Lina Jonikė is one of the well-known contemporary textile artists from Lithuania, combining conceptual photography and embroidery in her works. Her work covers a wide range of themes across the field of individual and collective identity, including aspects of female, male and national identity. Original in their technique Jonikė’s works have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in Europe and Asia. Monika Apčinikovaitė interviewed the artist in her studio, in a small village of Rumšiškės near Kaunas.
How would you describe your works? Can you talk about what techniques you use?
For me, being creative is a necessity. I cannot live without it and therefore, I am commited to my work and that gives me pleasure. In terms of techniques: I use the traditional technique of embroidery, which is really nothing new to the world, but the basis onto which I am embroidering is new and so far no one else but me uses this technique. Embroidery on plastic sheets is time consuming and requires a lot of strength, but for me this meticulous and hard work is essential in achieveing the desired result.
Who is the author of the photographs onto which you embroider?
These are people who have mastered photography techniques and are able to fulfill my ideas. I do not trust my photography skills, so I work with those who have the best knowledge of the medium. I do not want the photographs to look amateur.
It is evident that your work is filled with femininity. Recently you opened a new exhibition titled ”She likes tomatoes”, in which you reveal a woman’s place in a society, family, and also show the woman at different stages of her life and in moments of sensitivity. Does the theme of femininity dominate throughout your work?
I think that in all of the creative work there is always a connection to the personal life. In my case, it’s very subtle. For example, in case of this exhibition, everything was determined by the environment. I always wanted to do an exhibition about the relationship between a pregnant woman and flowers, but it worked out so that the plants disappeared and the tomato cycle appeared, and my good friend, who was pregnant at a time, became my source of inspiration.
All of your works are linked by one fundamental feature – the state of weightlessness, which is created by the photographic image and the embroidered sheet of plastic that’s covering it. Is it important to you how the viewer sees your work?
I am happy when the viewer interprets the work of art in their own individual way, for example, when it’s completely different from my own idea or understanding of it. I do not mind other’s opinions of my works. My main aim is the aesthetic and the way a person sees my work is their own personal concern.
In 2012 you organised an exhibition with the title “I love Lithuania”, where you presented works that reflected the Lithuanian national as well as cultural identity. What was the main idea of the exhibition and is the idea of nationality key in your work?
Everything was very simple: I looked over all of my works and I noticed that everything is united by the same architectural Lithuanian monument, including social, financial as well as personal problems in our country. My works are like a necklace, I create one bead at a time based on a certain theme and later all of these themes come together as one singular piece of beadwork.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on developing an idea and also I am trying to put two materials together, which has not yet been done – thread and cellotape. I am looking for a suitable way to combine these two different materials, because aesthetics in my work are very important for me.
Are you planning on presenting a solo exhibition in the near future?
I plan to finish all of my projects this year. I do not want to create erratically, so the idea has to manifest itself first and only then I can start to realise it. As one piece of work normally takes me around 400 hours, I think that in two years’ time I can plan a solo exhibition.
The participation in projects organised by Kaunas Biennial is very familiar to you. In autumn of 2014 you presented a work entitled “MZ-200.1959” in an exhibition “The Shroud of Time”. Could you comment on your piece?
This work is from my upcoming collection of works entitled “Secrets”. I chose the motorcycle from Mindaugas Šventoraitis’ collection and author of the photograph is Rymantas Penkauskas. In terms of the work, the fabric that covers it hides the object underneath, in this way exaggerating it and, on the other hand, it also attracts the attention and encourages curiosity, the desire to know and understand.