The Role of a Lifetime 2003 explores the complex task of representing history, combining the memories of filmmaker Peter Watkins with images from diverse sources.
Originally trained as a sculptor, Deimantas Narkevicius began working with film in the early 1990s. His films examine the relationship between personal memory and political history, particularly in relation to the profound social changes experienced in Eastern Europe. Employing archival footage, voice-overs, interviews, re-enactments and found photographs, Narkeviciuss films and videos reinterpret historical events by playing with different narrative structures, such as memoir, documentary and drama.
You can hear more about Deimantas’s work in the following TateShots interview with him:
The Role of a Lifetime was commissioned for a church in Brighton. Asked to respond to this unfamiliar context, Narkevicius borrowed the experiences of others and constructed a network of subtle associations between three distinct sets of material.
The film’s soundtrack is derived from an interview with controversial British filmmaker Peter Watkins, recorded in Lithuania where Watkins lived for many years. The accompanying images alternate amateur footage of life in 1960s Brighton with a series of landscapes drawn by Lithuanian artist Mindaugas Lukošaitis, including depictions of Gruto Park, a unique gathering of socialist realist sculptures preserved from the communist era. This juxtaposition of incongruous elements enriches the reading of each image, yet remains enigmatic.
Watkins and Narkevicius share a distrust for the conventions of the documentary genre and its claims to authenticity. As film-makers, they show a similar commitment to a cinematic language which embraces ambiguity and blurs the lines between impartial observation and subjective statement, between testimony and storytelling.
Deimantas Narkevicius was born in 1964 in Utena, Lithuania. He lives and works in Vilnius.
Curated by Stuart Comer and Valentina Ravaglia.
Text by Valentina Ravaglia.