Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus
media artist & critic
VIDEO ART & RECORDS
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus has been known as a media artist for quite a long time, but not everyone remembers his early video artist’s activity, which started in 2002. Most of the video was created in the method of college: combination of different web cam shots applied to numerous softwares, which is usually used separately in photo and video postproduction. The method of collage enables one to identify video art as a pure amazing view, or to talk about video as a painter’s or graphic’s interpretation of his own inner personal world.
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘The Last Supper of the Last Christ’ 00:05:15, 2002. Voice: Ph. D. Salomėja Jastrumskytė
The Destruction of Images
On the one hand, R. Venckus destroys the records in every video, on the other hand, he keeps searching the ways of expression, which could be recognised as a reflection of western pictures tradition; thus, the video of the author is based on the knowledge of abstract painting, graphic and drawing history. He also turns back to the history of contemporary visuality, he quotes the different aspects of conceptual art linking us to the roots of video art or experimental cinema.
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘Horror’ 00:09:16, 2003
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘Somewhat Strange Motif of the Road’ 00:05:25, 2005
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘Genetic Art’ 00:03:26, 2005
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘Sunday Novelty’ 00:02:49, 2005. Voices: Ph. D. Salomėja Jastrumskytė & Remigijus Venckus
The Concrete Borders
The way of the Venckus video art is similar to his photography. All the time, the artist analyzes media equipment and provokes us to think: where are concrete borders between normal and abnormal images, literal narratives and visual abstractions, objectively subtractive reality and intuitive life, clear documentary and amazing poetry, and the like. In addition, the last factor (poesy) is still very important to Venckus, many of his videos being based on different parts of contemporary poetry; Venckus says: ‘Poetry/poesy frees me from the world and enables art to breathe’.
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘Cow Poesy’ 00:08:05, 2009
On Social Problems
Nowadays, the author creates video films based on social problems. From time to time he cherishes ideas, which find their source in his photographer’s activity: a human’s identity and the studies of the male body and sexuality.
In the last few years, the character that appears in Venckus’ videos is his person as ‘the artist’. He reflects on the relation of the artist to his urban, social and political surroundings. In his works, the author puts himself as an example of someone who has received antipathy from professional and social levels. Working with male nudes, the artist has been confronted with resentment and hostility on the part of the audience. He also reflects on the status of his country as a member of the European Union and a post-socialist society.
The latest films by Venckus may be understood as a meaningful gesture of denial or negation, at the same time, it turns out to be a sculptural process, as the portrait shot becomes a contemporary moving bust. Another brand new set of video will combine strong music rhythms, dance performances and city scapes, bringing together the classical body figuration and urban space.
The last but not the least fact is that Venckus hasn’t been specially educated as a video artist, however, he has being successfully educating himself through getting interested in the latest literature, movies, documentaries and experiments. He has also been lecturing on video art in Lithuanian Universities for 15 years. His students have already gained enough skills to become video and visual artists, film directors, producers and screen makers for pop music. After Venckus’ courses, the students have successfully studied moving images in the higher educational institutions of the UK, Scandinavia and Western Europe.
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘Love’ 00:05:23, 2009
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘Lost in Action’ 00:05:12, 2010
The Letter, 2018
‘The Letter’ is a new R. Venckus’ video film, which was presented in the exhibition ‘Baltic Appearances – Baltische Erscheinung’ in Berlin’s gallery ‘World in a Room’ (Brunhildstraße 7, 10829 Berlin-Schöneberg) 03 March of 2018.
The background of the movie. ‘The Letter’ is an experimental dance movie based on the soundtrack from Remigijus Venckus’ and Kęstutis Venskūnas’ – Fingus’ sound performance ‘Litany of the Forbidden Fruit’. The performance was presented at the International Media Art Festival ENTER 8 in the textile factory ‘Verpstas’ ( Trakai st. 43 Šiauliai, Lithuania) on 23 April of 2010. The festival subject was Sound Art.
Before the performance, K. Venskūnas – Fingus and R. Venckus had been cooperating for several years. K. Venskūnas created a musical background for the opening of R. Venckus’ exhibition ‘Between Us Men’ (2009); he also created a sound track for the movie ‘Cow Poetry’ (2009). Currently, both artists are preparing to shoot an experimental feature-length video film.
The idea of the sound performance ‘Litany of the Forbidden Fruit’ has been inspired by a collection of art essays organized by R. Venckus for several years. The essay texts were first presented in Lublin (Poland) in 2009 in line with R. Venckus’ photography exhibition ‘Feelings’ Diary’. The sound was a feature fragment from the most recent collection of R. Venckus’ essays ‘Gabriel’s Dream’.
Ph. D. Remigijus Venckus ‘The Letter’ 00:05:12, 2018
Additional information. Duration – 00:09:40. Creative team: Ph.D. Remigijus Venckus (idea, screen, vocals & poetry), Denis Stech (choreography & dance), Kęstutis Venskūnas – Fingus (music), Ph. D. Kristina Stankevičiūtė (translation). Soundtrack from Remigijus Venckus and Kęstutis Venskūnas – Fingus sound performance ‘Litany of the Forbidden Fruit’ 2010.
R. Venckus on the concept of performance. On 4 April of 2010, before the start of the Easter Sunday Mass, I saw a few elderly women near the main entrance to Šiauliai Cathedral. Those old women were protesting against the gay parade in the capital of Lithuania and called upon every Lithuanian citizen to express his/her opinion and sign the protest petition. Some, if not most public figures, intellectuals, politicians and educators have long forgotten the purport of slogans escalating human rights. Having lost their memory, sold their beliefs and got lost in the contemporary vicissitude of public opinion, these individuals have long been stirring the cultural waters of our country, seeking to prohibit any free speech and human right to their very nature and to ban every word about the right to equal social status. The concept of a democratic and free nation has long been ignored. The images of saints are waved every day under cover of their pure power. The aim of the performance is actually to open discussions about the equality of sexual minorities. Mine and my colleague’s goals, just like the goal of any other citizen of the right, free and democratic Lithuania, shall be to question the current realities by means of artistic expression, to contribute to the improvement of Lithuania and to achieve the legal equality of people who were born and live in the country.
Performance structure. The performance is composed of three parts as follows: Letter, Repentance, and Sacrifice. The performance is dominated by a text, which is read, roared out, sung and performed in other unconventional ways by R. Venckus. The structure and performance of the text reminds the viewer of reading a litany. Reiteration of sounds, words and phrases alongside repetition and recurrence of sentences sounding similarly and starting with the same letter or word, however, framed in a different manner make the whole piece a kind of meditation form. The text influences the musical rhythm framework moulded by K. Venskūnas. The musical rhythm makes the impression of an abundant urbanised space. In some parts, the rhythm becomes monotonous, meanwhile, in other parts it sharpens or breaks. Computerized sounds are combined in a unanimous composition. These sounds simulate various instruments in a subtle manner. Aggressive word meanings and their rhythmical chime, a lyrical reading intonation and an ominous bawl or singing of the text interflow in the work. This work is performed live, with its structure and length not strictly regulated. The course of the performance is hardly predictable. The stage performance is complemented by the sound performance.
Rebirth of the main performance idea and soundtrack. The beginning and end of the video ‘The Letter’ are framed by snowy winter urban landscapes, which are periodically supplemented by English quotations from R. Venckus’ poetry. The other movie episodes were presented by the dance of a young male synchronically moving with the sound rhythm in an abandoned building basement. The movie structure could be understood as a distinguished drama of inner and outward feelings. The urban space disclose a melancholic and separate world from one’s private live and storm dramas within the walls.
The electronic music soundtrack was overloaded with R. Venckus’ voice. The author sings his poetry as a manifest for love. Alongside with the structure of soundtrack and the young male movement, the spectators are invited to identify the artist’s position: ‘there are no legal or illegal, normal or abnormal, prohibited or not prohibited love forms. Love exists as it is, love has been never waiting for any permissions of anybody. Love is the best that a human can feel. To be in love with love is a biggest challenge for the artist who strives to disclose the true beauty of life and teach others to lead a real life, with all kinds of feelings.
Thus, the artist invites us to look back to the words from the Bible: ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres’ (Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version; NIV).
Dancer’s opinion. The dancer of the movie Denis Stech noticed that he was glad to start working with the great artist R. Venckus. Participation in this film was a great experience to him because he had to dance only once in accordance with the music composition. Dancing in a small cellar was a big challenge, however, he thought everything was pretty good. D. Stech expressed his thanks to R. Venckus for the opportunity to be part of the exhibition in Berlin and he hoped that that was just the beginning of their future cooperation!