Rooftop free-running through Kėdainiai

Algimantas Barzdžius, a photographer from Kaunas, never hides his love for Kėdainiai, karate, and parkour. It is namely this set of his affections that inspired the photographer to create his new exhibition ‘Without obstacles’. ‘Parkour is an extreme sport where the aim is to change one’s location in the fastest way possible irrespective of any obstacles en route‘.–  this is how the photographer himself defines the object of his exhibition. Actually, parkour is the name given to a leisure pursuit, where a whole range of stunts – including vaulting, jumping, climbing walls – are performed right on the street, in parks, on a variety of buildings, or in nature. Practitioners claim that parkour is more than just a form of entertainment. According to them, it is rather a way of life or philosophy that helps to overcome obstacles in life, and not just those that block their way; it helps to choose the straightest of routes, to brave challenges, however insurmountable they might seem.

The works of the photographer picture a young boy performing breath-taking leaps on the rooftops in the old town of Kėdainiai. Barzdžius was caught by an interesting idea to transfer this unusual kind of sport into this small, though charming and cheerful old town as soon as he saw the parkour stunts performed by this seventeen-year old high school student Titas Valionis.

Photographing a fast-moving person is nothing new for Algimantas. As a member of the Associations of both the Lithuanian Journalists and Art Photographers as well as of the Lithuanian Press Journalists’ Club, for many years he has been engaged in documenting kyokushin karate fights in Lithuania and abroad. Alongside with Titas, one photograph in the exhibition also features the photographer’s daughter Ieva, herself a holder of a black belt in karate. And it is no surprise there, as the philosophy of both these branches of sport is quite similar and so close to life – you have to overcome all obstacles to reach your goal!

This is not the first project of the photographer related to sports. As early as in 1999, in the aftermath of the ‘Žalgiris’ victory in the Euroleague, a collective photography exhibition was held at Algimantas’ initiative, with the participation of all Lithuanian press photographers. ‘I am happy that we were able to find both sponsors for the exhibition and enthusiastic photographers who were willing to participate. It was a time when all of us – both the photographers themselves and the editors who we then were working for – were competing on the basketball court to have the best shot. This, however, did not prevent us from uniting’, reminiscences the long-time press photographer.

Barzdžius spent almost nine months documenting the flights of the young man over various obstructions. That was a shared project of the photographer and the student, also joined by Titas’ friend Augustė, whose carefree leap got captured in one of the photographs.

Is there going to be a sequel? The photographer is frank – only if more people and municipalities willing to present gifted individuals to society happened to come forward. He is convinced that more than one Lithuanian town can be presented to the world by means of non-traditional activities and sports. It is a unique and interesting method that could be employed not only by individual regions but by the entire country for self-advertising. He believes that the project has the right potential: ‘By documenting skills and achievements of young people and showing them to the world, we could present our country in a different and more diversified way, as Lithuania is far more than just picturesque landscapes’, concludes the photographer, who is never short of original ideas himself.