Imantas Selenis had recently taken over the Guardian’s Cities Instagram and presented the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. It caused an uproar in the (local) press as residents were traumatized by the piercingly honest perspective of the photographer. While Lithuanians are usually proud to present their capital’s historic Old Town, Imantas bypassed the tourist-facing facade and instead looked at the city honestly, without artificial glamour. He made it look just a little bit—rather than the usual whole lot—better than it actually is.
And so, I found in Imantas a photographer longing for reality. Though as I discovered, he’s no ordinary realist. Wherever he turns his revelatory photographic lens, he transforms pleasing outward appearances into revealing internal examinations.
For example, in his freshly minted series, You Are Here, Imantas pulls us into the story of Minos (of Minotaur fame) by restaging the myth in the heart of contemporary London. The City, as it’s known, is the beating core of London’s financial industry (as well as the recent skyscraper-building-boom). It’s a glass and steel labyrinth built by modern-day Daedalian architects. It bends on itself and wraps around the unsuspecting victims. We don’t notice the structure even when consulting a map—it simply says “You Are Here” while never showing us a way out.
Indeed, there is none—no pale Cnossian girl with her wound-up thread will ever appear in these labyrinthine twists. Even the crispy backlit portraits (completely untouched by Imantas) picture the ignorant, self-interested figures xeroxing to infinity their steps (which go in circles, anyways). Isn’t that a doll? A vacant body, a wire inside and a face that’s only surface? Who can tell the difference.
The city as a whole appears like a carpet lost in space. It is stretched like a band-aid, as if the urban sky had bruised the earth and left a spot, vile and deceitful. Even down to a copper penny—the blind one—hiding in a dusty corner, under an empty pack of “smoking kills.” We might all be looking for that one spark in the dark but hey, there’s somewhere else we must go today.