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TBT 1950s


The project started with memories of my grandfather and an immeasurable curiosity of mine. With this work I intend to open people’s eyes and make them wonder about what are the most important things in each of our lives. 


   My new project is a documentary artwork showing working class Lithuanians and their lives from 1950s to 1990s. I got inspired while thinking about the true values of today’s society. Seeing three year olds, barely walking, with huge heavy iPads in their hands, while their parents are busy on the phones, made me think about my childhood. The shock of how everything has changed so much during the past 20 years just enhanced my curiosity to explore the time even before I was born. 


   A year ago for my birthday my grandfather gave me an old carton box, which said “ИГРЫ XXII ОЛИМПИАДЫ МОСКВА 1980” (22nd OLYMPIC GAMES, MOSCOW, 1980). I opened it and found 42 developed film rolls. My grandpa mentioned that he took the photographs himself many years ago, but still today he has no idea what is on them. I got even more excited and felt the urge to scan the negatives. Now that I have seen all the photographs and examined every little details in them, I cannot stop admiring and comparing them to the world and people we live between today. While looking at the images it seems that back in those days everything was way simpler. People did not have a lot of money, modern technologies surrounding them, fancy brand clothing or posh bottles of champagne at their birthdays and it looks like they were even happier than all the people nowadays. People were living slowly, fulfilling their days with experiences and not materialism. They loved each other differently, they spent their time differently, they enjoyed their time differently – their values of life and people were distant from the one we have today. Noticing the disparity, I got inspired to show that to everybody else and make people think again about the truths  and values of our lives. Do we set our priorities right? What are those priorities? Are we still able to love that deeply and sincerely? Do we still enjoy little things in life? Do we still care about each other honestly instead of always thinking just about ourselves? Are we still able to communicate with each other without screens in front of our faces? Is there anything purposeful and deep left to communicate about…?


   I decided to interview my grandfather in order to find out more about the photographs and the history of them. I called him every Saturday evening and he drowned me in oceans of stories about the photographs, which helped me to look at the photos not only with my personal interpretation, but also to better understand a certain time in Lithuania, people’s lives and their priorities. Although, I was able to apply my own interpretation about a certain time while just looking at the images, they were not always the true reflection of the lived experience of my grandfather. I recorded our conversations and picked out quotations of his memories. I left pieces of quotations in the live recordings that I pasted in the video. The video I made is for the viewer to feel the immersive experience of my grandfather, while hearing his aged voice, Lithuanian music from those times and the nostalgia of a certain period, even though it was not easy. The quotations I picked are very abstract in order to give the viewer some room to interpret the old photographs and to compare life now and days 60 years ago.

  This project already attracts people’s attention because of the impressive age of the original photographs. The project also asks the viewers to take a deeper look into the photos, compare them with today’s world and reconsider the beauty of a human being, true values and purpose of our lives. 

© Ieva Astrauskaitė 2024
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