Anna Reich Presents “No One Asked Us” Collective memory, identity, and landscape in Lithuania

“No One Asked Us” is a collection of Anna Reich photographs considering collective memory, identity, and landscape in Lithuania. These images document the generational effects of war, occupations, and human rights infringements on various communities across the country. The work presents details of the ways in which the people and landscape have been shaped and reshaped, the way cultural symbolism and significance has been assigned, stripped, and applied anew, and the effects of prolonged change on identity and the human condition. The various generations of people included in this work are the heart of this project. They represent a population that has consistently faced dramatic, and often traumatic, social, political, and cultural changes that altered the most essential aspects of their daily life. Even today in a free republic, the people of Lithuania continue to live among ever-present physical reminders of a very difficult past. 

About Anna Reich 

Anna  Reich was born in Woodland, a farming community in Northern California. In her artistic practice, which combines photography, video, and performance, she consistently challenges herself to make work that engages with the idea of access. Her work focuses on individual identity and the various forces that construct and alter it. In previous projects she worked with migrant workers in California, Icelandic fisherman, and U.S. Military personnel. Reich began working with newly enlisted military personnel in 2008 on Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, a 4-year project that followed them through enlistment, deployment, and post deployment. The experience of making this work inspired her to volunteer at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in Boston and Chicago, specifically at the Psycho-social Recreation and Rehabilitation Centers, where she spent 18 months (20+ hrs/week) teaching coping strategies and re-assimilation skills to veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries, and combat related psychological disorders.

This volunteer work assisted in her scholarly research in Lithuania during a Fulbright Research Grant 2013-2014. Reich’s work with victims of the Nazi and Soviet Occupations that developed during her Fulbright Research Grant inspired a subsequent project with a focus narrowed to Lithuanian veterans from the Soviet war in Afghanistan, which was funded by an Artist as Activist Travel/Research Grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. The resulting photographic project examines the lives of Lithuanian Veterans during the Soviet War in Afghanistan from 1979-1989 and through their reassimilation into Lithuanian society. This work is the culmination of 8 years of ongoing investigation into the psychological toll of war and trauma and a rarely seen perspective of life 20 years after combat experience. For three months, Reich interacted with 22 veterans in their homes and throughout their daily routines to create images that provide an intimate and unvarnished portrayal of their reality. Reich’s collaborator, The Lithuanian Association of Veterans of the Afghanistan War, is unique in its willingness and desire to research – and participate in research about – combat related stress, and promote awareness of PTSD – a subject historically taboo in post-Soviet societies. The book generated by this investigation, which features transcripts of interviews with each veteran, addresses the often overlooked lasting realities of war, opens a dialogue about coping with PTSD, and increases awareness of the psychological effects of war violence and trauma. The book provides insight into the experiences of not only the Lithuanian veterans from the Soviet war in Afghanistan, but also veterans from all countries formerly occupied by the Soviet Union who face the same struggles and challenges. 

Reich completed her Bachelor’s of Art at University of California at Davis and her Master’s of Fine Art at the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College. She has received grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Art, the U.S. Fulbright Program, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Reich is currently an Assistant Professor at Augustana University. Her photography can be seen at www.annareich.com.