I live in the ‘visual society’ where a look becomes a form of power and control, and body – one of the most important instruments for identity expression. Creating this work I chose well–known ‘character’ Mona Lisa, in order to analyse while presenting it in various situations how the identity of subject is being changed or even fading depending from the way its body is depicted.
This work is about daily dress-changing, sort of acting, re-changing and playing with identities, opportunity to have many identities; it’s about the ways how the ‘woman’s image’ stereotypes change depending from dress-changing, stage-setting for the body and also how together with disappearance of external sexual differences the same differences start fading in the body as well.
The Lyricism of Latako Street
At one time there was a confectionary factory called Pergalė located at the end of Latako Street. Its 16 windows even today take up a third of its length. Back then the smell of the biscuits being baked wafted through those windows, and while going by you could catch a glimpse of the rather plump women with white headscarves who were scurrying around near the ovens. The more courageous of the students of the Vilnius Academy of Art would have a chat with them and get cookies on their way back to the dormitory. Later on there were bars placed on those windows, but anyway the smell floating along the entire street, becoming a unique part of its atmosphere and wistfully awakening melancholic feelings, especially in late fall. I created the installation entitled “The Lyrics of Latako Street” inspired from those old memories. I also wanted to oppose the images of women that are made by today’s commercial advertising we come face-to-face with in the city as well as ad posters, which I seemingly neither accept nor dismiss, however they are constantly looming in front of us and echo back from somewhere in little snippets, creating the so-called “background” of modern life, dulling our taste, and possibilities to feel the nuances, a sense of sound, and feelings. The confectionary factory isn’t there anymore on Latako Street, however a number of cultural institutions are there, including three art galleries and the editorial office of a cultural magazine. It ended up, that many women that are participating in Lithuania’s cultural life are putting in hard work there, or simply stop by. I displayed 16 portraits of real women who are currently working, carrying out creative work and visiting exhibits on Latako Street in the 16 empty windows of the Pergalė factory during the Art In Unexpected Places exhibit which is part of the Vilnius European Capital of Culture 2009 programme. Each was shown with a favourite “display” of poetry, expressing feeling, nuance, longing, and passion among many other things. The spectacle was complimented by a performance, during which an attempt was made to try and restore the smell that had left Latako Street long ago. The music of Chavelos Vargas resonated through the windows of the graphic art centre, while a few volunteers made sweet waffles. Passers-by were offered these waffles, and the smell for at least a short while was restored to Latako Street and created a nostalgic atmosphere.