05. – 24.09.2017. the photo exhibition “Surveillance” by Valentyn Odnoviun is on view at Cesis New Castle barn exhibition hall. Valentyn Odnoviun spent two months in Cesis as part of the Rucka Arts Centre Residency programme in 2016/2017. During that period, he created the Prison Cell-Door Spy Hole photographs of KGB prisons in Riga and Cesis which feature in the Surveillance exhibition.
The project Surveillance presented in the exhibition consists of photographs of the walking yards and prison cell-door spy holes in former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Lithuania; Riga, Latvia, popularly known as Stūra māja [Building on the Corner]; Lviv, Ukraine, known as Turma na Lonckoho [Prison on Lonsky]; the KGB prison in Cesis and the STASI Hohenschönhausen remand prison in Berlin, Germany.
The KGB (Committee for State Security), or cheka, was the main security agency for the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. KGB prison cells became places for political prisoners and objectionable people, “undesirables” because of their dissent and “anti-Soviet activities”.
In the Baltic States and Ukraine, these same places were used for similar purposes by the Nazi Gestapo, when these countries were under German occupation during WWII.
The STASI (Ministry for State Security) was the official state security service of East Germany, which was part of the Soviet bloc until the reunification of Germany in 1990. STASI’s main task was spying on the population through a vast network of informants, and combating opposition, dissidents and “hostile elements.” Hohenschönhausen prison was divided into a new section with more than 200 new prison cells and interrogation rooms, and an old part that was called U-Boot [Submarine] and situated in the basement with no windows.
All these repressive systems used the same methods, which they developed over time, based on common experiences.
My photographs created as part of this project are both documentary and subjective at the same time. They embody real traces of events, objects and memories, but they also serve as platforms for imagining these events, objects and memories in a more interpretative form. With an “abstract” photograph, viewers play a bigger role in the reaction to it, and thus the creation of the image they see.
The project was conducted with the support of the RUCKA Artist Residency,the State Culture Capital Foundation, Nordic- Blatic Mobility Programme Culture and the Tokina (Polska) Lens company.
Valentyn Odnoviun was born in 1987 in Ukraine. Graduated from Vilnius Art Academy (Master of Photography). In 2014, he obtained a scholarship for studies in Lithuania from the Education Exchange Support Foundation. In 2015, he was selected to study at the Lodz Art Academy under the Erasmus programme. In 2016, he enrolled in the Art Criticism department of the Vilnius Art Academy.
His works have been exhibited in Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, New Zealand and USA. For the last four years, he has been living and working in Lithuania. The Surveillance project saw Valentyn Odnoviun win first place at the Debiutas 2016 award for Emerging Art Photographers, held by the Lithuanian Union of Art Photographers. Valentyn Odnoviun spent two months in Cesis as part of the Rucka Art Centre Residency programme in 2016/2017 and supported by Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme “Culture”. During that period, he created the Prison Cell-Door Spy Hole photographs of KGB prisons in Riga and Cesis which feature in the Surveillance exhibition.
The exhibition has been organised by Rucka Artist Residency in cooperation with the Institute for Environmental Solutions. The project has been carried out with the financial support of the State Culture Capital Foundation, Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme Culture and the Tokina (Polska) company.
“Surveillance”, Prison Cell Door Spyholes. KGB Prison, Riga,Latvia, 2016
“Surveillance”, Prison Cell Door Spyholes. KGB Prison, Cesis, Latvia, 2016