Creativity Kiosk: Interview with Tadas Šlajus

Hi, Tadas! The first ques­tion would be about inter­dis­cip­lin­ary art. At first, we got to know you as a pho­to­grapher but it’s clear that this descrip­tion is simply too nar­row because you work with sound, videos, texts and even illus­tra­tion and graph­ics. You have a lot of dif­fer­ent ideas. Tell us how your ideas get their form in one or the other format and how do you find them and apply to one another? Did you always exper­i­ment this much, or is it some­thing that you star­ted recently?

Different forms of expres­sion that I work with per­form a dif­fer­ent func­tion every time or more pre­cisely affect me in dif­fer­ent ways. That is why I choose them accord­ing to my inner needs. Usually, I know the tool that I want to work with before any deeper idea devel­op­ment and it rarely changes dur­ing the work­ing pro­cess. However, there are occa­sions, when, while cre­at­ing a piece, one tool com­ple­ments another. This pro­cess is sim­ilar in group pro­jects as well. It’s just that, in this case, the inner demand is not my per­sonal but of the whole group. However, because I am study­ing in an art academy at the moment, where, for now, I have to do artistic tasks that are asso­ci­ated with cer­tain formats, I don’t think about that too often. As about the exper­i­ment­ing, I have quite a tra­di­tional point of view about life but I’ve always liked to exper­i­ment in art. I’m not rad­ical in this case but it’s always inter­est­ing to dis­cover some­thing new.


Drought of Monotony
Drought of Monotony

How do you under­stand pho­to­graphy? What artists inspire you and what pho­to­graphy you don’t like, if there is such?

I under­stand pho­to­graphy as one of means for an artist to con­vey his ideas, word–view through image but it’s spe­cial in the way that the pro­duced pic­ture is the same that you see in the real­ity. It’s not import­ant whether it’s a doc­u­ment or a con­cep­tual photo. A pho­to­graph is a shape of thought by see­ing and inter­pretig. I am fas­cin­ated the most by an artists, who man­age to cre­ate deep pieces from an aes­thet­ical, as well as ideo­lo­gical side. I can also say that I am inter­ested in people, as an object in pho­to­graphy, the most. A stopped moment lets you look deeper into people’s souls. It’s dif­fi­cult to describe pho­to­graphy that I don’t like. What I don’t like the most is when you can’t feel the per­son­al­ity of the pho­to­grapher and attempt to search for some sort of mean­ings, ques­tions, solutions.

Tell us about the most inter­est­ing pro­ject that you had the chance to work with?

Even though I remem­ber some good times from group pro­jects, when look­ing deeper, the most inter­est­ing pro­ject was abso­lutely indi­vidual and a cer­tain med­it­a­tion. I spent this sum­mer at my par­ents’ house, which is near a forest that became the base for my pro­ject. I made myself a reed instru­ment didgeri­doo and a pin­hole cam­era out of one tree from that forest. This way the forest was able to cre­ate sound and image through me. After doing this work, I came to the same place in the forest, where the tree was grow­ing, and put down the wooden cam­era. I sat down in front of it and star­ted play­ing the didgeri­doo. The cam­era ran while I was play­ing and I was play­ing for as much time as I thought was needed. I recor­ded everything and presen­ted these pieces together. So the mak­ing of the instru­ment and the cam­era was sort of pre­par­a­tion and the second part was the con­nec­tion with the work mater­ial and becom­ing an integ­ral part of the forest. It’s a shame that the viewer, see­ing the final res­ult, is more affected by the concept than the pro­cess, which in this case is prob­ably the most import­ant thing. Four months spent in this pro­cess prob­ably determ­ined its import­ance to me.

Drought of Monotony
Drought of Monotony

We know that you study at Academy of Arts. How do you see your­self after the stud­ies? What road would you like to go along? Do you see your­self in Lithuania or will you go ahead and emig­rate like the majority?

At the moment, I am in the second course of my stud­ies and I don’t have clearly defined vis­ions yet, although I do think about the future a lot. As for emig­ra­tion, it’s dif­fi­cult to ima­gine myself in such situ­ation. If I had thought about that, I prob­ably would have begun from stud­ies abroad. I would gladly live in another coun­try for a while and see what is going on there but I want to plan my per­sonal life in a coun­try where I was born. Everything is too close to me to leave. From the per­spect­ive of art, there would prob­ably be lot more pos­sib­il­it­ies abroad but we live in such time when the World is a lot smal­ler and that’s why I believe that I can express myself not only loc­ally in Lithuania. I am def­in­itely not plan­ning to stop cre­at­ing after I fin­ish study­ing, although I don’t know if I’m going to man­age to live only off my art and if I won’t I will have to search for other ways to apply my qual­i­fic­a­tions. I hope that it won’t come to that. At the moment, I see myself liv­ing in Lithuania after stud­ies and hav­ing a fam­ily, cre­at­ing art. However, I do not see myself dis­tanced from the rest of the world.

How do you think life of an artist is dif­fer­ent in the Eastern and Western Europe? Do you notice any tend­en­cies, influences?

My path as an artist is still very short. I am trav­el­ling this road and I am put­ting all my effort to under­stand where it’s going. I haven’t gone along Western Europe’s artistic roads yet but I hear that they’re quite good and asphal­ted. Here, in “Eastern” Europe of ours, there are holes and gravel roads that make the jour­ney itself more dif­fi­cult but these roads are sur­roun­ded by forests that haven’t been “cul­tured” yet and there are also other beau­ti­ful land­scapes that inspire and encour­age you to go for­ward, not neces­sar­ily straight and not neces­sar­ily on four wheels.

Psichoteque
Psichoteque

You touch social top­ics in your art­works as well. Tell us a bit more about that.

It’s almost impossible not to touch on such top­ics when you’re doing street pho­to­graphy and when you’re pho­to­graph­ing people. Yes, there are often char­ac­ters from vari­ous social lay­ers in my pho­to­graphy and the most import­ant thing to me here are the people’s psy­cho­logy and their inner states. I try to cap­ture and format the depth of people, which is usu­ally impossible, as well as pos­sible with the help of pho­to­graphy and to con­vey such person’s con­nec­tions to the envir­on­ment as I see them.

You are one of those artists, who has grown up sur­roun­ded by artists, and whose fam­ily is closely asso­ci­ated with art world. What exper­i­ences and influ­ences made an impact on you while choos­ing the same path as mem­bers of your family?

I can’t say that I was sur­roun­ded by artists that much. Art wasn’t strange to any­one but there were only two people, to whom art was the base of life: dad and mother’s brother. And that was enough that I would feel a strong artistic atmo­sphere and that my own artistic per­cep­tion would form. As for find­ing your­self in such envir­on­ment, I think that it might be more dif­fi­cult if people are try­ing to force their influ­ence on you. I was lucky. My entire child­hood I was draw­ing and mak­ing all sorts of strange things. Everyone saw this but no one tried to form me. They helped as much as I wanted them to help me. I did not cre­ate sys­tem­at­ic­ally and didn’t think about my artistic future ser­i­ously. All of it was like a game to me. And only after I went to a school in the city, I star­ted to cre­ate art ser­i­ously. I was liv­ing alone with my grand­mother and I wasn’t used to life in a big city, so I wanted to “put” myself some­where. I star­ted work­ing with vari­ous means of expres­sion, espe­cially with pho­to­graphy, and the res­ults were notice­able very quickly. I also star­ted con­sult­ing with my dad, which is some­thing that I did not do when I was liv­ing at home. I think that such strong artistic pro­gress occurred pre­cisely because I was liv­ing in such atmo­sphere where I could have searched for myself with nobody stop­ping and push­ing me.

Father

Tell us about that epis­ode of your life, which you already men­tioned when we were talk­ing. Tell us about art and music schools on oppos­ite sides of a street.

At that time I was 10 or 11 years old. I was liv­ing in a vil­lage, where I was attend­ing private piano les­sons and I was going to a sports school ten kilo­met­ers away, although, it seemed that there could be some more activ­ity. After show­ing a lot of desire, my par­ents decided that I have to go to a music school, which was thirty kilo­met­ers away from our vil­lage. Because I was more dis­tin­guished in draw­ing than in musical tal­ents and art and music schools were very close to each other It could have seemed strange that I chose music. I chose music because my dad strictly said that they can ruin me in the art school. Only very recently, when my draw­ing style gathered some more prom­in­ent char­ac­ter­ist­ics, I under­stood what he had in mind and I am grate­ful to him for that. And as for music, I still became self–taught in this field as well and I really don’t have any regrets.

What do you think about the influ­ence of new tech­no­lo­gies and the Internet?

It’s nat­ural that everything is mov­ing for­ward, chan­ging and new pos­sib­il­it­ies of expres­sion that cre­at­ors did not have before are appear­ing. However, the old tech­no­lo­gies did not go any­where, at least most of them. There are things that you can do only with new tech­no­lo­gies and con­versely, there are those that can’t be done without the old ones. I am using both. It depends on which one I need to use. There are also lot broader pos­sib­il­it­ies of com­mu­nic­a­tion and con­tacts are estab­lished a lot faster. It’s easier to show your art and there’s a faster approach to inform­a­tion about prob­lems that interest you. Although I don’t like that after the appear­ance of end­less pos­sib­il­it­ies for inform­a­tion I can often feel only intel­lec­tual effect of new art­work. You have to think so much and it seems that there is no more room left for feel­ing which was primal func­tion of art. Such art­works make sense only after you man­age to fully read it.

Well, and the last ques­tion would be about inspir­a­tion. What inspires you and how do you get ideas and energy to go forward?

It’s a ques­tion that is very dif­fi­cult to answer with words. Usually, my inspir­a­tion asserts itself in an aes­thetic form of feel­ings, from which later comes navel-​gazing that forms the art piece or its sketch. Sometimes this period plays a very import­ant part and some­times it’s not even there. For example, graph­ics and music are usu­ally a present­a­tion of that period in an image or sound. So everything begins with feel­ings and thoughts that come from vari­ous things, which are close to your world–view. From the under­stand­ing of sur­round­ing sounds and images to per­sonal life. Or maybe it’s even backwards.

Thank you for great interview!

Gintarė Žitkevičiūtė
About author:
Gintarė Žitkevičiūtė
Gintare Zitkeviciute is Art Pit’s thinker and doer. In her work practise, she values lean approach, creativity and quick decisions. She doesn't like working with random people and thinks that a team is a heart of successful project. For that reason, she carefully picks people she works with on everyday basis. She is mostly interested in innovatio... Read further >
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