In 2004, on a usual weekday, I phoned into one Lithuanian culture-related institution. As usual, I introduced myself: “This is Žygimantas Augustinas...” In responce I heard a muted voice of a woman addressing her colleagues: “Quiet, this is Žygimantas Augustas calling.” That was not the first time when my name was confused with that of a person who happened to be the Great Duke of Lithuania and the King of Poland. The only difference is two letters "in" separating my last name from his majesty last name. Such a juxtaposition with this nationally notorious person haunted me since the childhood and it could not but effect my worldview and self-esteem.
The letters “IN” that both complement my name and separate it from that of the Great Duke, might also be read as a preposition that indicates a place, a time, means, state, or aim. It is precisely these indications that directed me to the 16th century, to the Grand Pallace and the bodies of its inhabitants, which resulted in my becoming part of the Lithuanian-Polish history. By using the method of an ethical self-portraiture developed during the research on the K. Donelaitis case, I embodied myself into the portraits of my namesake and his family members, and transformed my anthropometric measurements according to the measurements taken from Lucas Cranach Jr.’s portraits of the members of Jogaila Dynasty.
Kristijonas Donelaitis (1714–1780) was a Lithuanian poet who left no trustworthy documental portraits of himself. How should he be portrayed? This case became the starting point for the ‘Picture Demand’ project.
The cult of personality sometimes manifests through the desire to acquire the likeness of an adorned leader. According to the classical scientists, things like body language, dressing style, facial expression and the shape of the skull were all traits of personality. By copying Oginskis’ craniometric points from one of his portraits, I tried to become a diplomat, politician, an uprising leader, and a composer.
In order to find the limits of the lie generated by images, I explored the possibilities of incorporating a kettle into a human portrait. I created a system of kettle-craniometry which allowed me to paint Homo Catinus (the kettle human) in accordance with the Western European traditions of portraiture.