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Art installation “Justice”

We are often angered by government decisions, rising prices and property taxes. We don’t miss an opportunity to comment angrily on Facebook or at least to mumble to ourselves, while the last verses of the national anthem are still swirling in our heads. But… maybe it’s not all that bad? We live in a country with a well-developed legal system, human rights, law and order. We are all entitled to our own opinions and we can express them loudly, even if they are controversial. 10 December is Human Rights Day. To mark this date, I have worked with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania to create an art installation called “Justice”, which reminds us of our rights and freedoms and encourages us to appreciate living in Lithuania.

Justice is a forbidding theme, and not generous with inspiration for an artist. In this work I looked for the right associations and symbols to give the viewer an unambiguous message. My work is often depicts by women, so “Justice” became a continuation of the theme. After much deliberation, I settled on the historical image of Themis, the goddess of justice. I wanted to give the traditional symbol a distinctive interpretation and a modern twist. I used the motifs of the blindfold and scales from Greek mythology, however the colors, and style of the installation are contemporary. The rusted chains bring to mind the punishment for crime.  To give it a Lithuanian identity, I chose my favourite modernised art deco style. This choice was inspired by the paintings of Kazys Šimonis, which are rich in national elements. I combined two different techniques – painting and a collage of used props that I collected.

Used spectacles make up the background of the installation. The process of collecting the glasses took more than six months, involved thousands of people from cities all over Lithuania and netted approximately two thousand pairs of glasses. The most important institutions in the country – the Ministry of Justice, the Chamber of Courts, the European Commission Representation in Lithuania, the Bar Council and others – also took part in the process. The Minister of Justice, Ewelina Dobrowolska, and the Prime Minister, Ingrida Šimonytė, donated their long-worn and much-loved glasses. The collection and use of old glasses in the collage symbolises the fact that we all have different ways of seeing not only the same phenomenon or object, but we also have different perceptions of the same truth. What is important is that every word is worthy of respect and listening to.

The subject of the installation, Themis, the Goddess of justice is portrayed on a bright yellow background. On this background I painted several hundred rudbeckia flowers, which symbolise justice. Before gluing the glasses on the installation, I carefully selected, cleaned and sorted them according to colour, shape and size. I had to experiment a lot before I found the right fixing technique. I used the glasses in two different ways: in some places I used only the lenses, in others I chose the frames. I glued the components to a solid, flat background to form volumetric flowers. The polished glass of the optical lenses created a convex optical effect.

The background represents the sun , and its rays, which are a symbol of positivity and purity. This image forms a corona behind Themis in an art deco style. The silhouette of the goddess was cut out of a solid panel, which I then used to create the finished artwork. We made the scales from an old, rusty chain. This materiality was inspired by a sculpture I had made earlier, “Steadfastness”, in which I used fused broken glass and welded chains. The chosen technique symbolises truth – sometimes undeniably strong, yet sometimes extremely fragile.

The artwork “Justice” is exhibited in a prestigious place of honour – the Ministry of Justice. Themis will now become a witness to the country’s law and order and will watch ower the legal community who have sworn an oath to the State. This includes judges, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs and forensic experts, etc.

Dimensions: 310 x 230 x 25 cm