Finalist 2019: Tadas Kazakevičius
While living in Great Britain, Tadas Kazakevičius saw his homeland of Lithuania with different eyes. This alternative perspective gave rise to his “Soon to be Gone” series. In this work he draws a connection between current-day migration, within Lithuania, and the Great Depression of the thirties in the United States.
Where did you get the idea for your “Soon to be Gone” series?
I think it started coming up when I was still living in the United Kingdom around five years ago. I had started to see Lithuania with the eyes of a foreigner. Visiting my homeland’s rural areas began to feel a bit like a time machine, transporting me to America during the Great Depression of the thirties. I really wanted to experience this time travel, so I started visiting villages whenever I was back in Lithuania. The idea emerged that this migration away from our rural areas looked rather like the migration of American farmers from the Midwestern Dust Bowl states to California, that took place during the Great Depression. I began to understand that I needed to build up an archive dealing with migration in my country – like the Farm Security Administration photographers did in the US, back in the day. That’s the easiest way to explain it. Then, a certain sentimentality rooted in my own childhood came to the surface, though it was triggered by something totally different – by photography in America.
“I think taking photographs is the most amazing experience.”
What do you consider the biggest challenge when taking pictures?
I think taking photos is the most amazing and the most enjoyable experience, so I don’t find that there are many challenges – except when it comes to understanding the overall reason or theme. The work needs to have meaning; it needs to say something. So the truly hard challenge is to have a clear idea of why you’re doing the work you do. I am a documentary photographer, so it isn’t often that I just take pictures with no overall theme that connects them.
What does the word ‘homeland’ mean to you?
Home for me is the place where you somehow feel more complete. Even though there’s a saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, for me the grass is greener where I am right now. At home you can be an expert storyteller; especially when you see with the eyes of a stranger, as a result of living elsewhere for quite some time.
Born in Šiauliai, Lithuania, in 1984, Kazakevičius graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 2007. Following this, he moved to Hatch End in north London, where he worked as a graphic designer. He is a self-taught photographer whose work has been seen in national and international exhibitions, as well as at photo festivals. Kazakevičius has been living in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius since 2012.
Portrait: © Kestutis Zilionis