Category

Kaunas

A little light in dark times

The lucky ones who were handed a visa for Curacao went on a major trip through the width of Russia, to end up on a ship in Vladivostok. After a few days of sailing, they entered the small Japanese port of Tsuruga. There they were welcomed by representatives of the Jewish community of Kobe, which escorted them to Kobe to give them a new home away from home. Thanks to the little lights of two men, they escaped the dark times of WW-II to enter in the light of the Japanese culture. This poem tries to put into words what these people must have felt upon arrival. It is one of the texts used in our exhibition in the Kanna Art Festival.

BOW
fleeing from terrorlight
fear in their veins
travelling into the unknown
escaping the horrors
by some simple empathy
insecure future
anxiety upon arrival
to find respect
in a simple bow
acknowledging them
as individuals
who’s lives do matter

Yesterday we said ‘till soon!‘ to our dear friends of the Kaunas Photogallery, to all other people we got to know during our stay and to those we just recently met during our Artist Talk in the Gallery. Till soon! because we know that we will come back, that our work is not finished yet. And that together we can form one mighty team!

So till soon! and until that moment; we will cherish our beautiful memories together!

NB.
For those interested;  our presentation can be viewed here. And if you want to know more, get involved or just be kept up-to-date, just drop us an e-mail at hello@wewest.eu!

soon

 

Our last day in Kaunas. As we are preparing our presentation and film for our Artist Talk later today, we contemplate our stay as the Artists in Residence. It is with mixed feelings that we will go home again. It is certainly not a goodbye but more a seen you again, soon! Not only because we will finish our project here in Kaunas but also because the people we met have a place in our hearts and minds. The incredible friendliness in an often dark and gloomy place, the willingness to go along on our route of rekindling empathy and the experiences we shared, have made our visit something that will be in our minds and works for a long, long time.

Now it is time to go back home. To find the funds to travel to Kobe, Jerusalem, Eindhoven and Shanghai. To work with students in these places on their Art of Empathy and to bring all that material back to Kaunas to work with the great people of the Kaunas Photogallery on publishing this volume of work and thereby fuelling society’s debat on empathy. Only together we can define a better world for all of us.

just like snow
dancing
in the rays of the sun
a little ballet of nature
used as inspiration
in our relations
to find a future
with light for all

 

Our inspiration today, we found it on the 4th floor of a small apartment building, just around the corner.  We had the incredible privilege to visit the studio of Romualdas Požerskis, one of Luthania’s most outstanding photographers of the past 40 years. Together with his three friends (Antanas Sutkus, Aleksandras Macijauskas and Romualdas Rakauskas) they were a band of four that (against the state), worked extremely hard to put their country on the map by means of their photography.

Going through his images one couldn’t be more impressed by the crafts of the man who all his life had done his own developing and printing. So incredibly beautiful and technically perfect, it reminded us that we (and digital) still have a long way to go.

Especially true when you realise that all four of them more or less used the same approach, yet with completely different outcome. Sometimes for 20 years, they simple went with their subjects and photographed them. Day in, day out. Until they had a body of work that was immens and could only be shown when the time was right. Romualdus showed us his work for the ‘Catholic holidays’, which he started to shoot in 1974 and could only publish it in 1988. We seriously doubt whether there is one contemporary photographer able and willing to put so much time in their projects.

We are only one month on our way in this project…. pfff by his measures still an immense long way to go 🙂

inspiration

In our lives, we humans sometimes just run on and on in our search for more and bigger.
In this way we miss out on a lot of things and often forget that we can’t take everything that happens in our lives just for granted.

During WW-II it was the Jews who couldn’t take anything for granted and could only show deep gratitude for Mr. Philips Radio and Mr. Siguhara writing them the visa’s to safer shores. Perhaps an extreme example?! Nowadays things are not so very much different with refugees from i.e Syria who desperately hope that there will someone able and willing to grant them a future. For themselves and their family.

Not taking things for granted also means more awareness.
You are much more aware of what’s happening around you and who is there for you. Even today, when we had a meeting with the printer Kopa here in Kaunas, you can notice the friendliness and enthousiasme that they gave us in helping to realise the most beautiful books.

Just likt this Artist in Residence from Kaunas Gallery was for us a gift.
Something we never expected but are intensely grateful for. For the people we met, the students we worked with, the things we learned and the millions of impressions the city and its people gave us. It strengthens our belief that empathy is something we can’t take for granted. That we need to use it at every occasion and in every encounter we have. To let people experience that when you don’t take things for granted, when you are aware of your own perceptions, we can you feel empathy for the other, the world becomes just that little bit more beautiful and worthwhile!

Ačiū Kauno ir jo gyventojai

granted

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