Do you know of Boris Mikhailov, to whom this photograph by Vytautas Balčytis is dedicated? He is a Ukrainian conceptualist who, from 1965 to 1985, created a series of photographs entitled "Superimposition" for the book "Yesterday's Sandwich," in which he overlaid unrelated images. Mikhailov met Balčytis and other photographers of his generation in photography seminars held in Nida, and had a great influence upon them. Balčytis is progressing along a creative path similar to Mikhailov's, scrambling the perception of an image, capturing fragments of meaningless everyday life in reportage style.
Neither the location nor the people in the image are of any particular importance, but rather are encountered randomly and anonymously. Their faces and expressions are unseen, and they show no emotions, as if leaving the observer in the dark. In seeking a detail to lock onto, the eye notices the sign "Čeburėkai" (Chebureki - Crimean empanadas), but this, too, is completely lacking in significance.
Other Lithuanian photographers worked in this way in the 1980s (Remigijus Pačėsa, Alfonsas Budvytis, Algimantas Šeškus, Gintaras Zinkevičius, Andrius Kulikauskas, and others). Capturing boring, completely inconspicuous routine imagery and objects reflected the political and social character of the time and the existential boredom prevailing in society.
In discussing this photograph, it is important to mention the concept of social landscape. What exactly is that? Social landscape is a term borrowed from American photographer Lee Friedlander and expanded upon by Agnė Narušytė in her book Boredom Aesthetics in Lithuanian Photography, denoting the impartial and anonymous role of the photographer. At the time, this genre was particularly important for Balčytis and his generation of photographers as an expression of social and political critique.