Mina Laugalytė
kamane.lt, 2008 12 16



E.Markūnas presented the installation “Will you be the next?” for the selective exhibition of contemporary art festival "Kaunas in Art: Contexts".

One of curators of the selective exhibition K.Džilavjanaitė regretted that artists did not reveal Kaunas context universally enough.

D.Porvaneckaitė and J.Veteikytė placed the dearest gifts of Kaunas and prepared them for sending in the work "Kaunas: Handle with Care".

Several participants of the selective exhibition dedicated works to well-known personalities related with Kaunas. Faces of women of Kaunas textile art circle are pictured in the textile work of A.Janušaitė "Silk Women".

V.Tamoševičiūtė dedicated the work from pieces of newspaper "... here and now..." to the painter P.Griušys, while V.Kirvelienė created “Covers of the City” from cotton.

A.Petrulienė presents fragments of the film "Žiobtai" and its heroes – silicone puppets.

The French artist M.F.Prost-Manillier dedicated the work "Daughter of Jacob and Fanny" to her great-grandmother, Lithuanian Jew.Photos by L.Brundza

In brief: Kaunas gallery Meno Parkas is organising international projects of contemporary art from 2002. Artists of the gallery participated in them the most often, one or another creator from abroad was added to them.

This year a wide international project “Kaunas in Art: Context” of several parts was born from annual exhibitions on various themes.

Independent curators Laima Kreivytė, Arvydas Žalpys (Lithuania), Marina Sorbello (Italy/Germany), Antje Weitzel (Germany), Sepp Hiekisch-Picard (Germany), Krzysztof Stanislawski (Poland) presented works of artists chosen by themselves.

Works of foreign and Lithuanian artists tackle various questions urgent to the entire world using the contemporary art language. Some of them speak about post-soviet heritage, fates of people. Others analyse social and human values themes.

Works are exhibited at Vytautas Magnus University gallery 101, I.Mikuličiūtė’s gallery, Kaunas Various Nations’ Cultural Centre, Artists’ Home, gallery of Textile Artists and Artists Guild Balta, in the galleries of the Architects’ Union, Kaunas Branch and Meno Parkas.

The second part of the contemporary art festival is a selective exhibition. Its curators are art critics Kristina Budrytė, Kotryna Džilavjanaitė and Virginija Vitkienė.

Artists were given the task to present works on several topics. They were offered to create works related with the history of Kaunas art and culture, to represent the personal social and artistic relation with Kaunas, to prepare works that would reflect the vision of known and unknown city, to dedicate them to some celebrity, institution, unnatural processes and phenomenon.

The works of the selective exhibition are exhibited at the Communication History Museum and Sports Museum. Three works of the selective exhibition were presented at the gallery Meno Parkas as well.

One of the exhibition curators K.Džilavjanaitė stated that the terms of the selective exhibition were presented not only to Lithuanian artists but also to partners of Meno Parkas abroad. As a result, 26 works from Lithuania, Germany, Norway, France, Thailand and Brazil were selected.

K.Džilavjanaitė admitted that even though the selection was strict and more than half of works were rejected, they still had to make a compromise. Some weaker works are also presented; however, the curators found it interesting to show the attitude of foreign artists to Kaunas.

After viewing the exhibitions, one may notice that the works of Lithuanian authors comply to the concept much better than works of some foreign creators. However, this may be justified in a way – the majority of foreigners created works without visiting Kaunas beforehand and by getting acquainted with the city on the Internet.

Therefore, the curators notice that the majority of them romanticised our city. This is reflected in the work of Praphan Rakarin from Thailand "Pažaislis Church and Convent". The German Ekkehard Neumann looked at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris, the place of lasting history and changes, poetically.

Ghini Servilha from Brazil painted the portrait of Mykolas Žilinskas as a person who dedicated his life to art and who granted art to Kaunas. A dedication to a great-grandmother, Lithuanian Jew, was created by the French artist Marie-Francoise Prost-Manillier.

Foreign artists could not find information about the life of Kaunas during the latter ten years – the overcrowded shopping centre Akropolis, dying old town and Laisvės Alley, doubtful decisions of authorities, frustration of city inhabitants – on the Internet. These themes prevail in works of Lithuanian authors.

The installation of Eimutis Markūnas from trunks “Will you be the Next?” on the theme of emigration is exhibited in the yard of the Communication History Museum. Donata Porvaneckaitė and Jūratė Veteikytė placed the identity, consciousness, self-evaluation of the city and other dearest gifts of Kaunas into cardboard post boxes in the museum hall. Tomas Pabedinskas captured 7 churches visible from the roof of the shopping centre Akropolis.

Vladas Oržekauskas decided to criticise authorities. He created the work “Kaunas Supporter” by digital print of tilt reflecting how authorities “milk” townspeople for 18 years. His colleague Renata Vinckevičiūtė offers to an officer to dress in a suit from sandpaper in her work "Member of the Council".

The signs of the city history were captured by Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė, who photographed inscriptions left on walls of Šančiai barracks. Greta Grendaitė-Vosylienė immortalised industrial views of Vilijampolė, which may disappear soon. Irina Borodina created the work "In Memoriam: For the Glass Factory of Aleksotas". Tadas Vosylius presents the object "One may also shout in Kaunas" – allusion to the social advertisement “One may also life in Kaunas” offending Kaunas inhabitants. Other artists dedicated works to the tragic situation of art and artists in the city, to particular personalities.

This time the participants of the selective exhibition did not play games of contemporary art synthesis. They presented works of pure genres – objects, photographs, paintings, textile, video works. Auksė Petrulienė was the only to exhibit a work of synthesis of contemporary art. These were fragments from the film "Žiobtai" dedicated to Jurgis Mačiūnas and silicone puppets, heroes of performances included into the film.

K.Džilavjanaitė admitted that even though works of Lithuanian artists corresponded with the concept of the project better, complexes and stereotypes of Kaunas, the problem of identity was not thoroughly revealed either by local artists or foreign creators.

An impression is left after visiting the exhibitions that artists are inclined to romanticise the past of the city, its personalities or they trend to nihilism registering the disappearing originality of the city.

The art critic K.Budrytė agreed that the majority of the exhibition participants looked at Kaunas only by several aspects, through their experience or limited impressions. In her opinion, the works could be more varied and interesting. The curators regretted that the creators did not present any futuristic or utopian ideas or works related with Kaunas and its contexts.

The head of the project "Kaunas in Art: Contexts" and director of the gallery Meno Parkas A.Žalpys stated that they prepared for the event for one year. He hopes that the project will turn into an annual or biannual contemporary art event. It is dreamed to organise a festival of various art fields including musicians, literature people to the project. The most important is to present interesting ideas and to interest the audience in contemporary art events lasting for several months.

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