Visvaldas Morkevicius (b. 1990) is a young Lithuanian photographer and media artist, who lives and works in Vilnius. His work situates itself in between fashion, documentary and artistic fields. His minimalistic visual regard holds the interest in subcultural scenes, bodily identities, and urban lifestyles. Visvaldas has won a portfolio award of the KAUNAS PHOTO festival with his self-published book “Public Secrets”.
– Visvaldas, tell us about your background and why did you choose photography as your medium for expression?
– I lived in a regular working-class family in a small town, where each day I wondered what I could do when I finish school. I thought about almost all professions, but never about photography. When I was around 17, my brother showed me a picture of a woman. It was very colorful, sharp and digitally clean. I got struck by it, that it was technically possible in those days. I realized that it could be made anywhere, as it was a Lithuanian photographer’s work. So from that moment I got interested in photography, left my family and school and went on to assist a photographer in Vilnius.
There is nothing but emotional reasons why I chose photography as my means of expression. And I feel that I am only starting to really understand how to use photographic tools to express what I want to say.
– Please tell us about your project “Public Secrets”.
– Everything started between 2012 and 2014. I was so much into exploring what was around me. Mostly it was Vilnius, personages, public and private spaces, stories around me. It’s interesting for me when you let circumstances involve you in situations you would otherwise never be part of. I tried to document those moments as an observer without ever changing them. First-hand experience is always the best way to get to the bottom of any secret.
– How did you develop this series, what was your approach?
– First I made pictures through my explorations and then the project developed from them naturally when I summarized it.
– And why did you decide to make a book?
– I’ve always wanted to show my personal works, but I never found the right place for it, so I just scanned the films and kept them. After I showed some of my archives to Milena (my girlfriend at that time who is my wife now) and our friend Aušra Trakšelyte, they pushed me to exhibit them. Then, a book seemed to be the most suitable way to show that many pictures. So everything started from being supported by others, really.
– That voice in your head is music – this is the only text in your book. So, what does music mean to you? Could there be a soundtrack for this book?
– Music is the most affective art for me and emotions it creates really influence me. I had selected hundreds of songs that were playing when I took pictures for “Public secrets”. But at the moment I want people to make their own soundtrack from what they feel looking at the pictures.
– We have checked your website and it is rather a commercial portfolio. And then you have “Public secrets”, which is totally different. What is your focus in photography now? What interests you most, how do you combine commercial practice with personal work?
– You are right. It’s because of my photography background. At the beginning of my photography path I was an assistant for a commercial photographer, so naturally that environment pointed me in that direction, but time gave me a possibility to think about what I’m doing and what I would really like to do. Still, I live from photography and commercial works let me self-publish my personal project. I will try to have both these things separated but with time I want there to be a smaller gap between the two. Anyway, both sides of experience are useful to grow in photography, so what I need now is to digest everything I got from “Public Secrets” and move on to my new projects.
– Have you already got an idea for a new project? What’s your plan?
– My future plans… I think, let’s wait and see. Let’s experience life around.
– Where do you source your ideas and inspiration?
– Experiences, emotions and the world around me.
– Could you name a few photographers who’ve influenced you the most? Is there any photographer or project you keep returning to?
– BBC Genius of photography is what I always return to (hundreds of times) and keep getting all passionate about photography again and again. The whole history of photography is fabulous.
– And finally, do you think that we can speak about Lithuanian/Baltic photography as something distinctive?
– My knowledge about what’s happening around is modest, but I think that Lithuanian photography is developing, slowly but surely. And it will take some time before we can identify something specific and talk about what we have.