KAUNAS PHOTO in Kybartai: Polish photographer’s exhibition in the land of his ancestors

On the 8th June 2019, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Kybartai municipality, KAUNAS PHOTO festival opens the premiere of Mariusz Forecki’s photography exhibition. Polish photographer-documentalist of Lithuanian origin has created this work during his art residencies in Kybartai. The exhibition “Neighbors I Could Not Know” will be displayed in the open air at the churchyard of the Catholic Church of the Eucharistic Saviour in Kybartai. A projection of photographs by M.Forecki will take place at the peak of the celebration, at 23:00 in I. Levitano square, which the photographer will inaugurate with the emotive exile history of his Klimai family from Stanaičiai village. The exhibition will be open throughout June.

Mariusz Forecki is known as a documentary photographer of Poland’s period of liberation and freedom. His series of photographs about Kybartai did not come by chance. Firstly, M.Forecki is a socially sensitive photographer, so borders is one of the important topics that he has been looking at for over a decade. Born in 1962 in Poznan (Poland), the photographer has Lithuanian roots. His mother, Prakseda Klimaitė, comes from Stanaičiai village located in Kybartai district. In 1944 the Klimai family, like many border residents, was deported to Germany for labor, but after capitulation was given permission to return to Lithuania. Due to the risk of deportation to Siberia or other repressions, the Klimai family stopped in Poland, where they began to develop a new life. The attraction to Lithuania has chased Mariusz throughout his life. After becoming a photographer, he has been visiting post-Soviet areas that were facing change and upheaval, and was one of the few foreign photographers working in Vilnius and Lithuanian Parliament during the January Events in 1991.

Mariusz Forecki “Neighbors I Could Not Know”

KAUNAS PHOTO festival annually presents the works of Lithuanian-origin photographers and invites them to art residencies in Lithuania. Thanks to the efforts of the Festival and Kybartai community, M.Forecki visited his mother’s homeland for four times. He was given the opportunity to observe the life of Kybartai up close and take pictures of the famous Kybartai Wind Orchestra, different local celebrations – from weddings to Halloween, cross-border activities, gray and colored Kybartai everyday life, its people. After the first visit to Kybartai, the photographer sent an emotional message to Mindaugas Kavaliauskas, the curator of the festival: “Look at this photo – it’s my land!”.

Mariusz Forecki “Neighbors I Could Not Know”. The land that belonged to Klimai family

The exhibition in Kybartai will feature several dozens of photographs, and on the projection night the author will introduce the public to the photographic work he created during his multiple short-term art residencies in Kybartai region. The residencies were organized by KAUNAS PHOTO festival and Kybartai community.

Lithuanian public is already familiar with M.Forecki’s photography. In 2014, KAUNAS PHOTO presented M.Forecki’s exhibition “Lithuania. January 1991” at the Seimas of Lithuania. In 2016, in the context of “New Urban Narratives” project, he documented Kaunas Savanorių Avenue with other European photographers. This work was displayed at the Town Hall square of Kaunas in the form of a luminous installation.

KAUNAS PHOTO is the longest-running annual photo art festival in the Baltic States, since 2004, taking place every September in the second-largest Lithuanian town of Kaunas. The festival is organized by NGO “Šviesos raštas”. KAUNAS PHOTO festival’s major sponsors are the Lithuanian Council for Culture and Kaunas City Municipality. Partners of KAUNAS PHOTO programme in Kybartai: Kybartai community and Kybartai Eldership of Vilkaviškis District Municipality. Mariusz Forecki residencies and exhibitions in Kybartai were supported by the Polish Institute in Vilnius.