Exhibition “Confession” by Eglė Čėjauskaitė-Gintalė and Martynas Gintalas in Palanga Amber Museum
The exhibition has been held from 2019 June to 2020 June.
The project was created exclusively for the display spaces of the Amber Museum, where a certain mood is created by the sacral nature of the former chapel of the Tyszkiewicz family and the glass displays, which, for the authors, evoke the image of old opening mirrors. Exhibition “Confession” | Flickr
We All Are One
Dr. Jurgita Ludavičienė
Material things are not always the best way to talk about the fundamental matters of human life. Moments that fundamentally change our lives, events that happen to all of us and become landmarks in our lives. The kind of moments that connect us all. Things often appear too material, too banal, too mundane. Too… thing-like. But Eglė Čėjauskaitė-Gintalė sees things in a different way. Objects that have been accompanying us since our childhood, that we have inherited from our parents and grandparents, marking important moments or becoming significant as memorabilia (much more than souvenirs), companions and keepers of the relationship between two generations – to Eglė, they are symbols and keys, containers of emotion and a means to discuss the most important of matters. Matters that we are too timid or too fragile to discuss.
The artist couple speaks of the human life journey through objects and images. No more, no less. The task is serious and all-encompassing but it is on par with the abilities of E. Čėjauskaitė-Gintalė, one of the most sensitive and subtle Lithuanian metal artists, whose objects feature a complete, aesthetic, decorative appearance, yet are not limited to it. For over fifteen years, she has been working with silver, gold, mammoth ivory and (more and more frequently) amber. However, these are merely materials that would not be of any value had the author not made them speak of a certain meaning, and had every material and detail not been made to lead to meaningfulness and fundamental human matters in an intuitive yet deliberate way. What’s most important here is the semantic charge and the ability to evoke the courage in a person to speak and to remember. The courage to reveal themselves.
“Confession” is a monumental installation that includes jewellery and video art and, through its use of jewellery and objects, aims to create a narrative that would be understandable and familiar to everybody. Because everyone experiences the same thing. Everybody experiences their birth, their first joys and disappointments, everybody tends to look at life through rose-tinted (or, in this case, amber-tinted) glasses at some point, everybody gathers material wealth and wisdom throughout their life. This whole journey is turned into pieces of jewellery: the sacred moment of baptism and the sadness of loss, disappointment and youthful growth, when, at least for a short while, we change from awkward caterpillars into graceful butterflies. Hoarding, greed and fatigue, thoughts on the meaning of life, hardships and being lost – all the experiences and feelings are concentrated in carefully crafted pieces of jewellery, which both ask us riddles and at the same time whisper answers to them. Which stage of life is symbolised by the scales? Perhaps the last one, where everything will be “calculated, weighed and divided up”? With your heart on one side and everything you have been on the other? And how about grandpa’s old brass knuckles, now blooming with metal blossoms? What have the wooden callipers with metal needles been used to measure back in the day? What would we sew with silver needles and red yarn? Every question is a riddle and has as many answers as there are people.
“Confession” is something very important and very personal. Profound things that we all feel. The most significant moments in our lives are expressed here though volumetric objects. Birth, growth and experience, search and loss, learning to notice what is important around us. The objects are recognisable – little arms and legs, hearts, eyes, animals and amber crawlers – all stringed together into jewellery. A heap of amber chips forms a base for various attributes of our lives – a brush and a mixer, a paintbrush and a hairpin. Silver net bags are reminiscent of the ones our mothers used to bring from the shops filled with carrots or milk. When they turn silver, everyday items become decorative and, at the same time, more noble. The necklaces, which one could wear as ornaments, start to look more like rosaries with their beads replaced with marks of life. The things come alive, persevere, take on meanings and bloom – sometimes very unexpectedly. This is the story of every one of us. The path we all have to take. A unique material for each part of the journey: silver, amber, cloth, mirror. All we need to do is take a closer look and recognise, wonder, acknowledge. Seeing oneself in mirror fragments, when your glance slides away from the black background and jewellery and you shudder, as you notice your own deeply gazing eye in the mirror instead of bottomless glass. Once again, it confirms that all of this is about all of us.
Another thing: in a strange way, these objects tend to look sacral, as if dedicated to those, whose clothes are now like transparent shadows against the background of the installation. There are no people any more, only their items and hints of form, body shapes preserved in translucent fabrics; there are only hints of clothing here as well; the soft, translucent blackness allows the objects to come through and gives them an emotional undertone. They are like school uniforms or burial and mourning clothes, which is why the whole installation feels like one long memory of the past. As well as a reminder to the viewers: we are all fragile and temporary. This is also what the Samogitian mountain hymns in the headphones are about.
But that is not all. The whole world can be seen in a single grain of sand or a single pine needle, as the Japanese poets have been telling us since the ancient times. Every single thing in the microcosm, even the smallest one, is a reflection of the macrocosm. Therefore, Martynas Gintalas rejuvenates jewellery objects by adding visual material, which makes the viewer feel like an ant who can look at the ornaments from the inside, seeing all the details and understanding that it is all One. The videos are not just a supplement – they are an independent part of the installation, merging organically with the jewellery and expanding the material part of the display, providing depth and perspective and helping us understand that even the tiniest grain is also part of the world, as is the tallest mountain. As are we. No matter where we are – in Samogitia or in Japan, we are all connected by the same life experiences. The author’s gaze turns us into a tiny crumb, lifts us up into the air, shows us a bird’s eye view of the world, shooting up like a hawk, then back down, until you sense that your gaze has met… yourself. All of us – ants and pine needles, crosses and feathers, people and things – together we make up something much larger than ourselves. And that, probably, is the most important understanding and the most immense revelation.