While making them, I thought about where people like to immortalise themselves and photograph themselves in particular moments in life; where they tend to stop by, what are the things that draw their eye. For example, during holidays and trips they immortalise themselves next to some interesting architectural objects, monuments, exotic landscapes, etc.
I decided to have a little fun and immortalise myself next to figures of the art world that are interesting to me. To be more precise, next to some of their thoughts they have expressed – as if they were a person next to whom I can portray myself. With this cycle of self-portraits I wanted to create the impression of a set of frozen scenes from a performance, which I would put on if I did not lack the artistry for it. I tried to get deeper into the thought of an artist that was interesting for me and play it, “twist” the soul and body in a way I could become closer to it.
This work has drawn inspiration from two sources:
1. A following quotation from A. Tereškinas’ ‘An Essay on Different Bodies’:
‘Masculinity is not necessarily associated with men as there appears no automatic relationship between masculinity and biological males. Just like male individuals can claim femininity, so masculinity can belong to women. Masculinity and femininity alike are defined through culturally recognizable actions that can be performed by individuals in defiance of their biological body. In separation from a biological body masculinity emerges as a social construct.’
2. Women’s magazines, a veritable cornucopia of advertising messages focused entirely on the external female image: physical beauty, sexual appeal, etc. Perceived as an exclusively outward and physical thing, such an ideal of beauty subjects women to immense social pressure urging to beautify their physical body and makes them feel not beautiful or insufficiently beautiful. In other words quoting A. Tereškinas again, ‘media makes us encounter pornography in everyday life’ – pornography that gratifies the male eye.
In this work I offer a woman’s perspective on the male body.
Translated by Irena Jomantienė
(…) On the other side of the street was Laisvydė Šalčiūtė’s “Shining Women”, which consists of eight portraits of distinguished women. The word “shining” in the name didn’t appear because of the fact that they are being displayed on light boxes, but because the public figures and artists that are portrayed were the enlighteners of those around them. They were all courageous, breaking the norms of the time and achieved much. The only thing that is unfortunate is that the entire street wasn’t decorated with these inspirational personalities, because they shine brighter than stadium lights. The portraits are linked between one another by a map of Vilnius that serves as the background. It was important for the artist for the River Neris to flow through all of them like a vein joining them together. According to Laisvydė, ocean researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said, that water is the most perfect symbol of love.
The idea to focus attention on vivid and influential women is not something that is new (it even re-wrote art history) and has already garnered criticism as an attempt to enter into the system of men, which generally means submissiveness. Šalčiūtė’s “Shining Women” takes on a different meaning (which departs from that of its opposite) in the context of the light festival. Both Marija Gimbutienė and Karen Blixen, along with the other heroes that are presented, are shown as having the courage to be distinct. The rarity of these kinds of personalities is the result of the current gender system, and them being made equal to enlighteners is a reference that we are experiencing a bit of a decline. However, the frustration that important women are ignored on a regular basis in public always hangs in the air. Laisvydė talentedly formulates and engagingly brings to life this bothersome idea for all of us.
7 MENO DIENOS (“7 Days of Art”), Nov 16, 2007 issue nr. 777
From the article “Tourists in Our Own City”
LUX International Light Festival, Vilnius
A Walk in Red Shoes
Women wear red shoes for special occasions. They symbolise a special mood, a playful mood. They are worn often when a woman feels like playing a bit with her surroundings. Red shoes are a sign that the person wearing them wants to be noticed, leave a certain impression, footprint, and provoke her surroundings.
The style of this painting alludes to the art of graffiti. I find graffiti interesting because it is “illegal” art, often anonymous, as of it is someone’s anonymous declarations, letters, proclamations, which are often created secretly, in the night, or on the walls of buildings. They contain a very lively element of playfulness and improvisation.
Thus in this painting, I am also declaring my view towards art, art history, the relationship between the sexes, and my surroundings which are all around me almost as if I am using the traditions of street art as a basis.