The human condition in photography was popularized in the West much earlier than in Lithuania. In 1955, the Modern Art Museum of New York – MOMA, showcased the photography show “The Human Family”. The show was a success and garnered much public interest and it also popularized and revealed the distinguishing themes of this branch of photography. The same show traveled to Moscow in 1959 and it’s catalogue reached Lithuanian photographers, which in turn influenced the artists’ worldview as well as their creative processes.
What distinguishes the subject of human condition in photography in Lithuanian art? Lithuanian photographers of the time, just as their western counterparts, discussed in their work the “great” and eternal subjects: human life and death; love and loneliness; holy days and daily life. Such themes were popularized through observing and recording the daily lives of common villagers.
In the author’s series “Lithuanian Flea Markets” the most common subjects are the plain villagers, their farm animals and their relationships with them. Through these relationships with their animals, many distinguishing characteristics are revealed in the photos about the villagers’ “daily grind” and a metaphorical abstraction of life as a whole is made possible. Many times the author liked to embellish this reality with irony.
Upon a closer look of Macijauskas’s 1973 photo #4, Kedainiai – the central composition and the viewer’s attention are focused on two men. One gets a sense that there is a clandestine meeting or a serious bartering happening. The vulgar side of commerce is revealed by capturing the side characters as if by accident – the sweet elderly woman’s face in the forefront and the more distant fat lady’s figure. The author reveals the irony slowly in such photos and so it becomes the distinguishing characteristic of his work, different from more lyrical and optimistic work of other Lithuanian contemporaries.