I have always been attracted by a peculiar phenomenon of late socialism, large garage areas, called ‘garage towns’ in Lithuanian. Spanning extensive areas, these garages were part of the social fabric. For example, my classmate’s father used to park his Soviet Lada in his garage, but the garage was so far away that he still had to take a trolleybus to get home. Clearly, such garages were not just a matter of convenience, but rather homes for cars, which in turn were not so much a means of transport, but rather mechanical pets, that required time, attention and an array of extraordinary tools to fix them.
Thinking that this late Soviet lifestyle had completely disappeared in today’s Lithuania, on a recent trip to the IKEA that has recently opened up on the edge of Vilnius, I was surprised to see a sprawling garage town nearby.
There I stood on Prusu Street with 500 garage doors were staring at me, a relic from the past inviting me to engage with a world in which there was no IKEA, no conspicuous consumption, and cars broke down. I accepted their challenge.
This is how this series of photographs of garage doors was born.
By documenting these objects that are, most likely, about to disappear from Lithuanian society, I wished to communicate to the viewer the ambivalent, aesthetic, but also human significance of these garage doors.
Beautifully painterly, these doors do not need be explained to the beholder. It is the fascinating play of colour and texture that I attempted to capture with my camera.
But in doing that I found myself documenting human dignity: the dignity of the garage owners, elderly, definitely not rich people, who, by sticking to their property, garages, literally maintain their ground in an urban landscape on which big businesses increasingly make claim.
It will take time for corporations to get rid of these islands of extravagant individualism: being too many, too dispersed, and probably too disorganised, garage owners are hard to find. Accordingly, their property, simultaneously private and collective, cannot easily be bought.
As long as they last, this uncanny beauty remains.
The complete series involve the photographs of about 200 astonishing doors in the garage town and several mosaics.
GICLEE PRINT OPTIONS: HAHNEMÜHLE GERMAN ETCHING 310 G PAPER; CANON LUCIA PIGMENT INK.
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