Problem of Self-Memorialisation in Lithuanian Contemporary Textiles

Lijana Šatavičiūtė (PDF)

This article seeks to answer the question: What is the reason behind the spreading desire of Lithuanian textile artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries to depict themselves and their own bodies? Is this fashion an imitation or a distinctive feature compared to textiles produced in other countries? This is especially true as Lithuanian artists engage in digital technologies that are fashionable in contemporary art and use weaving, felting, appliqué, and other purely textile techniques to depict themselves.

The first group of self-depictions includes staged photographs representing the authors and their works. They involve a two-step production process: first, the artist creates a specific work of textile emphasising the texture of the materials used, and then a photograph is taken of the author together with the work of art.

Works belonging to another group are more traditional: the representations of the author or his/her companion are transferred onto the textile piece. Sometimes, it is done with the help of digital technology. Sometimes, photography serves as an aid, based on which the human figure is woven, embroidered or depicted using other methods. This group, whose authors follow different ideas, includes works showing felting, embroidery and other techniques. Among them are photo fabrics by Lina Jonikė and Bogdanienė portraying their own bodies, nudes woven by Vita Gelūnienė and torsos and portraits by Laima Oržekauskienė showing her close friends. Unlike Western European textile artists who employ modern technology, Lithuanian artists tend to use hand-made and archaic technologies more frequently.

The tendency for self-portraiture has been encouraged by a changed historical situation of the state, opened boundaries, contact with Western textiles art and the implementation of new creative forms in the academic educational system. Contributions were also made by artists hungry for untried means, who started presenting previously forbidden subjects and employing new means to embody their ideas. Human representation was promoted by the increasing popularity of photography and the assimilation of media tools. In addition, some influence was exerted by the global wave of new realism and figurativism that stimulated a variety of transformations of realist and figurative art. The importance of one of the leitmotivs of postmodernism, the attention to the body and the blurring of the boundaries between private and public life should be noticed, too.

Keywords: Lithuanian contemporary textiles, new figurativism, Lithuanian contemporary photography, bodies in art, postmodernism tendencies in Lithuania