SummaryHistory and memory have been the conceptual core of many Lithuanian photography based contemporary art works as well as international curatorial art projects, including authors from different Baltic countries. On the one hand, this indicates the relevance of the subject related to photography and memory; on the other hand, it also shows the overexploitation of personal and historical memory in contemporary photography and in contemporary art in general.In this context the article analyses Romualdas Požerskis’ personal album photographs from the years 1971–1975 and his written diaries from the years 1965–1985. The photographs captured Požerskis’ and his friends’ leisure activities, mainly rides on motorcycles across Lithuania and one trip to Tallinn, Estonia. The diary reflects the key historical events of the time, describes Požerskis’ attitude to it and reveals his personal emotional, intimate experiences. The beginning of the seventies was the time when the now famous Lithuanian photographer Požerskis was still a student, who did not consider himself a creative photographer. However, his photographs and diary from this period have been published in a book “Restless Riders” in 2017 putting this visual and written material in between the private and the public, and in between creative photography field and visual history of the country’s past.The aim of the article is to show how personal photography can help to restore or even create collective memory. To reach this aim the article addresses the respective tasks of explaining the importance of photography’s emotional content in building up a collective memory and revealing how the way in which Požerskis’ personal photo album and private diaries relate to collective memory is distinctive in the context of photography-based Baltic contemporary art.The article claims that the “Restless Riders” case is different because of its emotional content unmediated by interdisciplinary presentation, art’s conceptual framework or amendments to its visual form. Although it is impossible for the beholder to restore the emotional experience of the author, it is not difficult to let the photographs trigger his or her own memories or imaginary vision of the past. This in turn fills the personal story of photographer with emotion and lets it be seen as part of a liveable historical narrative. This narrative, visualized and made public has the potential to add up to the cultural myth, or in other words, common memory and assumptions, which support the identity of community and nation.
Art History & Criticism – de Gruyter
Published: Dec 1, 2020
Keywords: personal photo album; memory; collective memory; alternative youth culture; hippies in Lithuania; Romualdas Požerskis