Andy Ford
Aleksandras Ostasenkovas
Regina Sulskyte
Juozas Bindokas
Claire Parr
Rolandas Parafinavicius
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Rytojus prasidejo vakar is a unique documentary photographic project started in northern Lithuania in March 2004, which continued year on year to 2008.

Participants in the project were members of the rural communities of Zagare; an ancient historical town near the northern border with Latvia, and the farming villages of Pocuineliai and Skemiai .

The project began as an idea around three issues; As a means of communicating the serious concerns of rural people, in the face of rapid social and economic change overtaking their communities at the present time; To preserve a record of the present history of rural Lithuania before it is too late; To increase general understanding about the power of art as communication and the confidence in self-expression which involvement in such activities can bring to a community.

In short, the project aimed to raise the profile of rural life and to give the people a public voice.


From the beginning, it was intended that the people of the communities would make their photographs unaided. In the same way, amateur family photograph albums become filled with telling historical detail when viewed from a distance of time.

Film and cameras were handed out to all who wished to take part, with some suggestions about what might be interesting to later generations and historians. It was stressed that the quality of the photographs was not relevant; the aim was to make a comprehensive record of daily life.

Nijole Kalinaitiene community author at preview Siauliai,
April 2004.
hoto: Rolandas Parafinavicius

Over 1000 photographs were taken. The variety of images, of all aspects of life, reflects the wide range of people who took part, the youngest was seven years old and the oldest was over seventy. The photographs were taken using film donated by shops and individuals in Britain, who remain interested in the project.


Four Lithuanian photographers took part in the initial project, Aleksandras Ostasenkovas, Regina Sulskyte, Rolandas Parafinavicius and Juozas Bindokas; all experienced artists who live and work in Siauliai.

Andy Ford and Claire Parr, photo artists from Manchester, UK joined the project because of their experience in community work.

During the period of the project, the photographers made their own professional record of community life and were on hand to offer advice and encouragement. The British artists, experienced in working with communities, were resident in the communities for 10 days from March 24 – 2 April. The role of the Lithuanian professional photographers was to visit the communities to talk with the people and to make their own photographic records.

The shared language and experience between the community participants and the Lithuanian artists affected confidence and understanding of ideas and contributed to the final outcome in a very positive way.

First Exhibitions of the final work took place for five weeks during April - May 2004.

Two exhibitions took place simultaneously during the period of celebrations covering accession to the EU in the regional city of Siauliai., northern Lithuania.

The work of the six professional photographers was displayed in an exhibition in the Laptai Cultural and fine art gallery in the city.

Pocuineliai Folk singers,
Siauliai preview April 2004.
Photo: Wendy Rowe

In a seperate, linked exhibition, the work of the community authors was displayed in the Ausros Photographic Museum in Siauliai. The negatives of the community work will eventually be archived in in this museum.

The whole body of community photographs was displayed in th exhibition.
350 photographs were enlarged in four size formats and mounted on foam board for the wall display. The rest (over 1000) were displayed in eight albums in the gallery.


As a separate feature, old photographs from family albums, including many from the soviet periods, were projected onto the wall during the exhibition.

Projection of Old Photographs from family albums. Siualiai exhibition,
April 2004


Together these two exhibitions encompass a range of perceptions of the same events.

First the perceptions of the people themselves, as they live their lives; secondly, the perceptions of the Lithuanian artists who share the history and culture of those they have observed, though the lives are different from their own.

In contrast, the British artists have observed people and situations within a culture, which is new to them. Their viewpoint springs not only from their immediate observations of a community at work and play, it is also coloured by their own histories and by their assumptions about the culture and the communities they are working with and observing.

Face to face with the varied, sometimes conflicting images of the same subject, the viewer questions his/her own earlier perceptions. Previous assumptions and prejudices are stimulated and challenged.

Continuation of record and further exhibitions.

The communities are now in their third consecutive year of recording the unprecedented rate of change which affects their well being and previously secure way of life. Both communities are aware that they are taking part in a fairly unique self recording of living history.

There has been great interest in this work, leading to requests for the exhibitions and further documentary work to take place both within Lithuania and in Britain and Latvia.





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