My Personal Rhapsody / The Fisherman Tomas Terekas
Working in a bar in London brings all kinds of strangers to your life. There comes a fisherman, Tomas Terekas to be exact. “You still haven’t gotten mice out of this bar, have you”, Tomas points to the mouse hiding behind the chair. “You know all too well that I love mice more than anything and will never get rid of them” I replied. He takes out his miniature Jesus statue, rolls a cigarette, orders the same drink, Monkey 47 with Schweppes, extra lime, and tells me a new story each time.
11 April, 2019
illustrations by GODA PELE
Tomas was a fisherman. The fisherman who discovered photography as a means to reflect on society with an ironic, fishy twist. The man who was into the interdisciplinary analysis of fish skull anatomy, and took it seriously. So seriously that he embarked on a project to photograph faces of fish – the Black Goby. Apparently, in some country called Lithuania, these fish were invasive fish. Tomas called them the Little Goby. He carefully analyzed each fish before taking their portraits, “It would be all too easy to just take photos of the Little Goby. I took two years off to analyze their skull. In-de-tail”, pronounced Tomas. He thought to represent the Little Goby as a symbol of global migration trends. An invasive fish - which by its name already has a negative connotation - in his project represented migrants from Syria being forced to move to Europe due to war. “All fish have different faces, yet they are so alike, just like other fish, have you noticed that?” pondered Tomas, while showing me photos on his very first digital camera. This was our second encounter.
After being announced as a winner of the National Prize for Photography, Tomas said, “Photography is my therapy. It’s a diary where I disclose my life fully in an absurd and self-ironic manner”. Art critics were scribbling as if they were reporting seeing Jesus for the first time. “Many thanks to my family, the fish who cared to join the project, and the UKM Council (The United Kingdom Mono-photography Council) for your enormous 15 Pound support. This has made a huge impact on the development of the project. I hope you enjoy the fishy odour in the museum”. People were applauding.
30 seconds after receiving the prize, he was smoking in front of the building. A young girl with her hair up like a bird nest was leaning against the wall. Tomas found her nostalgically thoughtful about something. Her hands were fully stuck in her pockets. Tomas asked her if she’d like him to take a photo of her. The girl nodded without saying a word and took a mouse out of her pocket. She put a mouse on her head, right into the bird nest, and smiled to Tomas. “You know, I love mice more than anything in this world. And this poor one was just out there alone. I could not just leave it to its destiny”, whispered the girl. “I understand completely”, said Tomas, took a mouse out of her hair, kissed her in a forehead and gave the girl his own written poetry. This was our first encounter.
Tomas was known as a person who doesn’t say introductory words when he came into our bar. One day he came in with three glass jars containing his photographs and water in it. “The river, have you noticed how river tide changes each season? Each day I pass it by, I see new things in it: the fish, the mold, the current. The current! The Current!” all of a sudden the idea about the river current stroke him. He looked into the void as if he was by the river at that very moment. “It is not the current that I admire, actually. It is the fresh flow of waters that come from the faraway seas and share its knowledge, bring out the past in us – this is what fascinates me about the river. It’s like photography, the river opens up a universe to the past, but you cannot really touch it, the reality of the past is simply too skewed.”
Later, on a casually cloudy day in London, Tomas, a self-taught photographer mixed sardines with a handful of soil, put the mix into his wife’s bidet and was taking photos while listening to “Heaven Or Las Vegas” by Cocteau Twins. Suddenly, his wife came in. “Where the hell did you get this stinky fish, and why are they in my bidet?” screamed his wife rhetorically. “Fish have to be always fresh for the photoshoot. I got them at the Billingsgate Market. Darling, you know I love Duchamp more than anything. You wouldn’t be mad, would you?” calmly reported Tomas. That was the last day they called each other a husband and a wife. After that, he drank his favourite at our bar till early morning. This was our third encounter.
One day Tomas appeared in Kharkov. It was not a spontaneous visit. Tomas loved the purely industrial city, and most importantly Darwin’s street. The only street where you can change an epoch in just 50 meters. He used to just stand there and mesmerize how the horizon hits the tops of the buildings, how different styles blend into one, and you just stand there as a wide angle camera lens embracing everything that is present at that moment. Suddenly, Tomas recognized a famous Lithuanian writer and a composer in one of the balconies of the Darwin street. Tomas took out his camera quickly to take a photo. The writer showed the middle finger and turned around to light his cigarette. In the meantime, to Tomas’ surprise, three women came out to the balcony and joined the writer’s company. One of them had a black eye, another wore nothing but the fishnet tights in holes, and the third took out her breast and was kissing it while looking directly into Tomas’ eyes. He took his final shot and quickly left the situation deeply puzzled. One thing was sure on that day, Tomas will never quit photography.