Dear Vera!
If you wanna be happy

don‘t love anyone.

From Ona D.

Feb 24, ‘23.

Edited by:
Milda Dainovskytė, Agnė Narušytė

Milda Dainovskytė, Ieva Burbaitė, Agnė Narušytė

A poem “I am” by Laima Kreivytė (Intimate Arithmetic, 2019, Homo liber)

Archive research:
Agnė Narušytė, Giedrė Zuozienė, Milda Dainovskytė

Eglė Ruibytė

Published by:
Kupiškio etnografijos muziejus
Gedimino g. 2, Kupiškis 40114

Works from the funds of Kupiškis Ethnographic Museum
© 2020, Kupiškio etnografijos muziejus, tekstų autoriai
© 2020, Kupiškis Ethnographic Museum, authors of texts

Buy online
For Memory‘s Sake

Veronika Šleivytė (born December 6, 1906 in Antašava, Kupiškis district; died April 21, 1998 in Kaunas, buried in Antašava Cemetery), who grew up in a village, in a large family of Barbora and Jonas Šleiviai, pursued the goal of becoming an artist. Despite her father‘s lack of support, she completed four grades of Kupiškis progymnasium and worked as a teacher in a school founded by the village community from 1923 to 1924. She was better known as a painter in her native area, but few had heard that when she bought her first camera in the inter-war period, she took on photography and represented herself as a woman photographer. This is evidenced by the surviving photographic documentation made by Veronika and Pranas Gaižutis, of the exhibition by members of the first Amateur Photographers' Union in Lithuania. In 1933, in the exhibition arranged in the hall of  the Chamber of Agriculture (Kaunas), Veronika Šleivytė made her debut with 17 photographs, of which 11 can be encountered today.

A camera mounted on a tripod is like a satellite in everyday life, selecting images independently, and the woman in the frame often pretends that she does not notice the lens, overwhelmed by her own concerns. The eyes of the people around her reflect the unexpectedness of the situations – Veronika  seduces them for spontaneity. Her power to control the atmosphere and direct the situations – be it a record of a family gathering for memory or a portrait with a girl friend – reveals itself distinctly. Still lifes, created as if out of nothing, various objects and interiors serve as the stage design of her photographs. The camera has allowed her to liberate herself; running into the frame, she experiments with the power of the image, seeking an opportunity of understanding the “what about you, lovely Vėra?”, and in her directed scenes showing acted out or sincere joy and sorrow, her performances are born.

Often Veronika took pictures in solitude, in her personal space, among items that were dear to her, diving into books, art magazines or personal photo albums. In the multiplying layers, old memories reappear, and we can find their crumbs somewhere on the wall of Veronika‘s room or in the bunch of letters. She then frames the new images, hangs them on the walls, and takes photos of herself again, focusing on precious memories.

The faces found in photographs just a year ago no longer return for a shot in front of Vera‘s lens.

The letter of October 11, 1939, addressed to Veronika, or “The Ministry of Agriculture Drawing House” in Kaunas, reveals the heartache and fear of her beloved sister Felicija who was sailing to America:

“It's been three days as we parted. It was sad to leave you standing at Radviliškis station”,

“We were informed that this would be the last ship to sail to America, because the Russians would not let any ships out any more, and there was a danger that the English would bomb all ships that would sail out of Russian military ports.”

The letters also reveal the tensions that upset the women‘s friendship: “But it remains unclear to me why you still question my sincerity. Remember, for your sake, I have even sacrificed my highest ideals! And what is more precious to one than one‘s ideals, one‘s beliefs?”

“And another thing is, some insurmountable obstacles separate us – the war and the restraint that binds American citizens to prevent them from leaving their country; and that terrible Atlantic Ocean full of mines and other dangers.”

Love letters come to a halt.