The nearest point to the free world, 1989. Portable Landscapes, LCCA
Text from the exhibition-catalogue "Portable Landscapes", LCCA Riga:
Ingela Johansson has revisited an almost forgotten historic event: the Gotland study week, which took place in Katthammarsvik in August 1989, just ten days before the Baltic Way, a political demonstration in which a human chain was formed across the Baltic countries. With her works she tries to fill in the gaps left after rereading and understanding history as it has been officially written.
Before the end of the Iron Curtain, the island of Gotland was the closest Western territory to the occupied Baltic States. On the island’s east coast, in Katthammarsvik, a group of dissident representatives and exiled Lithuanians from all over the world met in secret over the course of a week to try to come to an agreement on the path towards independence. Johansson’s video essay The nearest point to the free world, 1989 reveals in a non-linear way what was at stake during that week. Material she has filmed is weaved together with original tapes from the meeting, forming a body in which old footage is juxtaposed with the new, and layers of time are overlapped.
Johansson’s particular interest during her research on the independence movement has been the contributions of cultural workers – and especially, of actors from the Youth Theatre in Vilnius – to the Gotland meeting. The exiled Lithuanian artist Eugenius Budrys was one of the organizers of the study week, together with his closest friend, the architect and freedom fighter Jonas Pajauijs. Budrys’ artistic practice is thus represented in the exhibition with four of his paintings. Johansson vaguely remembers from her childhood the events involved in the regaining of independence by the Baltic countries, and thus her own paintings are a playful yet sincere attempt to comment on and relate to the abstract works produced by Eugenius Budrys throughout his history of exile.
"Tuut-tuut" and "Loppa"
Photo: Margarita Ogolceva
Detail: Paintings by Eugenius Budrys