The Lithuanian artist Deimantas Narkevicius is widely celebrated on the international art scene for his uncompromising yet poetic film and video works, which often take the communist experience as a starting point. Winner of the 2008 Vincent Van Gogh award for contemporary art, he was described by the jury as an artist who has an immense impact on his audience and who ‘shows us that the only way we can possibly grasp the contemporary socio-political situation in Europe is by re-examining the past’. A trained sculptor, Narkevicius calls his moving image works ‘a sort of extension of my sculpture’ and describes his films as ‘digital sculpture’. Narkevicius’s first London exhibition opens at BFI Southbank Gallery on 1 October 2009 and its showing coincides with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The exhibition also coincides with a wider season of screenings taking place at BFI Southbank looking at the idea of a ‘New Europe’.
To make his new commission, Narkevicius was given access to explore the ETV Collection, a vast assortment of some 12,000 films from socialist countries, held at the BFI National Archive. Focusing on material from the socialist period in East Germany dating from the 1960s to 1980s which documented everyday life, he is currently creating a new film combining existing footage and soundtracks. The new commission, called Into the Unknown will be shown in the Gallery alongside his award-winning The Dud Effect (2008), shot in a disused Soviet army base in Lithuania.
On the surface, the films of Narkevicius seem to reflect the communist experience, but in fact they go far beyond. They examine the perception of historical memory, which can be modified by ideologies and utopias, and reveal how memory is subjective and the moving image can deceive.
About Deimantas Narkevicius
Born in 1964 in Utena, Lithuania, Deimantas Narkevicius lives and works in Vilnius. He graduated from the Art Academy in Vilnius as a sculptor and spent a year in London in the early 1990s. On his return to Lithuania he was concerned with site-specific objects, but a strong interest in narrative led him to record interviews with artists. This process evolved into an exploration of different narrative structures through film and video, the work for which Narkevicius is now best known. He has shot to international fame since representing Lithuania at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, and has exhibited worldwide with solo shows in France, Belgium, Spain, Lithuania and Germany.