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Deimantas Narkevicius - The Role of a Lifetime

Deimantas Narkevicius developed the film The Role of a Liftetime as a response to St Peter's Church in Brighton.

Avoiding the complexities of the challenge which St Peter's then faced of redefinining its role in response to social and demographic change Narkevicius's 16-minute film sought to engage instead with a search for meaning. In the context of St. Peter's The Role of a Lifetime might be understood as a metaphor of our activity as ethical beings, reflecting the fragmented nature of contemporary experience and our unquenchable desire to make sense of the world.

This was Narkevicius's first commission in the UK, and also the first occasion that he had been asked to respond to a situation that had no direct connection with his own lived experience. He approached this challenge not by making his own commentary, but by borrowing the perspectives of others - a Brighton amateur and a distinguished film director - both of whom had engaged with history through the medium of film.

The Role of a Lifetime combines three distinct elements. The first is an interview with the British filmmaker Peter Watkins, recorded in Lithuania where Watkins lived for many years in the course of his self-imposed exile from Britain. The second is a sequence of drawings by Mindaugas Lukosaitis of the Lithuanian landscape, some depicting an unusual theme park, Gruto Park, repository of Social Realist sculptures from the post-war era. The third comprises footage of Brighton life, shot by an amateur film enthusiast and deposited in the South East Film and Video Archive in Brighton. Narkevicius's construction of the film unites these disparate components, relating sound and image to produce a strangely compelling play between Watkins's commentary and the imagery on the screen.

Narkevicius's work was part of the Art and Sacred Places 2003/4 Programme when three artists were invited to make new works for three major churches in the south of England.

Each project had its individual character, but all three investigated the connections between art, spirituality and faith today. In each venue there were activities and events designed to encourage debate and appreciation of the artworks and opportunities to explore the issues raised by them.

Screenings for The Role of a Liftetime were from 23rd October to 27th November 2003 at St Peter's Church. The first screening was timed to coincide with the opening of the first Brighton Photography Biennial. A copy has since been purchased by Tate Modern and the film was screened at the Istanbul Biennial in 2009.

The Catalogue for 'The Role of a Lifetime' is available from Art and Sacred Places price 7.50.

Project funders and supporters included: Arts Council England South East, Arts Council England London, Visiting Arts, Fondation de France, Henry Moore Foundation, London Institute, The Jerusalem Trust, Abbey Harris Mural Fund and Poplar Harca, Research was provided by SE Film and Video Archive and technical support by Mites and MBI Sound and Light.


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