On the 28th of June at 6 p.m. at the gallery "Meno parkas" (Rotušės sq. 27, Kaunas) was opened exhibition "What Is Important?".


A photographic research into European values

An exhibition-project of the foundation of Alfred Toepfer F.V.S., Hamburg.

Under the title “What is important? – A photographic research into European values”, the Alfred Toepfer-Stiftung F.V.S. in cooperation with the Haus der Photographie/Deichtorhallen commissioned selected photographers to explore the role of European values artistically and convert their ideas into photographs. Among others, Joana Deltuvaitė (Lithuania) and André Lützen (Germany), were selected by an international expert panel and received a scholarship for the project. They travelled Europe in search for pictures with the question “What is important?” in the back of their minds. The foundation deliberately retained from defining specific values or limiting the subject any further. The pictures are meant to be thought-provoking and aim to transport the issue of values seen from different points of view into the public consciousness.

The exhibition

The exhibition in Kaunas shows the results of the two photographic researches of André Lützen and Joana Deltuvaitė.

German photographer André Lützen followed the “Perimeter” of Europe and captured snapshots of people he encountered.

Lithuanian photographer Joana Deltuvaitė visited “Squatters” in the cultural centers of London, Amsterdam and Berlin in order to picture their lives.

In spring 2007 the exhibition attracted over 20.000 visitors in Hamburg. Afterwards the exhibition has been presented across Europe and is still moving from place to place.

Now the works are exhibited in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut (Vilnius) and the gallery “Meno parkas” (Kaunas) in the festival “Kaunas in Art. Talking”. The pictures are talking about European experience, reflecting in a universal pictorial language.


Joana Deltuvaitė / Lithuania

Joana 20 cd

Is there such a thing as a culture of unwritten laws, which influences the everyday lives of squatters in the three cities and gives them a common identity? Accompanied by this question I set out to visit squatters in Amsterdam, Berlin and London. I concentrated solely on the environment in which they live. The main issue for me was how people live, not why they live that way. In my own home country, Lithuania, there was a mystic quality about squatters on account of their secluded lifestyle. I lived next door to a squatted house in the capital Vilnius. Sometimes the squatters came round to have a shower. Also one of the most renowned alternative music clubs was based there. The house was later cleared. For this reason I decided to take a closer look at squatters in Western European capitals. During my research I came across very “shut-off” communities of squatters. Although I was allowed inside their houses, I was not allowed in the apartments. Often I had to brush away the suspicion that I came from some housing department, or that I was a journalist in search of a good story. There were houses which looked very bourgeois from the outside, so that I did not expect them to be squatted houses. I deliberately looked at the rooms without their inhabitants, because portraits rarely inspire people to think about other people’s living circumstances. In search of tiny details, I felt I was able to paint myself a picture of these people.


André Lützen / Germany

Lützen 2

The “Perimeter” project is a personal journey to Europe’s border regions. Local border traffic, the exchange of goods and cultures, legal and illegal immigration and religion on its holy days – all these become central issues. The diversity of existing values along the porous edges of Europe – and hence also this project itself – is held together by the language of images. The different levels of thematic content correspond with the different levels of the photographs. However, the project should not be seen as a journalistic stocktaking and detailed examination of all existing conditions. This journey to Europe’s outposts is rather to remain a personal quest, a subjective reflection on Europe – a true excursion from the centre to the very edges of the European identity. The politically explosive aspects only become apparent on closer examination of the private and personal areas of the individual cultural contexts. It is from such observations – rather than the superficial clichés of current political journalism – that we can trace what Europe is and what it can become. What have emerged are image sequences, difficult to classify at first, which resemble a film-like concentration and which develop their narrative rhythm beyond the prejudiced preconceptions about Europe’s borders, as produced by our expectations.

Exhibition was opened till 25th of July.


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