Nemunas Journey is a result of the three year work in between three countries: Belarus, Lithuania and Russia. Following the course of Nemunas River, Vitus Saloshanka photographed the changing landscape in the context of historical and political realities of the region. Three parts of the series come together to show how the changes and shifts in political regimes affect the natural urban and suburban scenery. Stunning sunsets illuminate the scenes in pink hues, revealing untamed swamps and bogs in Belarus, and a contrasting concrete jungle in the Kaliningrad region of Russia. The area around Nemunas in Belarus is a very sparsely populated, forgotten land, where the farming practices and technology remind of the gone era. The fields nearby display an array of grain crops, however locals buy bread from the lorry- shop, that sometimes passes the villages in the area. Belarusian nature, though, especially the swamps and forests around Nemunas source is a very rare wild landscape, not found in Europe. Portraits from Kaliningrad feature young generation, nearly all neatly dressed in military uniform, whilst groups of civilian youth are watching sun set over the crumbling concrete blocks or playing in backyards that haven't seen a lick of paint in decades. Military mood dominates not only the landscape of Kaliningrad, but is also tangible in the everyday life. Kaliningrad is separated from mainland Russia, and therefore it feels like it guards itself from Europe with concrete walls too. Lithuanian branch of Saloshanka's photographic journey incorporates an element of humour, dutifully documenting the basketball hoops installed in very unlikely locations: from village sheds and garages to remote empty fields. Still, Saloshanka's lens notices a truck of soldiers in uniform in a serene village square by the church and an old cannon decorating the entry to a small town. Three different countries, stunning nature, flowing river, new generation, all these components speak of hope, future, regeneration. Yet the military elements picked up by Saloshanka hint at more complex issues, both referring to the past of the region as well as very current tensions. The exhibition has been created with contribution of KAUNAS PHOTO festival's art residency program.State Security agencies such as NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs of USSR) and UB (Department of Security of People's Republic of Poland) established their offices and headquarters around Poland, very often using the same buildings previously used by Gestapo. Basements of headquarters were mainly used as prisons. UB combined the punitive functions and functions of special secret services. Formally engaged in the provision of law and order and state security, in fact was an instrument of political repression of the pro-Soviet Polish regime. NKVD and UB spied on the population, fought dissidents, imprisoned and eliminated objectionable “unwanted” people. Many people were deported to various gulags of the Soviet Union. After 1956, UB was replaced with SB (Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) agency that run until the end of pro-Soviet People's Republic of Poland in 1989.
Curator of the exhibition is Mindaugas Kavaliauskas.
Vitus Saloshanka (born 1974, Minsk, Belarus) is a photographer based in Germany since 2001. After a degree inn law he realized that he was not happy with his choice and spontaneously turned to photography. From 2004 to 2009 he studied photography at the University of Applied Sciences in Dortmund, Germany. His work has been exhibited widely, including the Museum of Arts Müllheim/Ruhr and the Visual Gallery by Photokina Cologne. In 2011, he was awarded a grant from the Foundation Kulturwek VG Bild-Kunst towards the project “high hopes”, becoming a year later a nominee for Dummy Award 2012 at the Photobookfestival in Kassel. In 2014, Saloshanka’s first free book project “high hopes” was selected for the Authors Book Award in Arles and between 2012-2014 it was exhibited on different book shows in Amsterdam, Brighton, Dortmund, Dublin, Helsinki, Malmö, Paris and Tokyo.