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Date: 16 September 2017 00:00 - 18 November 2017 00:00


Picture Gallery, K. Donelaičio St. 16, Kaunas


Kaunas biennial exhibitions "Coming or going", "What are monuments made of" and Sophie Calle exhibition.

Coming or Going was the title of an installation by Gediminas Urbonas in which the heads of the Green Bridge statues in Vilnius were encased in mirror cubes. In 1995, a worker with his hand up in the air and a farmer girl carrying a wheat sheaf were transformed from an ideological decorative element into a conceptual object reflecting not only the city, but also its state of mind. Always controversial, the sculptures were taken down in 2015, but their journey is not over yet. A question raised by an artist 20 years ago is still relevant today. This exhibition is the missing question mark at the end of the rhetorical question, coming or going?

The exhibition "Coming or Going" showcases a selection of projects, performances, actions, films and objects that critically assess the function and form of a monument as well as its relationship to ideology, space and the human body. The monument here is not the goal, but rather a contemporary medium of communication, a tool for the (de)construction of memory politics. 

The majority of works in the exhibition were made after 1990 when Lithuania regained its independence and the Soviet idols started to fall and a new stage of the monumentalizing of public spaces began. National idealism replaced Socialist Realism, although the general concept of the monument remained unchanged. New monument-makers unashamedly followed the same monumental rhetoric of an earlier age. Space-commanding elevated heroes made from ever-lasting materials were favoured by the politicians and patriots, while site-specific, horizontal, invisible and questioning monuments were hardly accepted. Therefore, this exhibition does not include the results of official monument competitions and their (un)realised projects as well as other signs of commemoration present in today’s public spaces.

Artists: Audrius Ambrasas, Kostas Bogdanas, Coolturistės, Kristina Inčiūraitė, group "Iš reikalo" (Jurga Jasinskaitė, Marta Vosyliutė), Vytenis Jakas, Audrius Janušonis, Sandra Kazlauskaitė, Juozas Laivys, Dainius Liškevičius, Deimantas Narkevičius, Valdas Navasaitis & Marius Ivaškevičius, Ernestas Parulskis & Liudas Parulskis, Eglė Rakauskaitė, Indrė Šerpytytė, Emilija Škarnulytė, Gediminas Urbonas, Gintaras Zinkevičius, artist unwilling to be named, and others.


"What are monuments made of" 

In a post-Soviet, global, and nationalistic era, monuments still constitute a locus for political struggle while, at the same time, their social and cultural importance is diminishing. The material and mythological presence of monuments has become an integral part of the urban landscape, but also a presence whose influence has been substantially reduced. With the collapse of the Communist Bloc and the emergence of new nationalism, struggles have intensified over the appearance of public spaces. In the present times, a new relationship has been created between artists and monuments which have become the raw material for contemporary engagement with history, memory, and myth, as well as an examination of their materiality, form, and experience. This international collection of videos presents works from the past decade and a wide range of gestures in contrast with the waning of monumental grandiosity in the beginning of the twenty-first century.

The point of departure for this exhibition is the inevitable presence of monuments already planted in the personal and the everyday, in the spatial experience, and in the field of vision imprinted by them. The monuments are always already there – timeworn, foreign, casting shadows, mute in the face of reality. In this respect, thinking today about the materiality of monuments demands first and foremost an investigation of ourselves as a social and political material, of the becoming-citizen in front and through them, and by means of the changes to their perception as sublime, permanent, and durable objects.

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Institute for Public Presence – The Center for Digital Art, Holon.

Curator Udi Edelman

Artists: Yochai Avrahami, Mark Clare, Declan Clarke, Ruben Woodin Dechamps and Oscar Hudson, Effi and Amir, Karolina Freino, Plattform Geschichtspolitik (Eduard Freudmann, Chris Gangl, Tatiana Kai-Browne), Christian Jankowski, Uri Katzenstein, Tali Keren and Alex Strada, Kristina Norman, Kamila Szejnoch, Julia Turbahn and Tal Alperstein, and Artur Żmijewski.


In Sophie Calle’s Detachment series (1996) each piece is constructed of three elements: a photograph of the place in East Berlin from which a monument has been removed, a textual record of people’s memory of the monument, and an archive photograph of the monument itself. The complex and poignant message of this work comes from the point where these three elements intersect.  Perhaps the most important are the memories – they do not only take the place of the monuments, they fill it with very personal, often opposing, meaning. Personal and particular to locations as they are, the comments of Berliners are also universal – they could be ours just as well. Between the reality of the absence and the concreteness of the past these memories live their own independent, sometimes improbable life.


Curator Paulina Pukytė

Exhibitions work: 16 09 2017–30 11 2017

More information:  https://bienale.lt/2017/en/