Relationship between the image and the identity of a person in contemporary Lithuanian photography ; Žmogaus atvaizdo ir identiteto santykis šiuolaikinėje Lietuvos fotografijoje

Relationship between the image and the identity of a person in contemporary Lithuanian photography ; Žmogaus atvaizdo ir identiteto santykis šiuolaikinėje Lietuvos fotografijoje

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VYTAUTAS MAGNUS UNIVERSITY ARCHITECTURE AND CONSTRUCTION INSTITUTE Tomas Pabedinskas RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE IMAGE AND THE IDENTITY OF A PERSON IN CONTEMPORARY LITHUANIAN PHOTOGRAPHY Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation Humanities, Art Studies (03 H) Kaunas, 2009 The right of doctoral studies was granted to Vytautas Magnus University jointly with the Architecture and Construction Institute on July 15, 2003, by the decision No. 926 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. Scientific supervisor: doc. dr. Rasa Andriušyt÷-Žukien÷ (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Council of defense of the doctoral dissertation: Chairman: prof. habil. dr. Vytautas Levandauskas (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Members: prof. habil. dr. Algirdas Gaižutis (Vilnius Pedagogical University, Humanities, Philosophy 01 H) prof. dr. Gintautas Mažeikis (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Philosophy 01 H) dr. Ieva Pleikien÷ (Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) dr. Linara Dovydaityt÷ (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Opponents: dr. Agn÷ Narušyt÷ (Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) doc. dr. Laima Laučkait÷ (Culture, Philosophy and Arts Research Institute, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) The official defense of the dissertation will be held at 4 p. m.

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VYTAUTAS MAGNUS UNIVERSITY ARCHITECTURE AND CONSTRUCTION INSTITUTE
Tomas Pabedinskas
         RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE IMAGE AND THE IDENTITY OF A PERSON IN CONTEMPORARY LITHUANIAN PHOTOGRAPHY               
 
Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation Humanities, Art Studies (03 H)
Kaunas, 2009
 
The right of doctoral studies was granted to Vytautas Magnus University jointly with the Architecture and Construction Institute on July 15, 2003, by the decision No. 926 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania.   Scientific supervisor: doc. dr.Rasa Andriušy÷t-ukien÷ Magnus University, Humanities, Art (Vytautas Studies 03 H)  Council of defense of the doctoral dissertation: Chairman: prof. habil. dr.Vytautas Levandauskas(Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Members: prof. habil. dr.Algirdas Gaiutis (Vilnius Pedagogical University, Humanities, Philosophy 01 H) prof. dr.Gintautas Maeiki s(Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Philosophy 01 H) dr.Ieva Pleikien÷of Fine Arts, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H)(Vilnius Academy dr.Linara Dovydaityt÷(Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H)  Opponents: dr.Agn÷Narušyt÷Academy of Fine Arts, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H)(Vilnius doc. dr.Laima Laučkait÷ Philosophy and Arts Research Institute, (Culture, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H)   The official defense of the dissertation will be held at 4 p. m. on November 24, 2009 at a public meeting at Vytautas Magnus University, Art Faculty, Laisv÷s av. 53, Art Gallery “101”.  Address: K. Donelaičio 58, LT-44248, Kaunas Phone: (8 37) 323599 Fax: (8 37) 203858      The summary of the doctoral dissertation was distributed on October , 2009. The dissertation is available at the National M. Mavydas library, library of Vytautas Magnus University and library of Architecture and Construction Institute.  The doctoral dissertation was prepared at Vytautas Magnus University in 2005-2009.    
  
 
VYTAUTO DIDIOJO UNIVERSITETAS ARCHITEKTŪROS IR STATYBOS INSTITUTAS       Tomas Pabedinskas   MOGAUS ATVAIZDO IR IDENTITETO SANTYKIS ŠIUOLAIKINöJE LIETUVOS FOTOGRAFIJOJE     Daktaro disertacijos santrauka Humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra (03 H)             Kaunas, 2009
 
Doktorantūros ir daktaro mokslų laipsnių suteikimo teis÷ suteikta Vytauto Didiojo universitetui kartu su Architektūros ir statybos institutu 2003 m. liepos 15 d. Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausyb÷s nutarimu Nr. 926.   Darbo vadov÷: doc. dr.Rasa Andriušyt÷-ukien÷ (Vytauto Didiojo universitetas, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H)  Disertacijos gynimo taryba: Pirmininkas: prof. habil. dr.Vytautas Levandauskas(Vytauto Didiojo universitetas, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H) Nariai: prof. habil. dr.Algirdas Gaiutis(Vilniaus pedagoginis universitetas, humanitariniai mokslai, filosofija 01 H) prof. dr.Gintautas Maeikis(Vytauto Didiojo universitetas, humanitariniai mokslai, filosofija 01 H) dr.Ieva Pleikien÷ (Vilniaus dail÷s akademija, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H) dr.Linara Dovydaityt÷ (Vytauto Didiojo universitetas, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H)  Oponent÷s: dr.Agn÷Narušyt÷ (Vilniaus dail÷s akademija, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H) doc. dr.Laima Laučkait÷ (Kultūros, filosofijos ir meno institutas, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H)   Disertacija bus ginama viešame pos÷dyje, kurisįvyks 2009 m. lapkričio 24 d. 16 val. Vytauto Didiojo universiteto Menųfakultete, Laisv÷s al. 53, Menųgalerijoje „101“.  Adresas: K. Donelaičio 58, LT-44248, Kaunas Tel.: (8 37) 323599 Faksas: (8 37) 203858      Disertacijos santrauka išsų d. 2009 m. spalioi sta Su disertacija galima susipainti Lietuvos nacionalin÷je M. Mavydo, Vytauto Didiojo universiteto, Architektūros ir statybos instituto bibliotekose.  Disertacija parengta Vytauto Didiojo universitete2005-2009 metais.    
  
 
INTRODUCTION  Object of the study.At the end of the 20th significant changes century, occurred in Lithuanian photography: a certain part of photography relinquished earlier traditions of Lithuanian photography and did not conform to the conventional criteria of artistry of photography altogether. Photographers and other artists abandoned expressive visual form and humanist content, which had dominated Lithuanian photography since 1960s, and came up with featureless photography suggesting a reflective approach towards a person and his or her environment. Such photography transcended relatively narrow boundaries of artistic photography and became a part of the global contemporary photography field and global contemporary art scene. The works of Lithuanian authors that merged into the international context of contemporary photography were not bound by earlier Lithuanian humanist trend in photography or united resistance of young photographers against the tradition of Lithuanian photography. The diversity of Lithuanian photography predetermined by its merging into the global context is not merely a sign of a transitional period, but a permanent state of contemporary photography. Considering this, the works of Lithuanian artists discussed in the thesis are not treated or generalised as a single school”, but as a part of the global photography art. In 1990s, a part of Lithuanian photographers not only abandoned the tradition of the Lithuanian school of photography, but also transcended the boundaries of artistic photography as the individual area of art. Their works are not put in the relatively narrow field of artistic photography, but in the sphere of contemporary photography, which is integral to the wider field of contemporary art. The disappearance of the boundary between photography and contemporary art was predetermined by the fact that photography was invoked by artists from other fields to express their creative ideas. In 1990s, many artists chose the media of video and photography after experimenting with different means of expression. Photographers and artists who employ photography in their works are related through discursive creative practice marked by criticism inherent to the contemporary art. According to the US art critic Hal Foster, the gap between the authors of contemporary photography and the tradition of artistic photography as well as the integration of their work into the contemporary art can be generalised as the denial of the quality criterion and attaching more significance to the criterion of interest. If in the first case the quality of the work of art could only be assessed with regard to the art created in the past, in the second case more importance is given to the questioning of the modern-day culture – a transition is made from thesolution of formal tasks significant to a certain field of art (in this case, photography) to the analysis of wider problems beyond the boundaries of art. Nevertheless, modern-day creative practice does not conform to the theoretical attempts of the late 1970s and early 1980s to deny the significance of the peculiarity of photography in contemporary art. Although formal searches which require the skill in art as a craft were replaced in contemporary art with discursive creativity and made photography available to artists from all fields, art critic Agn÷ Narušy÷t states that  photography itself, as a medium in the context of contemporary art, retains its uniqueness and autonomy. Authors of contemporary photography do not deny the distinction of photography, but use or critically reflect on other aspects of the distinction of photography (as compared to the representatives of conventional art photography): its
 
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causality with regard to the recorded reality, (alleged) objectivity or the spread and significance of photography in the modern-day visual culture. Those are the features inherent in photography that encourage photographers as well as representatives of other fields of art to invoke it for the analysis of the reality beyond art (cultural, social, political and economical background). Therefore, the medium used by artists became an important frame of reference for the definition of the object of this study: although the thesis covers the works of both photographers and artists from other fields of art, the result in all cases is a static two-dimensional image created by the means of photography (or reproduction of photographic images). Montages and complex works of art (e. g. installations and objects) incorporating photography are beyond the scope of this study. Neither does the thesis analyse photographic documentation of campaigns or other artistic acts, as such documentation can not be considered an independent piece of art as compared to the examples of contemporary photography. Moreover, montages (e. g., “Ro-ko-ko-mixai” (“Ro-ko-ko-mixes”, 2006) by Rokas Pralgauskas or the cycle of self-portraits “52 savait÷ started by Kazimierass, 52 autoportretai” (“52 weeks, 52 self-portraits )” Linkevičius in 1993) as well as images created using digital technologies and imitating photographic pictures are also left beyond the scope of the study. Such decision was based on the belief that the concept of photography does not cover images created that are using exclusively digital technologies, have no connection with reality and in this case should be replaced by the term “computer generated imagery”. The boundaries of the scope of the study are marked not only by the medium used for the creation of the analysed works, but also by their common theme – identity of a person and the reflection on the relationship of this identity with the image of the person. The theme of personal identity gained importance in Lithuania at the end of the 20thcentury, when photographers and artists of the young generation started focusing on the garments, personal items, private space and living environment that define the personality of a person. However, the first works involving the problem of the relationship between the identity and the image of a person were created as early as the late 1980s. Not all works of Lithuanian authors related to the said theme are discussed in the thesis, but only those that reflect the different aspects of the said issue and represent individual features of contemporary Lithuanian photography. Thus, the chronological boundaries of the Lithuanian photography analysed in the thesis can be drawn from the second half of the 1980s to this day, while the creative tactics of the authors of the works discussed here are interrelated through the chosen medium, common features of contemporary photography and the analysed theme. There are several reasons behind the choice of the contemporary photography related to the personal identity problem as the object of the study. On the one part, the issue of personal identity became one of the major themes analysed by Lithuanian photographers who were focusing on the analysis of problems beyond the boundaries of art and thus immersing in the general trend of contemporary Lithuanian art – as described by the art critic Erika Grigoravičien÷ – to create representations of various sociocultural groups or persons belonging to those groups. On the other part, the analysis of examples of contemporary photography reflecting on the topic of personal identity reveals general peculiarities of the relationship between the identity and the image of a person. From the invention of photography it has been used to describe personality by the way the person looks and to reduce external differences of people to certain “types”. Authors of contemporary photography try to expose this
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pseudoscientific fiction created by the means of photography and use photography for the opposite – through their works they encourage critical look at the stereotypes of personal identity as well as the role of photography itself in the shaping of such stereotypes. Authors of contemporary photography treat personal identity not as a natural feature recorded in pictures, but as a problematic phenomenon. Nevertheless, this thesis does not aim to deal with personal identity related issues or assess the approach towards different aspects of this identity implicated by the analysed works. The thesis was limited to the analysis of the relationship between the image and the identity of a person, which allows describing important features of contemporary photography. In other words, the study focuses on contemporary photography and not on the sociocultural reality reflected in it.  Relevance and originality of the thesis.Contemporary approach of theorists and photographers towards photography has its weaknesses – essentially, it is based on a post-structural statement that all reality is a cultural construct. Through such perception of reality, its representation and consequently photography is perceived not as an image recording objective reality, but as an image establishing discursive reality. In early 1980s in the West, such approach towards photography gained ground in practice as well as in criticism and theory of photography. Therefore, the analysis of a picture does not take into account the peculiarities of photography itself, i.e. its undeniable relationship with the recorded reality. Therefore, the thesis makes adjustments to the contemporary concept of photography and formulates a new definition enabling the perception of a picture as a discursive image without denying its causal relationship with objective reality. The thesis develops a new theoretical approach towards photographic images of a person. The work reveals the discursiveness of personal identity found in photography and analyses certain ways of expression of this identity and its representation in photography. This is based on the performativity theory, which has not been consistently applied to the analysis of photography in Lithuanian or in international photography theory discourse. Thus, the new approach towards photography and theoretical insights based on this approach can be relevant not only to Lithuania, but also in a wider context of photography theory. New theoretical statements proposed in the thesis are also of great importance to Lithuanian art criticism, as they can explain the changes in Lithuanian photography art and influence contemporary Lithuanian photography discourse in the making where creative practice meets theory. The originality of the work comes not only from new theoretical insights. The works of Lithuanian photographers and artists related to the problem of personal identity and consistently analysed in the thesis have never been extensively discussed by art critics as an individual segment of contemporary Lithuanian photography. Moreover, the thesis introduces and analyses pictures from Vitas Luckus’ (1943-1987) last series of works “Baltame fone” (“On White Background”, 1968) as well as Ramun÷ Pigagait÷’s latest series of pictures “Upių (“River Guides”, 2008) that have vadovai” never been published or publicly exhibited before. The thesis presents and discuses a number of pictures created by various Lithuanian authors that have already been exhibited, but never have been published and have received little theoretical reflection. The thesis also defines the relationship between contemporary Lithuanian photography
 
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and international context of contemporary photography that has never been analysed in detail.  Theoretical provisions and methods of work. order to avoid the said In shortcomings inherent in the modern-day approach towards photography, the analysis of photographic images of persons are based on research methods from different disciplines. In this work, photography is treated as a visual symbol by using methods of structuralism and post-structuralism which allow the application of the linguistic concept of a sign to objects and actions beyond the area of language. Structuralist approach allows disassociation from the concept of photography as a visual analogue of reality and enables more conceptual analysis of photography. Based on the structuralist method, one can separate a photographic image from the reality that it represents and define their relationships of various nature. In the meantime, post-structuralism, the statements of which question direct relationship between the sign and the reality, offers methods for the analysis of the functionality of photography in the general system of cultural signs. The application of these theoretical perspectives in the analysis of photography is mostly based on the texts of the French semiotician Roland Barthes and the simulation theory of the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. R. Barthes widely applied the methods of structuralism and post-structuralism in the analysis of visual culture and particular analysis of photography by studying photography as an image uniquely related to the reality (approach closely related to structuralism) and at the same time disclosing the discursive nature of the reality represented by an image (post-structuralist conception of reality). Such methodological flexibility is the reason why R. Barthes’ theoretical works are used in the thesis in most cases. J. Baudrillard’s concept of simulacra and simulation is different – it builds on post-structural statements in a radical direction rejecting the conventional concept of reality and proposing to treat it as “hyperreality”which consists exclusively of symbols that have lost connection to reality. This causes the limitations of the simulation theory, but J. Baudrillard’s statements help explain the approach of some contemporary photography artists towards sociocultural reality and creative tactics conveying this approach. Nevertheless, the methodology of structuralism and post-structuralism is not enough for the versatile analysis of the chosen object as it does not allow to take into account the peculiarities of the representation of personal identity in photography. Therefore, the analysis of the issues related to the concept of personal identity is based on performativity theory, which can be applied in the analysis of various social, cultural and art phenomena because of its interdisciplinary nature. According to the performativity theory, the expression of personal identity shaped by cultural schemes and interpreted according to those schemes is analysed in the thesis as an everyday performance. In most cases, the analysis of the performative identity expression is based on sociologist Erving Goffman who uses the terms of theatre as metaphors describing social roles in everyday life as well as on the concept of performative sexual identity formulated by the feminism theorist Judith Butler. The work does not only use research methods of different disciplines, but also searches for their common points that enable the analysis of contemporary photography and personal identity not as individual, but as closely related and inter reciprocal aspects of the studied object. In other words, interdisciplinary methods are useful in the sense
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that they can be used to explain how the expression and perception of personal identity is influenced by photography and how performativity of personal identity changes the conventional concept of photographic images of persons. In the meantime, the analysis of the examples of contemporary Lithuanian photography in the narrower context of the art of photography instead of wide social and cultural context was carried out using the comparative method. It helped to compare particular works of art, to describe the differences between contemporary and earlier tradition of Lithuanian photography, and to define the relationship between contemporary Lithuanian photography and international contemporary photography context by comparing the works of Lithuanian authors with the global trends of the art of photography.  Goals and tasks Goal: Revelation of the most important features of contemporary Lithuanian photography related to the personal identity problem, by applying a new theoretical approach in their analysis based on the synthesis of the contemporary photography concept and performativity theory.  Tasks:  · Description of the contemporary photography concept, demonstration of its shortcomings, and formulation of a new definition of this concept; · relationship between the image and theTheoretical description of the identity of a person by combining the modern-day concept of photography and the performativity theory; · Analysis of the relationship between the image and the identity of a person in contemporary Lithuanian photography; · Discussion on the reflection of the discursiveness of photographic images of persons in contemporary Lithuanian photography; · Definition of the links of contemporary Lithuanian photography with the global context of the art of photography.  Description of concepts used in the thesis. Main concepts used in the paper have been established in art theory and criticism for a long time, but some of them are arguable or have acquired excessively wide meanings and therefore the meaning given to those concepts in the thesis should be explained. Lithuanian photography scholars use the definition of “Lithuanian school of photography” formulated by Russian critics in the late 1960s. Although there are differences among the works of the school’s representatives, the term “Lithuanian school of photography” is still widely applied to the trend of humanist photography that dominated Lithuanian photography from 1960s to early 1980s. The term “Lithuanian school of photography” is applied to this trend ofphotography in the thesis too without going into the problems rising from the definition of this school, whereas Lithuanian photography of this period is not the object of the study. The concept of “contemporary photography” is problematic too. The difficulty of defining the photography that does not conform to the tradition of artistic photography emerged in early 1980s. New creative tactics were defined as “the use of photography in postmodernism”, but almost at the same time observations were made
 
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that different and complicated meanings were applied to the concept of “postmodernism” in art criticism – it simply showedreaction against modernism without describing the reaction itself. Another reason behind the exclusion of the concept of “postmodernism” from the thesis was that it would be wrong to use the concept which is related to a certain stage of development of the art of photography that has already passed to define modern-day photography. Therefore, the term contemporary photography”, which has a wider meaning, is used in the thesis. On the one part, it points out the features of photography that have formed in postmodern creative practice: emphasis on contents instead of formal expression, highlighting the belonging of a work of art to the network of cultural forms, and the functionality of reproduction of those forms attributed to the author. These features of photography emerged through questioning the tradition of modern artistic photography: status of an artist as an author, concept of a piece of art as an autonomous and original art object, distinction between popular culture and “pure” art, the significance of employed tools and media, as well as universality of reality representation forms. On the other part, the concept of “contemporary photography” also describes the modern-day photography art which retains part of the said elements of postmodern photography as well as has new ones, such as the significance of the technical quality of the image, or the focus of photography authors on particular reality, instead of the network of reality representations. Thus, the concept of contemporary photography” points out not only the recency their attribution to a certain trend of photography.of analysed works, but also Therefore, the concept of “contemporary photography” is suitable for the definition of chronological boundaries of the analysed object as well as for pointing out its distinction from conventional artistic photography (which, by the way, is still practiced today and should not be considered a phenomenon of the art of the past). The concept of the “art of photography” is used in this paper to define all photography within the field of artistic photography which encompasses the concepts of artistic photography and contemporary photography. The concepts of “simulation” and “simulacrum” used in contemporary photography theory and criticism are used in the thesis in the sense attributed to them by J. Baudrillard: the concept of “simulation” is usedto describe a phenomena opposite to representation where the distinction between the symbol and reality does not exist and all references disappear, while the concept of “simulacrum” is applied to the sign (image) that hides the absence of reality or does not have any relation with it altogether. Although the concept of “identity” usually means the inner unity of a personality perceived as the “Self”, the definitions of “performative identity” or discursive identity” used in the thesis describe the essentially opposite concept of personal identity, according to which the personality is not determined by “inner unity”, but shaped and defined by external sociocultural symbols that do not necessarily show the nature of personal identity.  Literature overview.Literature used in the thesis can be divided into two major thematic groups reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the study: one part of the texts is dedicated to the overview of the theories that have influenced postmodern art and of the concept of contemporary photography, while the other is dedicated to the performativity theory.
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One of the most important books from the first group is a selection of papers titledArt After Modernism: Rethinking Representation(ed. Brian Wallis). Articles from this compendium were of particular importance to the definition of the concept of contemporary photography. They also allowed to link the beginning of contemporary photography with the general field of postmodern art and the theories that shaped it. A similar book titledThe Anti-Aesthetic. Essays on Postmodern Culture Hal Foster) (ed. was also important to the thesis in the above mentioned aspects, as the book contains texts from different authors that have influenced the theory of postmodern art as well as the concept of contemporary photography related to this theory through its origins. Texts of Hans Bertens, Andy Grundberg, Douglas Kellner, Lisa Wells were of equal importance in a sense that they allowed to take a retrospective look at the theoretical discussions of the 1980s on postmodern art and the then new trend of photography. They enabled critical assessment of the methods applied in the analysis of contemporary photography and clear definition of their flaws. The latter were better understood with the help of the selection of articlesThinking Photography. Although the book was published in early 1980s, the articles reveal a great variety of theoretical approaches towards photography, while the editor of this book, Victor Burgin, in his introduction clearly defines the shortcomings of the theories on which the analysis of photography was based at the time and points out the tasks that should be undertaken in further development of photography theory. The concept of photography, which was formed and established in the US art theory and criticism more than two decades ago and which has been probably best described in the above mentioned texts, was also introduced in the articles written by Lithuanian authors and applied in the analysis of contemporary Lithuanian photography in the beginning of the 21st One of such authors is art critic Virginijus century. Kinčinaitis, who treats photography as a part of modern-day visual culture and analyses it in a particularly wide theoretical field. He builds on the theories of post-structuralism, feminism, psychoanalysis and simulation to formulate major statements of contemporary photography which he later applies in the analysis of particular examples of Lithuanian photography. The works of Lithuanian photographers in the context of post-structuralism theory, which has influenced the modern-day concept of an image, are discussed by A. Narušy÷t who interprets photography as visual “text”. From the perspective of media theory, photography is analysed by the media theorist Vytautas Michelkevičius who gives a lot of attention to evolving photography technologies and the change of photography concept influenced by these technologies, while film theorist Nerijus Milerius invokes J. Baudrillard’s theory in his writings on photography. Basic differences between artistic and contemporary photography are rather coherently discussed by the fine art critic Renata Dubinskait÷. However, the said theoretical considerations and the studies on Lithuanian photography are in most cases presented not in scientific literature, but in essayist texts discussing only individual examples of Lithuanian photography and providing only vague outline of their theoretical context, and do not provide extensive overview of the works created by Lithuanian contemporary photographers. Nevertheless, the texts of these Lithuanian authors became the starting point for the choice of this study’s object, the definition of which was adjusted in the light of the works of foreign art theorists who provide a more comprehensive analysis of the concept of contemporary photography. A. Narušyt÷’s bookNuobodulio estetika Lietuvos fotografijoje (Aesthetics of Boredom in Lithuanian Photography) on the Lithuanian photography of the 1980s was
 
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