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Construction of memory in Indrė Šerpytytė’s photographic work

Created: 2009.09.23 / Updated: 2014.03.27 10:38

2 October – 18 December, 2009. The Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania presents the Lithuanian photographer Indrė Šerpytytė, whose striking series of images “A State of Silence” and “(1944-1991)” awaken sense of history and loss, related to the her family history and links with the recent history of Lithuania. The young photographer finds an appropriate mode of visual expression that chimes with the sensibilities behind the images. Opening of the exhibition: Friday, 2 October, 6.30 - 8.30 pm. Indrė Šerpytytė in conversation with Martin Barnes, the Senior Curator of Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

3 Geliu St., Rudiskes (from the Former NKVD- MVD- MGB- KGB Buildings series), C-type print

Indrė Šerpytytė tells that her work stems from her own displacement: „Growing up in a different country from where you were born and lived as a child allows you to view the history of your own country with a more critical eye. The sense of never truly belonging has made me more determined to explore my own roots.  [...] Through my images I attempt to reconstruct my inherited memory in an attempt to make past more tangible.“

From the A State of Silence series, C-type print

“A State of Silence” is a series of striking still-life images – a typewriter, a telephone, a military hat – that presents the viewer with a narrative of intrigue. The document is shredded and the telephone silent, leaving what appears to be the remnants of a bureaucratic system. Indrė Šerpytytė questions official accounts of the death of her father, a government official, in an apparent car accident. The darkness of the images appear to represent the mysterious and ambiguous nature of the objects themselves.

Her most recent work is related to the armed anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania in 1944-1953, so called war after war. After Lithuania was occupied by the Soviets for the second time in 1944, thousands of men gathered in the forests in the hope that they should not stay there for too long – till the decisions of the Peace Conference implementing the principle of self-determination of the nations were made. Unfortunately their expectations did not come true and for nine years, from 1944 to 1953, Lithuania fought its war alone.

From the Forest Brothers series, C-type print

Indrė Šerpytytė invokes the memory of these historical events by visiting actual sites and taking photographs of the real forests of the so called ‚forest brothers‘ and on the other hand, real former houses of NKVD-NKGB-MVD-MGB Soviet forces struggling against the partisan movement. Later the artist ‚translates‘ them into photographic and sculpted images. According to Indrė, we associate homes with a feeling of security and safety, yet these once familiar environments were turned into prisons and places of torture. „And forests became a hiding place providing a home and freedom, but in the end death." says the artist. "In my work buildings and forests are inscribed with loss. The houses become dead houses, completely sealed, that contain the memories inside them. The forests stand in for absent memory; they are placeless and disclose nothing to the viewer.“

Both photography series will be on view at the Lithuanian Embassy in London.
Indrė Šerpytytė was born in Lithuania in 1983. She received her BA Hons Editorial Photography at the University of Brighton, and MA from Royal College of Art, in London, where she lives now. In 2009, she was awarded the Hoopers Gallery and Metro Imaging prizes for “1944 – 1991” series. The works has also been acquired by the Victoria and Albert museum for their photography collection. Previously she was awarded the prestigious Jerwood award for “A State of Silence” series. Her work has been published in Portfolio, Hotshoe and The British Journal of Photography. Šerpytytė has been exhibiting in various galleries in United Kingdom and most recently at the Hoopers gallery (London).

The exhibition is open from 2 October until 18 December at the Lithuanian Embassy in London (84 Gloucester Place, London W1U 6AU, Tube: Baker Street)

Opening times: Monday-Friday, from 10 am until 5 pm. Free entrance.

Private view: 2 October, 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm. Indrė Šerpytytė in conversation with Martin Barnes, the Senior Curator of Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 

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