Rimaldas Viksraitis was born in 1954 in Sunkariai, Lithuania, and grew up “between marshes and clay” in the secluded Šakiai district: “You couldn’t get out to the world without a large pair of wellingtons.” His passion for photography started at 17, when he bought an old Soviet Smena 8 camera for 15 roubles and began photographing friends and neighbours in his native village. After studying photography at the Vilnius Technical School No. 47, he worked as a commercial photographer for a decade in the region, mainly doing wedding portraits. Viksraitis then began capturing village life, travelling across the country with his camera tied to his bicycle. His stark, painful and often humorous take on reality has been compared to that of British photographer Richard Billingham.
Viksraitis’s images of deepest rural Lithuania mix reportage and voyeurism to surreal and disturbing effect. His studies of drunkenness and dereliction are depressing but strangely beautiful: a farmer bends over a dead pig with a blowtorch, a chicken perched on his back; a young girl stares out of a window over the decapitated head of a goat; a drunk bites the ear of another drunk who is biting the ear of a pig´s head on a plate. Viksraitis’s world is by turns a frightening and darkly comic place.
Since 1985, Viksraitis has been a member of the Union of Lithunanian Art Photographers and was awarded the title of PhotoArtist (AFIAP) by the International Federation of Art Photography (FIAP) in 1997. He received state grants from the Ministry of Culture of the Lithuanian Republic between 2001 and 20114. In 2009, he won the prestigious Discovery Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles, having been nominated by Martin Parr. Major photographic series include Slaughter (1982-86), Nude in a Desolate Farm (1991), A Meadow at 11.00 (1995), This Crazy World (1995), Grimaces of the Weary Village (1998-2006), Farmstead Children (2000-), Farmstead Dreams (2000-). whitespacegallery