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The Sun or the Ode to Bananas

Art pieces made in 2021.

Pottery, wood board, textile.

Height 150 cm

Width 150 cm

Depth 30 cm

Somehow I’ve been caught by the Yellow Wave too: suddenly, all I could see was the colour yellow that always seemed like the queen of sweets to me, sugar that I associated with superficiality, deception, Soviet propaganda, the Stalinist sun, and all that. I, myself, avoided it for the longest of time.

I grew up in the Old Town of Vilnius. We were deep in the Soviet era… Colours were a rare phenomenon at the time, and yellow was almost non-existent. Everything was grey and very boring and so was the daily life. People were a grey angry faceless scared mass.

There was an old vegetable shop on Vokiečių Street. They would occasionally have exotic fruits, such as oranges, mandarins, bananas, and we would queue up for 5 to 6 hours. For whatever reason, they sold the fruits from the courtyard’s side instead of the main floor, which meant that if you wanted to buy 2 kilos of bananas, you had to stand in the cold, wind, or rain, sometimes even at −25 ºC.

You could never be sure you would be able to get them. I found observing the interactions between people fascinating: politeness was scarce, and after a while, it would all turn into some sort of silence and observation of each other…and then into anger and aggression, often culminating in fights. After all, even after queueing for 5 to 6 hours under said conditions, you were never sure you’d get a hold of those bananas of your dreams: they could get sold out right under your nose. What a horror!!!

For whatever reason, the lucky ones that managed to get them, would keep those half-green bananas in dark cupboards. Some, having got down on their knees like it was an altar of some sorts, would smell the cupboard’s door with the coveted bananas behind it. The moment of enjoyment was endless. The precious fruits would usually get counted. One can hardly imagine how hard a person’s heart would start beating after getting to hold the banana of their dreams…It was only after giving it a very good sniff that you allowed yourself to take a bite. I’m never going to forget their taste…

Perhaps it was exactly those childhood memories that inspired me to create the piece ‘Saulė’ (‘The Sun’). Bananas was symbol of prosperity of the Soviet apparatchiks, like a dream, like a smell of a different, better quality of life. Whoever got to lay their hands on them, definitely had an exclusive status and a party ticket. Meanwhile in the West, as people claimed back then, they were cheaper than potatoes and readily available everywhere.

And now we can easily buy them as well, and they are, in fact, cheaper than potatoes.