The Baltic Notebooks of Anthony Blunt
A Hand in a Hologram
What is a life? A frenzy. What is life?
A shadow, an illusion, and a sham.
The greatest good is small; all life, it seems
Is just a dream, and even dreams are dreams.
-- Pedro Calderón de la Barca, 1635
In a realm thoroughly imbued with performativity, I would like to write a plain review on a complex exhibition – Raimundas Malašauskas’s Photo Finish at CAC Vilnius, which opened on November 25th.
But on the other hand, since I have two of them, I will write about the show from its inside. My own humble reflection in one of the holograms gives me the right (or left) to do this.
When I start to talk about a certain misundertanding concerning the relationship between the audience and the event, my right hand rises unbridled and my left hand shuts my mouth for saying so. Finally, many of those who attended the opening of the Photo Finish exhibition were in one way or another involved in some choreography proposed by Raimundas Malašauskas; many stories were spread by participants and spiralled in the snakelike line of people waiting for the Vilnius Sling cocktail, mixed specially for the vernissage.
From where I stand in a hologram, I hear a lot of stories. And I see another hologram in front of me – the one from a series Who’s Face Rings the Bell, presented in a previous hologram show, Done, in Tulips&Roses gallery in Brussels (23 April – 11 June, 2011). Twin brothers Egidijus Praspaliauskas and Remigijus Praspaliauskas were posing for it. From a certain angle when I turn my head I see them as one. So I wave to them with both hands alternately.
Since the process of making a hologram involves a form of filming, and thus cinematography, in which you have the past represented, I should probably be speaking from the past too. But here, time exists in a set of manifold dimensions, doesn’t it…
Left hand: in 1926 Gertrude Stein used composition as an explamatory means within a linear text, entitled 'Composition as Explanation'. Normally, the eye establishes the univocal relation of a chain between the elements of which the text is composed. Those who use texts to understand the world, mean a world adhering to a linear structure. But to perceive the hologram exhibition we are in, one needs to employ an omnifarious way of reading – a way of reading without any particular order. The order exists in a variety of orders. But as the choreographer Maestro Algis Stravinskas, a whilom dancing star of the Soviet Lithuania sky, said on the occasion of the opening of Photo Finish: “I am an artist, Algis Stravinskas. You will never catch that moment where and how and what is exactly to be found. What an interesting thing, that you are unable to catch the moment that’s really the point that you would like to get to. And if you don’t get to it, it’s really great. It’s an abstract moment which should be respected.”
In search for that moment, or in search for a structure of invisibility, I’ve always respected mathematicians. Especially those working (break-dancing) in the areas of probability theory, applied geometry and topology. So here I imagine a continuously distorted topological shape that is an object to bridge all the possibilities of the Photo Finish in one space (real, imaginary or symbolical and constantly distorted space). The topological composition of the whole event is then working in a way one could imagine gliding the multiplied and curved Möbius strip surface – going in and out the hologram. The starting point for a ride can become any that your eye caught while slowly turning the head. Whatever you will see will become a focal point. The depth of a hologram needs only this to be seen – a turn of a head. And a zip of a cocktail Vilnius Sling. The trip called Photo Finish never reaches an end – the focal points are morphing and repeating themselves, each of them involving us in a new set of relations. Choose a point in a holographic Möbius strip and if you try to follow it you will see that it is breeding in and in. Inside the three holographic pictures exposed in the dark exhibition room in CAC Vilnius, one sees the other exhibition(s) emerging.
Right hand (that’s been waving to the left one for some time already): The focus is also on the actors from a play by Peter Ustinov called Photo Finish that was staged at the Theatre of Youth in Vilnius, 1982. At the age of 80 its protagonist meets himself at the age of 60, 40 and 20. The role was played by four different actors, but they appeared on stage at the same time – it’s as if the same person was composed of four different people. In 2011, the actors did not remember the play very well, but their meeting created a situation that was holographic in itself. Their recollections turned into something else, varying from topics of reincarnation and film making to the lost brightness of skin and two sided face effect. “You can only film the right side of my face, the left is of another type of character,” said Gerardas Žalėnas. He became a reflection of Antanas Šurna, and Arūnas Storpirštis became a reflection of Elvyra Žebertavičiūtė. Or maybe Kristina Andrejauskaitė, who stands in front of what looks like a wallpaper with ducks in another hologram?
Left hand: Is Arūnas Storpirštis a rabbit in a hologram then?

RH: The actors staged in a hologram are reflecting in a mirror, which is held by the initiator or rather two of them. The first Raimundas Malašauskas is holding a mirror whose form is a silhouette of a Breton bonnet of one of the prayers immersed into the Vision after the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel) (1888) by Paul Gauguin – it was an idea by Rosalind Nashashibi. The other Raimundas, a few minutes later (the time of a shoot in a digital hologram making process), is holding another mirror – a slight rightward of the head performed by Gintaras Didžiapetris – it’s the same mirror (and the same head), just turned. Once in a while you can also catch a glimpse of the joyous cookies by Elena Narbutaitė – “Like a series of flat apparitions perforating the illusion,” Jonas Žakaitis explains in front of it.
LH: A few more characters and people are reflected and represented in that exhibition in the hologram – Sarah Rifky, Rūta Junevičiūtė (or Gerda Paliušytė?) talking to Chiara Fumai…oh, and is this the bearded lady Annie Jones close to Infanta Margarita or Maribarbola? The whole composition inside and outside of the exhibition in the hologram shares resemblances with Las Meninas by Diego Velasques.
RH: We cannot take in all the figures of that painting in one glance.
LH: The same here. But since in the holography each part contains the whole –
RH: …it is only valid for analogue holography though,
LH: but it is not only the digital holograms presented in the exhibition that Malašauskas uses to represent the hologram idea. Each moment in a holography (the cookie, the duck, the mirror, Audrey Cottin, Paul Perry, Willem Flusser, two accordionists playing Francis Alÿs’ Lupita song…) is separate from the time of its subject and its subject’s space. You can recreate the whole from a single part since time has no causality in a hologram.
RH: So when I speak from inside of the hologram I am not speaking from the past.
LH: That’s right. You are time yourself. And you are me reflected in a hologram.