Juodytė Jurgita

Jurgitajuodyte.Gera motina_bloga motina Good Mother, Bad Mother, 2013, video performance, 45 min. Performed at a playground for children.

One day we become mothers. Nobody teaches us how to play this game. Yet society expects us to do everything right. “Be a good mother,” we are told. So we keep hopping around, trying to make good parenting decisions and avoid bad ones. There is no school for motherhood. The nine months of pregnancy and the pangs of delivery are supposed to miraculously transform a woman into a mother, an egocentric individual seeking financial autonomy, spiritual growth and self-dependence into a self-sacrificing one. Yet eventually the contours of the evaluation criteria become blurred, and it is only the end result – the child – that remains important.

Jurgitajuodyte Tarmė Dialect, 2013, video performance, 5 min. Performed at a construction site. .

THE LINGUISTIC TRADITION GROWS SILENT, UNDERGOES TRANSFORMATION AND SUFFERS DEFEAT IN THE FACE OF GLOBALIZATION. A dialect is an unchanging, stable, innate, earliest linguistic skill received with blood. Archaic heritage does not change in time and is strictly tied to a certain location and its inhabitants, which produces an isolated habitat, a closed community that speaks a specific language only its members can understand. Continuity of tradition requires transmission, any disturbance of the routine ways of the isolated habitat (e. g. emigration) introduces rules of its own and leads to decline of the tradition (“Granny, do you have chickens?” – a little boy asks his grandma when he comes from London to visit her in the village of Vaitkūnai, Kaišiadorys district, saying the phrase in Lithuanian except the English “chickens”).

Jurgitajuodyte Šiuolaikinės madonos_01

Contemporary Madonnas, 2011-2013, photographs in lightboxes, 430 x 604 mm, 8 pieces. The project involved childless thirty-something women of different professions.

Contemporary madonnas do not necessarily hold a baby in their lap. They hold numerous other things – their jobs, careers, homes, mortgages, hobbies, renovations, loved ones, pets, parents, journeys… and themselves. What does a woman hold in her hands if she has no infant in here life? How to stand firm against the social pressure: “Time is ticking away – you are thirty already…”? What kind of movement do her hands make – defence, rest, struggle, surrender..? While photographing the women, the element of waiting was important to me. Waiting for them to relax to the point where unusual clothing or stage props stopped bothering them. That was the moment when I would press the shutter button. At that very instant a contemporary childless madonna would go back to being a lawyer, manager, artist, accountant… or simply herself. The project was exhibited at Gallery 101 in Kaunas (2011), Klaipėda Culture Communication Centre’s exhibition hall (2012), and Center for Contemporary Art Plovdiv, The Ancient Bath, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (2013).

Jurgitajuodyte Nuotaka Till Death Do Us Part, 2011, video performance, 9 min. Performed in a Catholic church.

One is supposed to marry once and for a lifetime. Yet sometimes marriage lasts only ten metres – from the central altar to the church’s door. These ten metres contain joy, expectations and… pain, if they end in a failure. “Till death do us part.” God binds. People break. A woman wearing a bridal dress and veil rolls up the red carpet spread in the central aisle of the church. She dips the edge of her dress in the water and starts washing the floor with it. Her kneeling figure moves from the central altar to the central exit. It moves slowly, dragging the water vessel along. The whole central aisle of the church is washed with the edge of the bride’s dress. As it reaches the central exit, the figure disappears.

Jurgitajuodyte Ir Kaune galima gyventi

There Are People in Kaunas, Too, 2007, posters in public spaces.

We live in a city whose profound inferiority complex becomes a matter of debate in the press, online, and in private conversations; the municipality of Kaunas is trying hard to change the city’s negative image. These publicity efforts become ridiculous when they take the form of ambiguous social advertising messages in public spaces. The project There Are People in Kaunas, Too explores the methods of building a city’s image. It functions as an ironic comment on the stereotypical figure of a Kaunas resident. In this case, the project’s message also mocks the capital’s perception of “the periphery”. The project seeks to confuse the viewer by creating an illusion of competition. The social advertising campaign There Are People in Kaunas, Too is transferred to Vilnius. Here the billboard was exhibited for a month at the intersection of Pylimo and Kalinausko streets.

Art critic on…

Once again, artist Jurgita Juodytė probes the expectations that a woman faces, her role in society, and the feeling that comes with the realization of this. She listens attentively to the external requirements – the lifestyles imposed by advertising, the stereotypical division of household chores and, in this case, the clichés of Christian iconography – and tries them on as if they were clothes. Employing the strategy of transgression (adoption of the other’s views), the artist observes, and invites the viewer to observe, the consequences of her experiment – the discovered mismatches and emerging new meanings.

Monika Krikštopaitytė

Keywords of Artistic Practice: video performance, feminism, photography, women, society, social being

Artists I admire: Marina Abramovic, Gediminas ir Nomeda Urbonai, Krzysztof Wodiczko

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