Umělec magazine 2002/4 >> Road trip Lithuania List of all editions.
Road trip Lithuania
Umělec magazine
Year 2002, 4
6,50 EUR
Send the printed edition:
Order subscription

Road trip Lithuania

Umělec magazine 2002/4

01.04.2002

Arunase Gudaitas | Lithuania | en cs

Aš menininkas — Aš save myliu

Vincent van Gogh in one letter to his brother described a café as a place where one could easily go insane. The café in the Center for Contemporary Art (CAC) in Vilnius is such a place. Insider connoisseurs of the local scene consider it “very bohemian” and, indeed, in contrast to traditionally lackluster and overpriced eateries in museums, the atmosphere in the CAC comes across as authentic. A “mixzone” between outside reality and what we have come to understand as the world of art permeates the place. A sign written in two languages illuminated with white letters on two black boards: “Aš menininkas — I am an artist, Aš save myliu — I love myself.” A self-confident declaration or a sentimental admission? The result of a few too many glasses of the excellent Lithuanian beer Švyturis? Perhaps a warning for the ego-centric, or a mere artistic decoration for the café?
It may seem odd, but CAC management plan to eliminate (reduce) the existential dimensions of the café. They wish to turn it into a peaceful and quiet place where tired museum visitors can rest up and intellectualize about this and that. Where curators of the center can invite foreign guests without risk of being offended.
This is the reality of Lithuania today. The country is in the process of completely reconstructing itself to regain sovereignty after the fall of the iron curtain. Those who knew Lithuania some ten years ago gape at the remarkable transformation. The large historical UNESCO-protected heart of Vilnius has shed its former dullness and decay. The city parterre is now so dense with restaurants and designer shops that even westerners are surprised. One main street was rechristened by
locals “Shoe Street,” indicating the nature of the shopping to be found there. And all the city hawkers have been shunted beyond the borders of the city center, the only exception being the stalls selling traditional souvenirs and amber jewelry. A dictatorship of cleanliness is the rule of law. A cleanness that has become a part of the new national, anti-Soviet identity.

Under the Lithuanian flag

Speaking of identity, it should be mentioned that Lithuanian artists use national symbols suspiciously often. And the Lithuanian flag — three horizontal stripes of yellow, green and red — is used most often. The history of the flag is a relatively short one. It was designed in 1918 in a public contest, and the colors have no historical connotations; the meaning is purely symbolic: the yellow represents the sun, the green is the land and the red is the fight. Aesthetically, these colors are less than harmonious. Artist Aurélia Maknyté interviewed citizens and asked them which color was their favorite and why. She recorded the answers, edited them into a video, and came up with a statistical record. The outcome of the questionnaire was not a graph, but a new flag, the thickness of each stripe referring to the percentage of its popularity.
The most direct expression of the theme of national symbols can be seen in the work of Arunas Gudaitis, whose cartoonish drawings test the capacity of their meanings. Guaditis has a keen sense of observation and the ability to extract a maximum amount of substance from a minimum source. For example, his drawings of the flip side of Lithuanian coins depicts two variations on the national emblem of a rider on a horse. The tail of the horse juts upwards in one variation and downwards in the other. Quick alternation gives the impression that the rider is galloping forward.
Basketball, Lithuanian’s most popular sport, could be also considered a national symbol. The feeling of euphoria after a victory, something usually reserved for sportsmen, was borrowed by Mindaugas Ratavitchius for one video in which he filmed himself holding aloft a cup won in a world championship by the national women’s team. A different point of view is expressed in the work of A. Maknyté. She collected photos of professional and homemade basketball hoops from rough countryside playgrounds. Different but also topical is Evaldas Jansas’ documentary video Body & Soul. The work is an attempt to work out the interconnecting relations between the body and soul, as well as their possible attitudes towards the world. Romantic crassness flung to the very edge of tolerability is fully expressed in the video Why dogs can do it anywhere and me not, which depicts the life of an artist in Paris living in a flat without a toilet. Sometimes it’s more difficult to defend one’s own human existence than that of an
entire nation.

Social Organism

A must see for any foreigner interested in contemporary Lithuanian art is the market Gariunai, located about four kilometers from Vilnius. All guides claim that it’s the largest marketplace in the world. In addition, we are advised to visit only under the special guidance of someone acquainted with the local situation. One goes east for an adventure! But here we need to make a small digression, or rather a detour. A few kilometers from Vilnius, in the opposite direction from Gariunai, hovers the geographical center of Europe. Its demarcation is based on the measurement of the French Geographical Institute. Lithuanians are well aware of the difficulty to determine the exact mythical center of Europe; yet these exact geographical games are an important part of the national identity and travel industry. The same can be said of the surrounding countries. But let’s return to the marketplace of Gariunai.
The architecture of this megalopolis of stalls is not much different from that of other similar places in neighboring countries. The golden age of Gariunai has probably passed. It belongs more to the 1990s than to the perspectives of the new century. The recession currently afflicting the Russian economy has affected sales of used western cars. “Car desovietizition” in Lithuania was, with a few exceptions, accomplished. The transformation of the Russian economy has also reduced local demand. The phenomenon of Gariunai became a theme for many local artists. Eglé Rakauskaité, for instance, spent an entire day filming one of the marketplace alleyways: the stall owners arriving in the morning, the unloading of the goods, the first customers, peak time and then close down. A viewer reared on TV documentaries will miss the story in this time-collecting film. Subconsciously he longs to see the details of the faces of the sellers and buyers, hear their opinions and complaints about life and their lot in it. But he gets nothing of the sort. Its emotional distance forces us to watch the marketplace as a social organism. A slightly different approach is taken by M. Ratavičius, who has made a cycle of large-format prints in which views of the stalls in the Gariunai marketplace alternate with photos of giant multinational hypermarkets. A transparent concept. A global cliché, so to speak. In the context of today’s Lithuania traditional understanding of these types of works fails to satisfy. The question at hand is whether Lithuanians regret the fading of traditional structures and fear new incoming global structures.

Airing out the room

Lithuanians always air their rooms. Even when the days are cold. They open their windows every time they enter the room. A foreigner may presume a deeper symbolic meaning. The musty odor of the past blows away and new, fresh air comes in. Only time will show to what extent this will be successful. Meanwhile, the cold rooms are an ideal place to sit and ponder Nordic mentality.





01.04.2002

Comments

There are currently no comments.

Add new comment

Recommended articles

Magda Tóthová Magda Tóthová
Borrowing heavily from fairy tales, fables and science fiction, the art of Magda Tóthová revolves around modern utopias and social models and their failures. Her works address personal and social issues, both the private and the political. The stylistic device of personification is central to the social criticism emblematic of her work and to the negotiation of concepts used to construct norms.…
African Vampires in the Age of Globalisation African Vampires in the Age of Globalisation
"In Cameroon, rumours abound of zombie-labourers toiling on invisible plantations in an obscure night-time economy."
Terminator vs. Avatar: Notes on Accelerationism Terminator vs. Avatar: Notes on Accelerationism
Why political intellectuals, do you incline towards the proletariat? In commiseration for what? I realize that a proletarian would hate you, you have no hatred because you are bourgeois, privileged, smooth-skinned types, but also because you dare not say that the only important thing there is to say, that one can enjoy swallowing the shit of capital, its materials, its metal bars, its polystyrene…
My Career in Poetry or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Institution My Career in Poetry or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Institution
An American poet was invited to the White House in order to read his controversial plagiarized poetry. All tricked out and ready to do it his way, he comes to the “scandalous” realization that nothing bothers anyone anymore, and instead of banging your head against the wall it is better to build you own walls or at least little fences.
ArtLeaks
27.07.2014 19:39
Where to go next?
out - archeology
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
Josef Jindrák
Who is S.d.Ch? A person of many interests, active in various fields—literature, theater—known for his comics and collages in the art field. A poet and playwright foremost. A loner by nature and determination, his work doesn’t meet the current trends. He always puts forth personal enunciation, although its inner structure can get very complicated. It’s pleasant that he is a normal person and a…
Read more...
out - poetry
THC Review and the Condemned Past
THC Review and the Condemned Past
Ivan Mečl
We are the fifth global party! Pítr Dragota and Viki Shock, Fragmenty geniality / Fragments of Charisma, May and June 1997. When Viki came to visit, it was only to show me some drawings and collages. It was only as an afterthought that he showed me the Czech samizdat publication from the late 1990s, THC Review. When he saw how it fascinated me, he panicked and insisted that THAT creation is…
Read more...
prize
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
Read more...
birthing pains
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Zuzana Štefková
Expanding the definition of “mother” is also a space for reducing pressure and for potential liberation.1 Carol Stabile The year was 2003, and in the deep forests of Lapák in the Kladno area, a woman in the later phase of pregnancy stopped along the path. As part of the “Artists in the Woods” exhibit, passers-by could catch a glimpse of her round belly, which she exposed especially for them in…
Read more...
Books, video, editions and artworks that might interest you Go to e-shop
21.5 x 28 cm, Pencil Drawing
More info...
216 EUR
21 x 30 x 1 cm / offset quadri et bichro / 68 pages / 666 ex
More info...
15 EUR
From series of rare photographs never released before year 2012. Signed and numbered Edition. Photography on 1cm high white...
More info...
220 EUR
More info...
10,06 EUR

Studio

Divus and its services

Studio Divus designs and develops your ideas for projects, presentations or entire PR packages using all sorts of visual means and media. We offer our clients complete solutions as well as all the individual steps along the way. In our work we bring together the most up-to-date and classic technologies, enabling us to produce a wide range of products. But we do more than just prints and digital projects, ad materials, posters, catalogues, books, the production of screen and space presentations in interiors or exteriors, digital work and image publication on the internet; we also produce digital films—including the editing, sound and 3-D effects—and we use this technology for web pages and for company presentations. We specialize in ...
 

Citation of the day. Publisher is not liable for any mental and physical states which may arise after reading the quote.

Enlightenment is always late.
CONTACTS AND VISITOR INFORMATION The entire editorial staff contacts

DIVUS NOVA PERLA
Kyjov 36-37, 407 47 Krásná Lípa
Czech Republic

Gallery, Bookshop and Cafe
open from Wednesday to Sunday
between 11am to 10pm

and on appointment
at shop@divus.cz, +420 606 606 425

 

Divus Perla
Gábina Náhlíková, gabina@divus.cz, +420 604 254 994


Divus Publishing
Ivan Mečl, ivan@divus.cz, +420 602 269 888

 

Design, Pre-Press and Printing Studio Divus
studio@divus.cz

 

Magazine Umělec
Palo Fabuš, umelec@divus.cz

 

Cafe, Bookshop & Library
Hana Turynová, shop@divus.cz, +420 606 606 425

DIVUS LONDON
Arch 8, Resolution Way, Deptford
London SE8 4NT, United Kingdom

news@divus.org.uk, +44 (0) 7526 902 082

 

DIVUS BERLIN
berlin@divus.cz


DIVUS WIEN
wien@divus.cz


DIVUS MEXICO CITY
mexico@divus.cz


DIVUS BARCELONA
barcelona@divus.cz

DIVUS MOSCOW & MINSK
alena@divus.cz

DIVUS NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIPTION
Divus We Are Rising National Gallery For You! Go to Kyjov by Krásná Lípa no.37.