Soon to be Gone
As far back as in the 1930s, during the times of the Great Depression in the United States, a group of photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Jack Delano, led by Roy Stryker, Head of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), kept restlessly recording views which were soon destined to fade into obscurity. The continuous migration of people moving around in search of easier conditions of life was relentlessly changing the demographical map of the States: homesteads, villages, small towns were disappearing right before the eyes. All this was photographed and put into extensive archives – the effort of those photographers proved not to have been in vain.
A somehow different (thought the outcome is quite similar) process is ongoing in the present-day Lithuania too. Neither in the scope nor the conditions of life should those two situations be compared, though something still prompts us to look for similarities.
Just within the last decade, this continuous migration has caused the population of Lithuania to shrink by almost one sixth. Towns that have usurped the whole economics and are sucking out young people to the cities, inappropriate lifestyle often adopted by the young rural generation – those who are still here – all this is inexorably changing our country. Just one question inevitably arises: for how long will our forests and valleys be adorned by views of homesteads and villages – places where a totally different understanding of time and closeness still exists? For how long will there still be found places where an unexpected visitor is met like a close relative and every passer-by is greeted with a heartfelt ‘hello’?
Every time a thought like that crosses my mind, I, as a photographer, am driven by an instinct to hurry and turn those symbols and places into something more than just memories in the stories of future grandparents. Though a recorded image is incapable of reviving what has been lost, it still lets us remember something that perhaps once, while speeding by, momentarily caught our eye at the roadside. Maybe this monument to the Lithuanian countryside will evoke some sentimentality from the viewer and touch those deeply hidden corners in the memory which we, seemingly inadvertently, have closed up, being used to accept what can be gone very quickly.
Tadas Kazakevičius (1984) is a Lithuanian photographer living and working in Vilnius. He is now working on his first photobook. He is also the photo editor of the Latitude55 – a platform for documentary photography.