Interviewed by Angė Sadauskaitė

Photos by pamirš

Translated by Eimantas Budrys

Urban exploration is a winged term, which is often flying around the public space, but hasn’t been caught by many. Sometimes wrongly compared to vandalism, this movement draws attention of the curious and, of course, the brave environment explorers. One of them is Dimitrij – founder of pamirš

Tell us about Pamirš What is this idea all about and how did it became your duty, of which results (photos and discoveries) you share with others? Is pamirš legal ?

Pamirš – urban exploration project, started in 2011, which I more and more see as a platform for self-realization. It was inspired by “Miesto vitrinos” – one of the first projects related to urban exploration and at the same time the one that fascinated me the most to start seeing the peculiar beauty of abandoned places. Because of this, the name (pamirš is more related to classic “Urban decay” project. Who knows if a roof of an apartment could be called forgotten in a classic meaning of this word.

At the time we created this project a term “Urban exploration” was unknown and hasn’t been used in our country. We found this term, we found how to call ourselves, and how to call the thing that we were doing only after a long work done on this project through contacts with foreign countries. Then we took over the main movement ideology and methods, although, of course, we put some of our flavour too.

The point of this project – urban environment exploration and cognition, often ignoring the public safety and property standards. In other words, counter-culture, attempt to see the city alternatively, not only from the functional side, like often most of citizens do. Abandoned places, dungeons, high rooftops, antennas – our everyday life. Lifestyle, balancing on the boundaries of legality.


The community is a closed group : you don’t invite people to join your outings, you don’t plan expeditions, often you don’t even specify the location address. What factors determine these choices?

From one point of view – safety. We don’t want to welcome unreliable people. On the other hand – easy misanthropy: I do not feel the need to expand the circle of acquaintances. Each new person is an investment for me, that is why I try to choose the people that are interesting and have common topic with me. However, at the one time I felt that the UE (here and after: urban exploration) culture in Lithuania needs to gain momentum. Then, with the help of LUNI I organized the unusual urban trips around Vilnius and not only – I wanted to show others what I and my friends see on a daily basis. It is hard to say what kind of success it was, but at one time we gathered 250-300 people to discover “Unusual night Vilnius”. With them we travelled around dungeons, rooftops and deserted places, remembering their stories.

However, the discovery of new objects should be quite a tricky thing. Do you carefully study the maps and information about the environment or the new places travels by word of mouth? How do you find the way on almost all of Vilnius and foreign roofs?

Some things you find while exploring the map, something by word of mouth and some details you find on the internet . Each case, especially abroad, is individual and depends on the circumstances. Sometimes I have luck and I find people on the internet, who can advise on the objects, and sometimes nobody replies and everything has to be organised by my own hands.

In foreign countries, without help of the locals, it all depends on improvisation and success. One of these trips was in December, when I Abkhazia.

You need improvisation to get on rooftops. Sometimes they are unsecured and unlocked and sometimes – you can get though with some talking skills, and sometimes it happens to have the preparation and use of climbing equipment, taking into account, such factors, as supervising staff or building security. The skyscraper of Europe, I would say, was the best example of such inputs – fastening a rope from the last floor balcony, we got to the top with climbing equipment, hanging about 33 feet high. I declare, for me, scared of height, it was a little bit scary. But the view we saw was worth it.

Panemunės dvaras

What is the most memorable adventure?

Every day – a new adventure, regardless of whether or not you are going to a new object, or sitting, looking at the photos at home. It is important to discover something new everyday – sometimes even virtually, sometimes in a book or a map – a historical fact, a potential place of inspection, or maybe even an abstract idea. Never stop exploring – has said one of well-known brand’s athlete. And his words suits UE very damn good – on a daily basis it is important to try to learn something new.

I have found my way through the boarded up door boards a few times by myself, behind which you find puppet heads, old books, photos, in churches – crosses, that suffered substantial damage, broken glass. Shiver hits my body: the walk-through and generally abandoned buildings often remind of a horror movie scenes. What emotions do you get, while being in the abandoned building ? What is worse : alive or dead public order inspectors ?

The worst – to sit at home and indulge in routine, confined to the family, children and other “fair and serious human” attributes. I couldn’t live this type of life – I would probably get out of mind after a week, if not faster. Compared with this, running from security staff and overhanging the rope is only a small detail, which can be overcome with effort. True, scary places sometimes also occur. Sometimes the macabre atmosphere of the building makes you flinch, sometimes – a security guard or some unexpected sounds of somebody walking. Usually I fully relax only retreated outside the area and feel that I will never want to go back there again.

Apleista ligoninė, Vilnius

You share high-quality, detailed plots of your trips. Photos, however, capture not only the adventures, but also objects, which will probably soon disappear. What is your point of view about the disappearing architecture: do you understand it as the natural course of events, or as a certain negligence?

Any urbanized environment must change and adapt to modern realities. That is how the world works and this itself is neither good or bad. For this reason, changes in architecture is inevitable, and such processes take place everywhere. The only difference is the position from which you look at it. And you can see in different ways – as a natural step – tide or low tide, winter and summer change or like an endless self-accusation and flogging. We are, unfortunately, dominated by exaggerated flagellation and neuroticism. Distrust in ourselves, I think.

I look into decay of cities less complicated – as a monumental symbol of changes in society that exists between concern and indifference. From one view, I don’t feel glad when I see abandoned architecture, waning of vandalism and humidity, from another view – a restored and public-accessible place immediately loses a large part of its charm and beauty. In short, I do not want to put on a “cultural heritage protector” mask, which is now very fashionable. Maybe, that is why I get the criticism of cultural heritage enthusiasts.

Your activity has been going on since 2011. You have seen a lot of damaged and forgotten heritage. So what makes heritage a heritage? Where is the limit, when the architectural object becomes a heritage?

Everyone has to decide individually, although the official status is set by bureaucrats and the commission. I do not want to say that they are useless, but simply, the official lists go beyond my competence. In fact, everything depends on the person – everyone has places, that are close and dear to him, of which preservation has crucial importance. I, personally, really like the abandoned religious buildings – especially in the Vilnius Old Town, where you can find a number of them. And I would be sorry, if one day all of them disappeared.

Panemunės dvaras

Paskelbta: December 30, 2017

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