A incrível obra de Antanas Sutkus – olhares da Lituânia

13 11 2014
Foto: Antanas Sutkus

Foto: Antanas Sutkus

 

Eu conheci o trabalho do fotógrafo lituano Antanas Sutkus em 2013, quando visitei – completamente por acaso – o último dia da exposição na Caixa Cultural, que rodou o Brasil por dois anos. Apesar de pouco conhecido no Brasil, o fotógrafo tem uma obra impressionante e delicada retratando principalmente o cotidiano de seu país quando ele esteve sob o domínio do governo soviético, de 1939 a 1941 e depois de 1944 a 1991.

Sutkus teve sua obra censurada pelo regime, pois retratava a população de uma forma que a União das Repúblicas Socialistas Soviéticas (URSS) não estava de total acordo, uma vez que ia contra a sua propaganda de grandiosidade e potência econômica. Apesar da censura do governo, as imagens de Antanas Sutkus não exploravam cenas de denúncia e terror; muito pelo contrário, suas fotografias falam da vida do homem comum, com suas alegrias e tristezas, registradas pela sensibilidade de um homem também comum, que teve a oportunidade de contar histórias por meio de sua câmera.

E foi assim que decidi fazer minha monografia da pós-graduação em Fundamentos da Cultura e das Artes (Unesp) sobre o trabalho do Antanas. Durante todo o processo de pesquisa (apesar dos vários contratempos e bloqueios criativos), tive a chance de entrevistar o fotógrafo por email, com a ajuda de sua esposa Rima Sutkiene, além de conhecer mais sobre a história da Lituânia e seu povo. Fiquei muito satisfeita com o material que reuni e estudei.

Por isso, é com muita alegria que compartilho aqui a versão final da monografia para que fique disponível a todos aqueles que se interessam por fotografia documental, mas também a aqueles que gostam de conhecer grandes fotógrafos. Antanas Sutkus é um desses nomes e precisa ser conhecido, suas fotografias são mais do que inspiradoras.

Abaixo, reproduzo na íntegra,  a entrevista feita com o fotógrafo.

Espero que gostem! 🙂

 

 

Foto por Vinicius Grosbelli

Foto por Vinicius Grosbelli

 

How was growing up in the countryside during the USSR years in Lithuania?

Antanas Sutkus – I grown up in a village with my grandparents. In spite of soviet repressions, exiling people and other terrible actions of soviet reality, my childhood was very nice as my grandparents were loving and gentle to me. The main thing in the family was the dialogue.

 

How was the daily life in your youth? What was your routine?

A.S. – There was no routine in the youth. I was the young man who was interested in everything and I felt the lack of time only to do everything I wanted. My life at that time was like a storm. It hardly differs from every young person’s life. I liked to read a lot and felt a lack of time for that. I was studying in the Vilnius University and had to refuse of it because of my interest in photography – there was no time.

 

What do you miss the most in those days? What makes you feel nostalgic about?

A.S. – I feel nostalgia to my youth, my first love, for the energy I had at that time. Mostly we felt a lack of freedom. We were “closed“ by soviet regime. It was forbidden to receive all kinds of news from abroad. This was the worst thing which made our youth constricted.

 

How was your approach with the people you used to photograph those days?

A.S. – I like people as a whole. It was very simple communication between simple people. My personages never felt me like photographer. We used to meet each other and after that we become a kind of friends.

 

What was/is your motivation to photograph the daily life of ordinary people? What did/do you feel?

A.S. – Ordinary people are and were close to me spiritually. I hope that this spiritual affinity reflects in my photographs. Those ordinary people are the main heroes of every nation. They have to survive from wars, after-wars periods, all kind of political crises and to rebuilt their life.

 

You have a great quantity of photographs about people. I’ve selected a group of those images and the people’s expressions are the first thing that come to our attention. The plainness, the apprehensiveness, the joy, the sadness. What do you believe that’s the most meaningful of those portraits? I would like you to comment some of the images (please, find them attached), maybe remember some curious stories behind them. Some of them were made after 1990, hence after Lithuania’s independency, if I am not wrong (and please, feel free to correct me if I was inaccurate in any moment). Even so, I would like you to comment them.

A.S. – All those photographs were taken for me not to a viewer or public. I was never thinking about the result during my work. It was no intension to make any photograph to any exhibition. I never thought about my photography before making photos. All my photographs are taken intuitively without any preparations before. The main thing for me is to reflect the personality and find a grain of humanity in every human being. The most interesting thing in portraits made after the Independence was the spirit of emigrants who escaped Soviet reality and settled in USA and other countries. I visited Lithuanian community in America and made portraits of emigrants returned to Lithuania after Independence. The series  called “Lithuanians of the World” was exhibited in Chicago, some of the portraits are included to my publications. During 1994-1997 I was occupied with the series called “PRO MEMORIA: to the living martyrs of the Kaunas ghetto”. It is the series of portraits of survivors from Jewish Ghetto in Vilnius’ and Kaunas’. Right now I’m working with a new edition of this series and hope to show it as well in Brazil.

 

During your career you’ve been censured. What were the common arguments they use to censure your work and how was dealing with that? It was frustrating not being able to show your work in your own country? How did you manage to “escape” of the censure and take your photography to other countries?

A.S. – The main thing the soviet censorship blamed me for was for showing of the so-called dark side of Soviet life. As well soviets called me a nationalist. It was a big fault at that time. I had no possibility to show all my photos in Lithuania and USSR. Some of them were shown. On the other hand Lithuanian photographers were able to avoid the censorship in various ways and show our photographs abroad. Of course in was a big risk. Only a part of my photographs were shown during the soviet period. The main part of my works were printed and shown in Lithuania and in European galleries and museums after the1990.

 

How did you feel by had documented a generation in a moment so historic in your country?

A.S. – I was part of that generation. Taking pictures was like a writing of a diary of the life.

 

What was the importance of the foundation of Lithuanian Society of Photographic Art? Why did you decided (with a group of others) to create this society in your country? What were the major difficulties?

A.S. – The foundation of Lithuanian Society of Photographic Art had enormous value to Lithuania. The photography had to have its own house like literature, music, cinematography etc. which already had their own organizations. It was easier to organize exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad, to publish catalogues and photography books. Nowadays the Union of Lithuanian art photographers edits 5-6 bilingual photography publications. At the regime time the Lithuanian Society of Photographic Art was the only one photography organization in all USSR. It was not so easy to survive as we attracted a big attention of censorship.

 

How it was the transition from the communist regime to the capitalist? What can you comment in terms of the population’s changes?

A.S. – To say shortly – the regime is a terrible thing. The national independence and freedom was coming to fruition of our dreams. And the changes are still going on. We are a part of the process. We should have a separated interview on that theme.

 

What’s the meaning of photography in your life?

A.S. – The photography is my life. The question could be what the meaning of my life in my photography is.

 

How do you evaluate your work? What you believe that’s your legacy to the humanity?

A.S. – For me, even now I am working. For me, the live contact between people was always of most important. The photography of the second half of the 20th century is based on that. Nowadays, in digital world, we lose the contact between people and live among virtual people; in the virtual world I feel the lack of human eye contact. I think that humanity will answer or not what is the meaning of my work.

 

Any other comment that you would like to add?

A.S. – I am very grateful to Brazilian people who evaluated my works so much. I have to say many thanks especially to creators of the Ars et Vita organizers, Luiz Gustavo Carvalho and Maria Vragova. They made a lot of work to spread my photographs in Brazil and made this country so close to us.

 

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