Dovydenas happen in the outskirts of contemporary seeing. To the casual viewer there is no stage-craft and a little drama. We are shown views of everyday sights, ordinary people. With so little to hold on to we need to put ourselves into a receptive mode to see how these pictures open up to a process of attentive viewing. This does not mean we must scrutinize every frame for deatils that may yield significant messages. With these photographs there is no need for deciphering. The images are not coded with visual quotes or iconic signs. They have not been tampered with in that way. Jonas Dovydenas invites us to look with him at things we have already seen many times. The secret is to read them just by taking them in.

I sense that the lack of pictorial ideology in Jonas Dovydenas's photos is also ideological somehow. This displaced Lithuanian keeps coming back to his home country with acquired foreign eyesight. He is different from his Lithuanian colleagues. His mode is one of roaming freely, passing by, moving on. Along the way he notices things. Like cars on the side of the road or in front of tourist attractions. He knows the sources of 20th century American photography well, but for him photography is about seeing and showing - not about constructing or deconstructing.

Jonas Dovydenas takes pictures in the backwoods as well as public places of contemporary Lituhania, pictures that elaborate the act of appearing to be disinterested. They can be read as an exercise in sympathetic viewing, but the author takes pains not to reveal a vested interest.

His cityscapes are really snapshots of loosely defined border areas of today's urban settlements. We see housing projects from the 60's or the 70's. People have put their small savings into buying their decrepit flats. They have acquired cars which they park anywhere where there is space. They live here. They leave tracks when they walk with their dogs on a muddy slope between the buildings. There is nothing tragic about it. Where other might have shot a story about Post-Communist squalor, Jonas Dovydenas brings out a silvery, clear-eyed normalcy in the changes taking place.

Jonas Dovydenas has the ability for making the small look big. He wants us to believe we can see a possible endless extension of Lithuania's confined space if only we pay enough attention passing through.

Anders Kreuger