Concept of the Exhibition at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania ‘The Chameleon Colours’: Lithuanian Soviet Photography as a Construct of Ideological Reality in 1978–1982
Keywords:news agency Elta, Soviet photojournalism, ideology, propaganda, (visual) representation of reality, (informal) Soviet conceptualism
The article presents an explication of the concept of the exhibition ‘The Chameleon Colours’ held at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania from 7 July to 26 August 2022. The exhibition is treated as a response to severe issues related to the political, cultural and even mental legacy of the Soviet era emerging against the background of today’s geopolitical upheavals, one them being the war in Ukraine. The exhibition, the title of which replicates that of the novel by the Lithuanian Soviet author Jonas Avyžius, compared the 1979–1982 propaganda photo reportages by the news agency Elta and samples of visual underground avant-garde works. The factor bridging these works are (social) realities of that time period, but these two categories of works demonstrate diametrically opposite conceptions. The analysis of photo essays by Elta revealed the official Soviet ideological ‘filter’, which was being ‘put’ onto the reality. The samples of the so-called artistic underground, on the one hand, stem from the contemporary situation within the social peripheral or even the out-of-the-margin zones (feelings, conditions and impulsive reflections). On the other hand, the ‘chaos’ and eclecticism of these art objects, photographs and collages are characterized by an internal logic typical for the Western neo avant-garde of the 50s and 60s of the 20th century as well as for the informal conceptualism of Central and East Europe (including the Soviet Union). These works represent the effort to deidealize, disclose and depoliticize and, in a particular way, re-politicize the per se (social) reality.
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