Vilija Vitkute’s creation works are known to few people inLithuania, while at the same time in Sweden she is awarded a nominal cultural scholarship as a visual arts developer.
As a schoolgirl she was called a desperate artist, and now is a woman making her living from art. There are no taboos in her life. So, in urban chats-Vilija Vitkute, a young talented Lithuanian presented. Lots of ideas are swarming in her head.
Vilija, may be most people know nothing about You here, in Lithuania, and to describe Your creation works is not enough to tell about photography or body painting. How do You explain what kind of art You create? What stories do You tell by Your works?
Really, style confusion is present in my works. I am not limited to one. I am engaged in visual arts: traditional fine arts, avant-garde, artistic photography, video arts and applied arts. My works mostly have no sketches. I constantly improvise, so there are plenty of various details, when watching them one can notice something new each time. I like to experiment with visions and feelings, which I want to reach, boldly and unconstrained. I am trying to tell more stories- what is happening on the earth, from the origin of life till its disappearance, also about travelling, love, wild people, courage, problems, music etc.
Great ideas in the head of a young artist. How do they occur? How does the very photograph appear? To create such kind of works one needs not only much time, but also plenty of fantasy and money.
I give myself to emotions, instructive stories, the desire to feel what another person or an animal feels. I give myself to the emotion of surrounding environment, so I open my heart, eyes, mind fearlessly, and travel. After some traveling and learning I simply record everything. And I get money by the help of fantasy and ideas, which I have plenty. I make living from creation work.
How could the scene of the ideal world, made of Your works, look like?
My world…The time is different in it, youth is longer, more colourful, an adult is more free, courageous, creative, loving and more original. Old age is more cheerful, not so lonely, pain is not so frightful. These are the most wonderful years before the even longer travel. High moral values present here. No religion is here, people are not afraid of changing. The relations between everything alive-people, nature and environment, are respectful and reasonable. There is more True Love and absurdity so little. Values are different-everything of the utmost importance is nearby. A human being fights for knowing the beauty of the world, finding new things, love, real values of life and harmony. At the moment I see this scene.
You quote Maya Angelou, an American writer, in the online account: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” How would You like to feel them while watching Your creations?
I would like that people while watching my creations become calm, live the very moment and just enjoy what they see from the bottom of their hearts. Just try to empathize, hear, smell and feel the inspiration.
Do You believe that creative people can help to solve problems or form human values?
Surely. It is one of the main, healthiest means of forming real human values and teaching to solve their problems. It would be worth investing time, attention and money.
“Other species” is the title of a series of photographs. First of all some connection to racism and discrimination arises. What is the main subject dealt with in these photographs? What features of the ”other species” could be distinguished?
“Other species” is not racism or discrimination, it is the project on immortal person’s soul language. It is a travel and its secrets, which I tried to guess or bring to surface. It is very difficult to think and tell about the titles. So I won’t dilate on the subject this time. My creations are telling everything, so the way You understand, that is the answer.
What do You think about “otherness” in the age of modernity and equalization? The word ”other” makes us think whether you are not ejected to peripheral zone. Is it important to You to be some ‘’other” ?
Mostly I am surrounded by creating, understanding, fond of creation works people, so I don’t feel myself ejected to peripheral zone. I don’t feel myself different too much, I am myself simply. I am doing what is important to me- creating. I am creating something fresh, new, interesting and different, what could inspire to live both “other” and not “other” people in the age of modernity.
What is Your key to tame the heroes You photograph? It is so much distrust, search for benefit, individualization in the modern world. It could be not so easy to speak to people and to paint on their body later.
Heroes find me themselves. They like my courage, crazy ideas, choice of places, and they simply want to be part of it. That’s why it is very well both for them and me.
Before creative activities we get acquainted, become friends most often- I don’t feel sorry for the time. We drink coffee, tea or wine, go to a concert, cinema or exhibition. We discuss a variety of life topics. Home surrounding nature allows to relax and concentrate on creation work. The very process, body painting and photographing is rather prolonged (a day, sometimes even two-Vilija specifies) and cheerful. It is not the end, we don’t say goodbye to the heroes, the relation remains and we meet time to time, create something again.
You don’t hide the admiration to Iceland, which You visited while creating your photographies. Why did it enchant You? What surprised You most?
Icelandenchanted, charmed me by its nature, fauna, music, arts, culture, people. I felt like coming home-peace around you, people fond of life, its colours, which are so bright and fresh. The heart was happy every moment, spent there, I couldn’t even fall asleep, I was dying of curiosity to see and hear as much as I could. So, at night I watched northern lights. They shot out from the deep darkness and danced a magical colourful dance of lights, filling lots of people’s hearts with light and warmth. The Vatnajokull Glacier made a tremendous impression on me. Melting gigantic ice sculptures floating in the emerald lagoon, which let sounds of breakage and crackle. While watching the scenery you don’t feel your time flying. From early morning till night we traveled by bus, bike, ship or horses through the icy and fieryislandofIcelandin theAtlantic Ocean.
What is Your opinion on the fact that people turn away from nature, don’t save it. If it goes so, what awaits us? You personally are for eco-friendly art.
It is very sad and worrying because of people’s disrespect to nature, cruelty. They should be deported to the moon, or even better to some anti-eco friendly concentration camp. I think, if we don’t learn to be friends with nature and won’t take any actions on time, won’t correct mistakes( which are numerous)- we will drink muddy water, into which we spit. Now it is the time when I, inspired by Chris Jordan’s film “Midway” ,am arranging a workshop in Falun ( a small town inSweden) about eco-friendly art. To my mind, the results will be wonderful and we will succeed to develop the topic and to involve more people.
When a child You understood that You want to create art. You studied in Lithuania, later being 19, You went to Sweden looking for more opportunities. Why is this country more attractive to a young artist?
Opportunities are almost the same. You are allowed to try more, you get increased support, less criticism, better economy. Besides, beautiful and inspiring nature and lots of people of various nationalities, which extend your approach to the world.
InLithuaniamy affairs were not so good. I couldn’t create, so in the summer of 2010 I moved toSweden. I had no choice. I was at a loss the first six months, as it was difficult and sad, but later after the breakthrough I found what I looked for so long , I began creating again with great courage and belief, so I joined a good creative pace at the right place and on the right time.
The fact that You not only photograph , but also body paint, tells us about Your aspiration to be a universal artist. What place in Your life does the education take? What education do You need to create such works of art like Yours?
If you want to create the works like mine, you don’t need any particular education. It is important to know the basics of art, work a lot, not be envious. You need to learn to see in a different way, be able to change yourself and break inappropriate rules. It is useful to read a lot, be interested in other artists, listen to various music, watch films. You have to demand from yourself greatly, but also give yourself plenty of diverse challenges of life and creation work.
Education takes not so important place in my life. I had studied in Eduardas Balsys gymnasium of arts,Klaipeda, for 11 years;Kaunasart gymnasium- for half a year, and in Salys Semeris gymnasium. Studies were not so good for me, I got bad marks, was ill very often. And teachers didn’t like me, morally beat me saying “ you are a free artist”, ‘’hopeless”, “ don’t even dream to enter the Art academy” etc. So, it is maybe natural, that I had never had any wish to study with such kind of constant “professional” urging. The only thing I could was creating, fantasies and working with my visions. I hope that the old soviet attitude to a young creative person will change and more lucid persons will appear, who become examples to a young nascent personality.
By the way, in future I am planning to get new skills at the Film Academy, USA.
This year You were awarded the Culture Stipend, and it is not the first of Your awards, though you are only 21. What does it mean to get one? What award would be the best present to You?
The feeling is fabulous! No doubt, it is a pleasure to be awarded for a well-done creative, pedagogical work in the field of culture. It is also very cheerful when you get a nominal scholarship as it means that I was acknowledged as an exceptional artist inDalarna,Sweden.
I don’t think of awards most often ( laughed), but in future I’d like to get Hugo Awards professional artist, Academy Awards. But it is quite a distance to it.
What ideas are teeming in Your head at this moment?
They are swarming, I can’t even sleep at night… Now all my thoughts about body painting and photography. All the time I think how my works could be done even better, something more than a plain photography, painting or art. So, this time I will try to work more with clothes, decorations and shooting. We will try to leave the photo studio and “ghost” with painted bodies inIcelandand most beautiful places inSweden. And I hope our project will gain much.
If You could choose any problem You could solve with Your photos, what will it be?
I don’t find any answer to the question this time (smiles).