Denis Vejas (1986 Lithuania) is a Vilnius-based documentary photographer, and visual storyteller.
Big part of my work has been done in nomadic settings, living the experiences that the road brings.
As a photographer and a traveler, I always felt attracted by the things happening on the peripheries of the global world, focusing on the social outskirts and the spaces that are commonly marginalized.
The Direction North is my long-term project, documenting the journey of undocumented migrants from Central America on their way through Mexico to the US.
There are no accurate numbers of people who enter Mexico illegally, however, it is estimated by civil rights organizations that the number might be up to 400 thousand a year.
Most of them are trying to escape violence in their homelands, and hoping to start a new life in the USA. The journey may take up to three months and holds risks of various kinds for undocumented migrants. Along the way, many of these men, women, and children are facing assaults, robbery, and abduction, as almost a half million undocumented individuals a year makes an easy target for organized crime groups, controlling the routes.
While working on these series, I have been riding cargo trains, spending nights in the train stations, volunteering in the refugee’s shelters, and finally documenting part of the wall in Tijuana, which poses a certain kind
of symbolism at the end of the road.
I wanted to capture the st
Photography series Fearless Youth is based on the eponymous, unpublished autobiography of my grandfather Hasan (1928–2011) in which he recalls, among other things, his experiences in World War II. His upbringing in a Muslim village in Bosnia and Herzegovina was abruptly interrupted when he,
following in the footsteps of his older brothers, joined the Ustashe army in which he served from 1943 to 1945. Following my grandfather’s descriptions, maps and routes and by using his book as a compass, I travelled 1800 km through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia to visit the
places he describes, burdened by history and marked by traumatic events. Through the act of photography, they became personal monuments of our relationship, a meeting point of the past and the present.
Like an unwanted family heirloom, the past is passed down from generation to generation, we are born into it and we carry it even if we never witnessed it. Using archival material along with the landscapes and self-portraits I am weaving a map of intertwined personal and collective history to establish a
dialogue with my late grandfather’s past, a past that is inevitably mine.
Materials: Photographs mounted in wooden frames, video installation in a loop shown on a tablet
Dimensions: Various dimensions 40x46cm (5 pieces), 50x70cm (3 pieces), 170x210cm (1 piece), video installation (20x25cm)