2018 Tbilisi Photo Festival Hosts Exhibition of Renowned Lithuanian Photographers

One of Georgia’s most awaited cultural events, the Tbilisi Photo Festival, is back, this year taking place in the Old Town. This year marks the 9th edition since the establishment of the festival, and as a part of it, a Lithuanian photography evening was held in Fabrika on September 15.

This year both Lithuania and Georgia are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of their republics and in relation to this symbolic occasion, Lithuania presented a collection of 100 unique photo books of Lithuanian photographers to the newly-established Tbilisi Photography and Multimedia Museum library.

The event, entitled “The Phenomena of Lithuanian Photography (1918-2018),” featured a photo screening and installation of 100 Lithuanian photography books. On one hand, the field of photography in Lithuania was shaped by western European influence and on the other by the Soviet cultural context. As such, the Lithuanian photographic experience was a fascinating evolutionary process, as artistic aesthetics gave way to the idealistic dogma of the Stalin period, to the birth of the humanistic “Lithuanian School of Photography,” and the new forms that have emerged since the fall of communism.

The screening of 100 years of Lithuanian photography is the first time Tbilisi Photo Festival has showcased such a rich collection of masters in a single event. The photo exhibition displayed the works of 30 distinguished and renowned artists. Apart from photo screening, the attendees were able to personally look through the Lithuanian photobooks exposed at the venue.

The evening was attended by numerous photography and art lovers of all ages, both foreigners and locals.

Giedrius Puodžiunas, the Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to Georgia welcomed the guests and stressed the importance of the event.

“Today is a special event since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of both Georgian and Lithuanian statehood. The audience saw a short presentation of those 100 years and may have noticed a few familiar faces and places, since some of the photos were shot in Tbilisi. The screening presented great artists and great names. We are proud of our school of photography. The exhibition brought many people, lovers of art and photography here and served as demonstration of a beautiful friendship between these two countries,” the Ambassador told GEORGIA TODAY.

Gintaras Cesonis, the Chairman of the Union of Lithuanian Art Photographers and curator of the exhibition, also delivered a speech and expressed his happiness at seeing the beautiful installation of Lithuanian books donated to the Georgian side.

“Collaboration is very important between these two countries, between artists, between galleries, and museums,” Cesonis noted, adding that his kind of event is a way to get to know each other better. “During our visit to Tbilisi, we met some curators and agreed to organize a Georgian photography day in Lithuania next year, and I think it will be only the beginning of exchanges and mutual projects. Donating books was a spontaneous proposal from our side while meeting the Director of Tbilisi Photo Festival during the photography festival in France. Sincerely, the idea came from the heart and I’m really happy the gesture was so warmly accepted. This is probably the biggest Lithuanian photography book collection in the world outside of Lithuania. In the screening, each photographer tried to uncover the identity of the country they are living in and the relationship between the person and daily life through their photo collections. I think Georgian and Lithuanian people understand each other better than any other countries. Even the fact that in 1918 neither of us was creating a new country but recreating the state we lost a century prior, makes us closer. Our countries share many similarities from their history, so it’s easier to understand and love each other. We are open for invitations and proposals. I’d personally like to come back here just as a photographer one day, because the country is beautiful and calls to me as a photographer,” Cesonis told GEORGIA TODAY.

The Lithuanian photo exhibition was followed by the traditional Night of Photography in the heart of the Georgian capital, in Betlemi District, one of the oldest and the most authentic parts of Tbilisi. On Saturday, September 15, eight large media screens were set up in the streets of Betlemi District overlooking the city. The works on show were provided by over 20 different festivals, agencies, organizations and publications, including the Angkor Photo Festival, La Nuu de Fotografia, Ria Keburia Gallery, British Journal of Photography, Noor agency, Lensculture, Delhi Photo Festival, Vasa Project, Latvian Museum, as well as Georgian photographers.

Tbilisi Photo Festival was co-founded by French photographer, currently Photo Editor in Chief at the French daily newspaper Liberation, Lionel Charrier, and the Georgian photo curator and journalist Nestan Nijaradze. It was first launched in 2010 in partnership with Les Rencontres d’Arles. Eight editions later, it has become not only the most important photo festival in the region but one of the major annual cultural events in the Caucasus.

The Festival aims to be a central meeting point for photography from Asia, Iran, Turkey, Europe, and the Arab world - and to showcase the best of world photography as well as to promote emerging regional photography.

By Lika Chigladze

20 September 2018 18:24