Interview: Antanas Zabielavicius
Luca Curci talks with Antanas Zabielavicius during FUTURE LANDSCAPES, third appointment of BORDERS ART FAIR 2021, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, and during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – THE SECRET GARDEN at Misericordia Archives.
Antanas Zabielavicius is an interdisciplinary artist, theater/cinema artist, and independent curator. Exhibiting and working internationally, Antanas’s work has been shown in the USA, Europe, China, and throughout Lithuania, where he lives and works. As an artist and independent curator, he started from unconventional art activities at the end of the twentieth century. He founded an alternative art space in an abandoned factory where Antanas organized young artists’ international exhibitions. Later he became one of the co-founding directors of the “Global Innovation Studio” and founded an artist network “Kiwi Sources” for promoting innovative art activities of the future. Antanas creates film and theater projects together with his wife, theater/cinema director Ramune Kudzmanaite. He has been working closely with the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in Vilnius for the past few years. Antanas Zabielavičius primarily creates conceptual art objects and installations to explore the relationship between human thought and the challenges of modern life. He uses all possible media needed to reveal ideas. Artist combines everything: life situations, objects, photography, sounds, unexpected natural formations, such as meadow flour or byway sand, and texts playing with material expressions of ideas. Antanas’s creativity can be called a process in which artworks come from the environment and from situations that metaphorically extend one another as if commenting on the artist’s life. Last year has changed the creative work of many artists, their goals. Earlier, before the pandemic, Antanas focused on his ideas and their development. The virus has forced him to stop and delve into this time of waiting. It uncovered many doubts for the artist about the global world concept and gradually changed his understanding of everyday actions, such as breathing or touching. The environment we live in has become filled with recommendations for safe behavior and fear of touching each other. Prospects for the future became vague, and uncertainty became a daily state. As he lived in this way, Antanas realized how vital tactile sensations are to a person. Photo series about touches was born, using the minimal materials available during self-isolation: daylight, glass, and human hands. In this photo attempt, he wanted to re-experience the simple actions of daily life and reveal how cultural symbols related to primary cognition/creation are changing in the current times.
Luca Curci – How did you get to photography? Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
Antanas Zabielavicius – Photography appeared in my life not by chance but as necessary words in the story of modern life. A few years ago, I retired from active exhibition activities and closed in the studio, where I started researching found objects and their interrelationships. In this way, several compositions / still life were born, in which I saw small stories from things about consumer society. That’s when I needed photography to capture the relationship between ‘naked’ reality and my attitude. Thus began the long journey of choosing all the photographic equipment until I finally realized that the most important thing was what was going on this side of the lens, not around it. My first professional photographs were related to time and my insights.
LC – According to you, what makes a good photo? Which details do you focus on?
AZ – My photographs are born from everyday observations and generalizations related to the primary questions of human existence, such as: who we are and where we live. The motifs of my photographs are atypical, often strange, and reflecting the dissonances of these times. I do not seek to catch good shots but aim for confirmation of my reflections. I usually exhibit my photographs together with installations, art objects, and they are part of the overall reflection of reality. This branch of my creative path should be seen as part of a broader artistic research of the environment around us as it is here and now.
LC – When you take photos, are you usually inspired by the situation or do you find inspiration in yourself?
AZ – During the virus, being in self-isolation at home, I once reviewed the catalog of the most outstanding Lithuanian painters of the last century. What surprised me: most interesting to me was not their mastery but the ability to convey the atmosphere of the time. Therefore, I am increasingly watching what is happening in the world than deepening to the other goals of artistic activity.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
AZ – I think the artist of these times is no longer a knight fighter for his ideas, but rather an individual capable of taking advantage of, in a way, to manipulate the world’s cultural heritage in specific contexts. Of course, such a path is flexible and fun, but it completely de-romanticizes the artist as such. Sometimes the interface between art and science affects the creative process similar to laboratory practices, but maybe is this the new romanticism?
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
AZ – I am very close to the creative practices of the Eastern world, and I usually indulge in the natural flow of the creative process, but I still want to have a clear idea of what I am doing and what I want to achieve. Therefore, I would call my path ‘jumping between reasoned and instinctive’.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
AZ – Yes, I like your liquid substance idea. I also try to be a stream and quickly get through all the obstacles. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of Eurocentrism, and not everything is that simple. I was surprised by the drive and intensity of your activity. The topics of the exhibitions you have chosen have proved to be essential and relevant to me. Perhaps I would say timely and necessary. Also, I enjoyed that you chose artists from all over the world. When I looked at the presentation of your activities online, I felt the diversity, the professional back, and the drive I have already mentioned. These are probably the three main things that fascinated me and helped me decide to participate in the exhibition.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
AZ – Last year has changed the creative work of many artists, their goals. Earlier, before the pandemic, I focused on my ideas and their development. The virus has forced me to stop and delve into this time of waiting. It uncovered many doubts about the global world concept and gradually changed my understanding of everyday actions, such as breathing or touching. The environment we live in has become filled with recommendations for safe behavior and fear of touching each other. Prospects for the future became vague, and uncertainty became a daily state. As I lived in this way, I realized how vital tactile sensations are to a person. The photo series about touches was born, using the minimal materials available during self-isolation: daylight, glass, and human hands. In this photo attempt, I wanted to re-experience the simple actions of daily life and reveal how cultural symbols related to primary cognition/creation are changing in the current times.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
AZ – The ITSLIQUID platform is much needed. It does what artists complain about the most – information and advertising. In addition, I noticed that the opportunity to participate in this exhibition was inspiring, which is no less important than the opportunities that open up for each exhibitor.
LC -Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
AZ – The communication with me was beautiful, as was the help with the trouble of transporting the pictures. In other words, you do everything perfectly, and I plan to continue to follow the competitions, exhibitions, etc., that you organize. Would I recommend you to other artists? I do.