Jonava - European Capital of Culture in 2022. Why? 1

Kastytis Rudokas, 2016-02-15
Jonava. Photo from

In brief: If there is a wish to build Bilbao then it should not be built in Vilnius, neither in Kaunas nor Klaipėda. It should be built in Tauragė, Mažeikiai or Alytus. If such show-off fiesta exists - and it sure does and is very lively - it should at least bring benefits to the place where they are needed most. For Jonava!

When Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, I saw some good things in it. Perhaps the greatest social manifestation of this phenomenon were the associative photographs taken by locals, for example, in the Station district, where you could see drunk homeless people rolling around next to the logo of European Capital of Culture. Apparently, that sort of artistic activism inspired Emilis Vėlyvis. The beginning of the second part of his film Zero is taking place right next to the logo of the Capital of Culture. By highlighting it he trolled not only the initiators of this phenomenon, but also the local organizers with a very famous historian in the front.

Meanwhile, the Kaunas residents are preparing for the challenges of 2022 in their earnest. Generally, Kaunas could be defined by this sentence - city, which wantonly and for a long time has been sitting in the shadow of Vilnius, is getting up from its knees and increasingly reminding of its good side. At least in the current process of cultural heritage Kaunas interwar period modernism is the dominant theme, ideologically overshadowing all sorts of such special historical and famous monuments as Baroque, Old Towns and manors. And thanks God.

We live in an interesting period of time, when it is thought that the position of power no longer exists and universal democracy is prevailing in all the parts of life of the individual. It is unlikely that this is true, rather it is an illusion of truth. On the other hand, if you think enough, the position of power did not disappear, but moved to the phenomena and processes that were once regarded as marginal phenomena and processes. Therefore, here, where Kaunas is not suitable (I already imagine how the "world-class level", "international level" and "highest quality" would be achieved), which really cannot offer the exclusivity characteristic to classical discourse, Jonava works well. Kaunas, using the thoughts of Gintaras Beresnevičius, is a cultural phenomenon existing in the margins. It is not a center and neither it is close to the center, but exactly because of the mystical ignorance and unique tradition it is a constantly creating space. Jonava, here, fits in perfectly in the existing power shift and interregnum discourse.

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