Let's get naked in Dublin (or Cork)!

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Get naked in Dublin and become a piece of art!

I've never done anything like that, but hey, we only live once, so if you feel like revealing your private bits in front of the camera with a couple of hundred and possibly thousand of other exhibitionists or aficionados of all things naked, go to this website and register to pose for Spencer Tunick's installation in Dublin or Cork! Long live art!

Spencer Tunick's photograph of Mexico City


A singer of Indian origin assaulted in Vilnius

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A woman, serving in Lithuania's National Defence Volunteer Forces was arrested today for assaulting a singer from South Africa in the very heart of the Lithuanian capital. Berneen, who became popular in Lithuania after participating in various TV shows, was attacked in Vilnius by a group of thugs more than a week ago. The 22-year-old singer was attacked with fists, called "nigger" and recalls being beaten with a belt buckle by the female attacker.

Lithuanian media quotes unofficial sources claiming that 22-year-old Violeta Iljinych admitted to attacking Berneen, but denies racism as the reason for the assault.

Berneen. Photo©Delfi.lt

Berneen said this was the first time she ever experienced a racist attack and she would suspend her musical career in Lithuania but would not leave the country. "You cannot escape such people because they exist everywhere. I do not plan to run from somebody calling me a "nigger", said Berneen, who had been living in this Baltic state for nine months.

Although the music Berneen is performing wouldn't be my cup of tea, I agree with our president Valdas Adamkus, who has called the assault "great shame to Lithuania". I know it is just an individual case, yet still... shame.

Lithuanians should get used to the fact that while they were behind the Iron curtain there were many people of all colours behind it.

While I think the fact that Berneen is black helped her gain a petit celebrity status in Lithuania (and we have more examples of the so called "exotic" celebrities in Lithuania), beating up a girl besides one of the most visited tourists attractions because of her skin is degrading. Even more humiliating is the fact that although the assault happened at around 8 pm in such a popular place, no witnesses seem to be mentioned apart the girl who was walking with Berneen. Shameful silence.


Good bye Ireland!

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That's it. Finito. Adieu. Tschüss. Slán agat (please correct me if my Irish is wrong).

Good bye Ireland! Hello Nederland!

Dear Lina, in response to your application for admission to Utrecht University we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Research MA programme Media Studies.

Found out last week. Thus the reason for failing to update this blog more frequently.

Few seem to understand the subject of my studies, when I say that I'm going to Utrecht to study media. Majority think I'm continuing my journalism studies, yet nothing to do with that (and that is the main reason I chose Utrecht)- the programme is very comprehensive and interdisciplinary, focusing on the cultural and historical construction of old and new media and their impact on citizenship and cultural identity (ancient theatre to cinema, interactive television to YouTube, multi-media dance performances to computer games).

After a few months of sorting out the application, preparing for TOEFL and translating my Bachelor's thesis I'm ÜBEREXCITED! Just a few of the courses I'll be taking:

State Of The Art In Media Studies
Technobodies In Cyberspace
Spatiality/Themporality In The (New) Media

Ranked as the 7th best university in Europe in Academic Ranking of World Universities (sandwiched betwen the universities of Paris and Copenhagen and as the 42nd best university in the world, Utrecht looks like a great place to study (yet THES - QS World University Rankings position it slightly lower - # 89 - still pretty good).

So I just need to sort out my finances for the next two years (they've promised assistance). Otherwise I'll start selling the remains of my wine rack, my cameras, my Mac and then myself.

I guess, the rest of my musings will be either hommages to Dublin and the Emerald Isle or oversaturated bitchings about the Orish, which I had in the cold storage up till now and was delaying to post because of the uncertainty about my future.

Utrecht - beautiful, isn't it?


My first movie. "60 seconds"

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As I've said in "You Tube", this is part of my project for NCAD course.

At first made with soundtrack (Sigur Ros "Sé Lest"), but then I thought the song is too good itself. So just play anything you like, if you feel it.

60 seconds and almost a minute. Time spotting.

"If I talk about time, it's because it doesn't exist. If I talk about a place, it's because it has disappeared. " (from Jean Luc Goddard's "Dans le noir du temps"). I guess it shouldn't be on You Tube.


Life before death and heavy traffic. Contemplating on time

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About four years ago my photography teacher Jurgita Remeikyte - a renowned visual media artists was showing to a bunch of us - passionate amateurs - portraits of sleeping children. Serene black and white close-ups. Actually, they were not sleeping. Those were dead children and I can't seem to find the artist who took the portraits. One woman who was with me in the course couldn't look at the photographs when she was told that those were dead children.

At the moment I am researching the concept of time for my final NCAD project and one of my main inspirations is the remarkably thought-provoking collection of shorts Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet and The Cello. I loved the short by Volker Schlöndorff "The Enlightenment" in particular, which is a reflection on Augustine's contemplation about time. For instance, this one:

"In our soul we feel three different times: there is the present of the past, which is remembrance, there is the present of the present, which is contemplation , and there is the present of the future, which is expectation."

After publishing photographs of people before and and just after their death by a German photographer Walter Schels guardian.co.uk traffic-wise experienced its busiest day ever. Death frightens and mesmerises, especially when juxtaposed with life.

"The moments of the past do not remain still; they retain in our memory the motion which drew them towards the future, towards a future which has itself become the past, and draw us on in their train." (Marcel Proust)


Eastern European Food - Still Behind the Curtain

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Eastern European shops welcome the Irish, yet only a few dare to venture them. And when they do, quite often they face staff who struggle with English.

It is a drizzly Friday afternoon and Polonia, a shop around the corner from my house, is empty. Inside it is a bit gloomy and quite cold. I pass the shelves with dozens of jars of "Żurek" and approach the girl standing behind the counter. I introduce myself and ask her if she could answer a few questions. The girl looks at me with an apologetic smile and says: "Speak little English". I ask her if there is anybody who does. She says "My boss", but apparently he is not in. As I leave the shop I look at the sign above the entrance. "Welcome. The best food from Eastern Europe." It could be. It's a shame there isn't anybody who could show you around.

Next stop is Rathmines. Two women working in Polonez, located on a busy junction, just across the road from Dunnes Stores and Tesco, are preparing for another busy weekend. 27-year-old Aleksandra Voronko arrived to Dublin last autumn and this is the first job she got. Recently the Lithuanian woman told the manager she would be leaving in two weeks. She would like a better paid job and doesn't want to work evenings anymore, since she hopes to enrol to an English course soon. Although Aleksandra spend nearly half a year in Ireland, her English didn't improve much, since majority of the customers are from Eastern Europe. She speaks Lithuanian, Russian and she managed to learn a little bit of Polish, while some Romanian customers insist on her speaking Romanian - Aleksandra has darker skin than many blue eyed Lithuanian women and some customers accuse her of pretending to be Lithuanian. On the other hand, her exotic looks won her some admirers. A customer gave her 15 red roses on March 8 - the International Women's Day. I ask where was he from. Like majority of the customers, he wasn't Irish - he was Moldavian.

There are no Irish goods in Polonez, which is part of a chain of six shops, yet although all products have descriptions in English, oftentimes Irish customers poke at them asking "what is this". Majority of the Irish who shop here have Eastern European partners, I am told. Sweets, chocolate and biscuits are most popular among them, while smoked mackerel and birch sap still have to find their way to Irish tables. When I ask if more Irish could be drawn to the shop, a woman who works with Aleksandra and prefers to remain anonymous, points at the sign on the window "Eastern European Food". She maintains that Irish will stick to their food.

Things look a bit different across the river. When I first came to Dublin eight years ago, there was only one shop selling Eastern European food. It was Slavyanskaya Lavka (Slavic Counter) on Moore Street. I stroll through Talbot Street which over the past couple of years transformed itself into an Eastern European quarter. I count three Polish shops, a few Polish barbers, a Lithuanian food shop, a Georgian restaurant, a Lithuanian hairdresser, a Russian DVD rental, a Ukrainian real estate agency and it is possible I have missed a few more businesses in the kaleidoscope of tacky signs. There are almost as many Polish rushing past me on this busy street as there Irish and I ask Katarzyna Wolf, a Polish girl who has been working in Polski Sklep for half a year, if any of them pop into her shop. She briefly replies "yes", but when I start a conversation, she asks to wait for her friend, because her English is not sufficient to answer my questions.

When Marta Wypych - a bubbly Polish girl arrives, it appears that she works in Polski Sklep as well. Marta started working here a year ago and she says she stays only for the customers. "I know their stories. Some Polish people buy bread, stay in the shop and talk for 40 minutes," observes Marta. According to her, up to a quarter of the customers are Irish and they mainly buy Polish bread, because "Irish bread is like chewing gum". The bread is baked in a Polish bakery in Dublin. "They love Polish bread, you should try it," Marta tries to twists my arm and I'm almost tempted to see if Polish bread is as good as Lithuanian.

Despite the fact that there are dozens of Eastern European shops in Ireland, last October Marta Fekulova decided that the market had a niche for another nationality and opened a Slovak food shop on North Circular Road. According to census figures, Marta is one of 8 thousand Slovaks living in Ireland. A dwarfish share, compared with the Poles, yet the empty shelves prove the owner of the shop might be quite right. Martha was begging not to photograph the shop, since she was waiting for the delivery on the day I was talking to her and didn't want others to think that the shop was not busy. When asked if Irish were buying anything, she said they liked the salads, yet there was only one or two of them.

Although Polish consist the largest ethnic group in Ireland, with official census figures showing that there are 63 thousand of them, Lithuanian grocery shops started to spring up earlier, with "Lituanica" opening on Amiens Street seven years ago. The shop is still there - looking greener than the fields Emerald Island and with the business soaring higher than the aircraft after which the shop was named. In 1933 "Lituanica", piloted by two Lithuanians, crossed the Atlantic ocean after taking off from New York. While the the aircraft crashed, Dublin's "Lituanica" is successfully moving on. Over a period of 7 years it evolved into a chain of retail stores, and today the company has become a wholesale supplier of Eastern European food to over 500 shops in Ireland and the UK. The success is obviously driven by the massive influx of Eastern European immigrants to Ireland.

Laima Adomaitiene has been working in "Lituanica" for a year and a half. The shop is popular among Polish, Latvians, Romanians and sometimes they even get Spanish or German customers. Laima observes that Poles tend to buy Polish food, while Lithuanians prefer Lithuanian specialities. "Even if it is the same chicken drumstick, people prefer when it comes from the same country as they do," says Laima and mentions the fact that when she arrived to Ireland, her diet included a lot of Irish food and she put on some weight. Yet after returning to Lithuanian products, she forgot weight problems.

Laima admits that the shop is not very popular with the Irish: "They are patriotic. They are loyal to Irish food," observes she. Even though "Lituanica" sells eggs and milk, they are not Irish.

Yet her colleague Almina Binkauskiene offers a possible solution: "Lithuanians must interact with the Irish more and introduce them to Lithuanian food. We must integrate more."

Integration springs to my mind when I enter "Perestroika" - a Moldavian food shop on North Circular Road, named after Mikhail Gorbachev's attempted economic and social reforms in the Soviet Union. The shop has an excellent selection of Lithuanian smoked meats, Polish cakes and Moldavian wines - the nostalgic mostly sweet tipple of Iron Curtain times.

After struggling to start a conversation with the woman behind the counter in English, I employ the bits of Russian I learned while watching Soviet TV in my childhood and the curtain of misunderstanding between us splits. Moldavian Otilia Vizdoaga explains that "Perestroika" is one of four Moldavian shops in Ireland and she says it is mostly popular with Romanians, Moldavians, Polish and Lithuanians. There are no Irish in "Perestroika" as I speak with Otilia and I doubt there will be many at any time soon.

I look at the brightly lit fridges, which offer a zillion times better range than my local Spar, and quietly thank God for Soviet TV.

photos©Lina Zigelyte
Written for "Metro Eireann"


End of the road to Mr. Ahern?

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Roughly at around 4 pm today I was told that I possibly was the only person who didn't know about the news. I asked what news.

I was hoping he would resign, but I thought the road might be longer and more winding for Mr Ahern. It was quite long anyway. Three terms. Fair play. I've been asking people recently, whether he was a good politician. Some said yes, others - no. Almost everybody agreed he was a good liar. I guess Lord Acton was right, when saying that "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Yet I continue to be amazed by the Irish. If Mr Ahern hadn't announced about his resignation, would the people have gone into the streets? Or would they continue to quietly grumble about him like they do about Dublin busses running late? And if the people hit the streets, whom would you see there?

This reminds me of the impeachment of Lithuania's previous president Rolandas Paksas, dubbed by half of Lithuanian public "tampaxas" (a connotation with you know what). The other half of the population, mainly old, nostalgic and fooled people hit the streets and expressed their support to R. Paksas with songs and flags (while the guys in the video are rejoicing about the successful impeachment, saying "we won", the women call them "addicts", I guess you'll figure out R. Paksas' supporters...). Despite the songs and the rest of the circus, the R. Paksas became the first European head of state to be successfully impeached.

R. Paksas supporters©Lina Zigelyte

If it wasn't for today's announcement, I wonder what would have been the outcome of Mr. Ahern's long and winding road. Yet some say he might become the president of the EU. Like the Gorgon Medusa Mr. Ahern might still be alive and kicking.


In the meantime...

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What's new? Toefl failed to send exam results to the university where I'm applying for studies, even though I'd paid for it, will have to send the copy I got. I'm quite stressed, so I picked up a few new activities. Started to make videos and upload them on You Tube. They're in Lithuanian so far, but I promise to make something in English. My Lithuanian blog was nominated in the Lithuanian Blog Awards as the best blog in Society category. In the meantime I'm continuing my project for NCAD. This is part of a minute on O'Connell Bridge. Holgarama.