Schleicher + Lange

Gintaras Makarevicius

31 Oct - 21 Nov 2008

© Gintaras Makarevicius, courtesy galerie schleicher+lange, Paris
'Winter Parallels', 2008, HD video, sound, 54'
© Gintaras Makarevicius, courtesy galerie schleicher+lange, Paris
'The Testament of Siberia', 2008, super-8 transfered to video, sound, 14'
Gintaras Makarevicius: Parallels

Gintaras Makarevicius is interested in people who live in extreme conditions, whether through choice or necessity. He explains that he has ‘understood that one question that concerns me the most is what reasons does it take to perform unpleasant, psychologically difficult and often badly paid occupations.’ The two pieces exhibited at the gallery, ‘The Testament of Siberia’ and ‘Winter Parallels’, touch upon two aspects of this preoccupation: human beings subjected to a life of slavery against their will and those who have made a deliberate choice to carry out difficult work.
Life is the very substance of his films. His subjects are his own entourage as well as strangers, whom he follows over long periods of time. Thanks to a talent for making himself discreet, Gintaras Makarevicius captures daily situations whose repulsive nature and slow temporality do not usually attract cameras. Without making judgments, the artist observes as his characters go about their daily lives. He weaves a narrative with neither beginning nor end, conveying moments of introspection and setting up shots which subtly show a gratuitous gesture or a fortuitous moment of happiness.
‘Winter Parallels’, which is set on a freezing winter’s day, juxtaposes lives that do not touch and whose common ground is a commitment to those in a fragile situation: a man who runs an animal rescue center, a social worker, a children’s special needs teacher, a breakdown repair man. The characters are confronted with poverty, insalubrity and death on a daily basis – by vocation. Gintaras Makarevicius does not go into psychology; rather, he reveals the time specific to each task. This time is slow-moving, as the evolution of mentalities can be, or the process of learning for a struggling schoolchild, but also the trickling away of a life spent devoted to others. For some it is slowness, for others it is youth and energy which run dry because of their altruism.
From the point of view of our capitalist countries, Gintaras Makarevicius’ narratives rouse old demons, to an extent which depends on the origins and sensibilities of each viewer. It is moreover this discrepancy that enriches the artist’s works, in particular in the video ‘The Testament of Siberia’. The piece is a collage where words and images are in conflict. This clash embodies the fractious relationship between memory, experience and knowledge, in this instance in relation to past war and the abuse suffered. Every viewer will be able to find resonance of other wars and misery in this video: shot in Super 8, images from the 1960s of a Soviet family celebrating contrast with the narrative of a past which, although recent, already seems distant. We hear a narrator recounting his deportation to Siberia with his family when he was just a child.
Tales as dark as they are distant, told against a background of images of affluence two decades after the deportation, render intangible a story that the narrator himself admits he finds hard to convey, as much to the Lituanian authorities as to the young people who are a reluctant audience to this type of uncomfortable narrative of the past.
In Gintaras Makarevicius’ work the forces of the past and the languidness of the present clash, both in front of the camera and behind it.

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