The Way of Ethiopia
by Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus
‘The Way of Ethiopia’ is a new art exhibition of a well-known Lithuanian media artist Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus. The artist presents his new a photography cycle of documentaries created in Ethiopia, where he travelled together with his relatives. The trip had been arranged across the country from the eighth to seventeenth of January, 2018. R. Venckus remembered the reason for travelling in that African country:
In the autumn of 2017, I got a call from my cousin who has been living in Norway for seven years. I was invited to go to Africa and to take part in his wedding. Soon, on the 8 January of 2018 my relatives and myself went to Ethiopia where the weather was quite different, a sunny summer and a different style of local life. Our plane descended in Addis Ababa Airport late at night. After the passport control, we went outside to meet our relatives. I hadn’t seen my best cousin for the last five years, and our meeting was kind, enriched with many talks and a long sharing of different impressions. The first night in Ethiopia and even in the streets of the City it was dark with catching up totally strange mixed sounds of local humans and animals. In Africa everything was different from that in Europe: the smells of the City, the colours of the trees, hand shaking of unknown persons and the pollution of the old cars. These differences surprised and frightened me at the same time. Each minute and each hour I wanted to learn more and more about this totally new country to me.
The author of the exhibition and his relatives spent a few days and nights in the capital of Ethiopia and later they went to the savanna. The local people, who accompanied the travellers, showed the non-typical countryside: they told us many different and important stories about the traditions, daily life routines, growing invasion of Chinese capitalism, humans’ survival skills and politic situation related to the ethnical conflicts.
The greatest impressions came from the contrasts of the status of peoples’ properties and behaviour. There are people who still live in the times of an unknown and lost history. They still keep cows, ride asses, live in clay houses, walk barefoot and have just one hope – to believe in God. However, Ethiopia is a country where you can meet poor people who argue their happiness: I am happy because my God is still taking care of me. This was the reason why R. Venckus photographed the smiling faces of the kids, women and elders. The artist made the following comment:
After the African trip, when I closed my eyes I saw smiling people for a short moment. Soon I recovered the faces of poor and dirty kids. I remembered how they begged for money or asked for a sweet. Sometimes they grabbed the sweets out of my hands and ran away, sometimes, they started talking to me, a number of beggars growing in a few minutes or even seconds. At that moment I thought how they grow as humans in the contemporary world, how they are thought to survive every day, without creatively building they own personal lives. The situation hurt my heart even though I understood that only faith really helps to manage all the poor population of Ethiopia. However, but what is more given to people than faith?…
For Europeans to travel alone in Ethiopia could be dangerous, and they might choose between staying in the car or to going outside. All the people live beside the roads, and the travellers could take notice of many different and impressive situations. Even the roads have become the main reason for the title of the new photo documentary. „The Way of Ethiopia“ could be understood as a metaphor of the country’s evolution, the rituals of the people’s lives and the artist’s perception, values and relations to the unknown but amazing Ethiopia. After the trip R. Venckus concluded:
Travels have been very important to me, and I hope the same for everyone who has a wide outlook of life. Every trip to another country verifies my personal place and space. The longer is the distance, the better I understand the City where I am living now and the construct of my personal relations to the concrete society. Each trip provokes my totally new reactions and inspires me to share my feelings in new artistic forms. I mobilise my all receptors and react to the contrasts as a critic and artist at the same time.
Calendar and Posters
09.03.2018 – 31.03.2018. Telšiai Art Gallery of Vilnius Academy of Arts (Kęstutis st. 3, Telšiai, Lithuania). Opening show on 09 March, 5:00 pm. Public presentation, the author’s talk: 09.03.2018, 4 pm.
Press & Additional Info
Press releases (http://www.vda.lt/lt/telsiu-fakultetas/naujienos/fotografijos-paroda-etiopijos-kelias, PDF – VDA / http://www.vgtu.lt/vgtu-naujienu-portalas/naujienos/atidaroma-vgtu-destytojo-fotografiju-paroda-etiopijos-kelias/246059?nid=293182, PDF – VGTU).
Self-reflection on the exhibition: http://culture.venckus.eu/medijos/fotografija/etiopijos-kelias/
Artist about Ethiopija (LT) http://culture.venckus.eu/etiopijos-kelias/