Daily Rituals of Work and Play – The Collective Life of a Village 1975-2012 is the first major survey exhibition in the UK of Lithuanian artist-photographer Rimaldas Vikšraitis (b. 1954, Sintautai, Lithuania). The exhibition spans nearly 40 years of Vikšraitis’ artistic practice, from early unseen archival material and 8mm films through to 70 photographic works, a large number of which are being shown for the first time.
The photos on display in Daily Rituals of Work and Play explore creativity and disability, challenge gender roles and attest to ‘Europe’ as seen from its eastern edge in Lithuania. Many of the photos document the demise of traditional village life in Lithuania before and after the break-up of the Soviet Union (1988-91).
Vikšraitis won the Discovery Award 2009 at the Rencontres d’Arles for the photographic series Grimaces of the Weary Village. His practice focuses on the daily rituals of work and play that structure rural life; and the traditional rural customs that mark the most significant communal events such as weddings, funerals, courtship rituals – which Vikšraitis sees as sacraments, truly collective acts which are faithfully observed by entire villages all at once.
Since the mid-1970s Vikšraitis has created a series of performative self-portraits exploring and challenging gender role-play in a way almost unparalleled in Eastern Europe. His work is decades ahead of its time and an extraordinary act of bravery against powerful authority, revealing artistic experimentation and freedom against all the odds.
The exhibition has been curated by the Lithuanian-born, Newcastle-based artist- photographer, researcher and independent curator Janina Sabaliauskaite, who says:
“I am feeling beyond excited for the opportunity to be working with artist photographer Rimaldas Vikšraitis, to have researched his archive to such a personal level and to bring a collection of his mostly previously unseen works to the UK; showing both documentary and constructed images and portraying his curious eye for everyday, play and communities.’
Rebecca Ball, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture said that the team at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, “are so pleased to have been able to work with Janina Sabaliauskaite on this project to bring this significant collection of Vikšraitis’ photographs to the UK. The photographs are both bold and intriguing and I hope visitors to NGCA will really enjoy the exhibition.”
Rimaldas Vikšraitis : Daily Rituals of Work and Play – The Collective Life of a Village 1975-2012
1 October 2022 – 15 January 2023
Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art
c/o National Glass Centre