Totalitarian systems seek to control their societies as strictly as possible, but by such measures they provoke resistance and a drive for change. This is what photographer Romualdas Požerskis has captured. In his photographs, we feel the mood of the Sąjūdis Lithuanian national reform movement and the people’s determination to begin a new chapter in Lithuania’s history. And although we see crowds, we don’t need to know history to quickly understand that these are not compulsory gatherings.
People carry banners and flags but they do so willingly and spontaneously, brought together by shared goals. Požerskis highlights this fact in his photograph Baltic Way, in which we see participants and their elated emotions up close. In one image, Požerskis frames several generations of Lithuania’s people to emphasize the country’s unity. The actions of a young woman, a small child, and an elderly man are not guided by any strict rituals of a political celebration. Požerskis recorded the birth of a country and the transition to a free society.
What did life look like in a neighboring country where such a transformation failed to occur?
Baltic Way, 1989
Silver bromide print, 33 × 49
MO Museum collection