Thursday, October 28, 2010

City Without Walls, 2010 Liverpool Biennial, September 18- November 28, 2010

Svai & Paul Stanikas, Allergy for the Sun 
graphite on  paper, sunlight lamps, mixed media installation (installation detail) 2010

Žilvinas Kempinas, Lemniscate, industrial fans, magnetic tape, dimensions variable, 2008

 Laura Garbštienė. Film about an Unknown Artist (2009) 

 Žilvinas Landzbergas. Holy Promises, mixed media, dimensions variable, (installation detail), 2010

If Lithuania resides at the geopolitical nexus between the eastern periphery of the European Union and Belarus, Russia and beyond, then Vilnius is its cosmopolitan epicenter, whose cultural openness and diversity makes it metaphorically a ‘city without walls’. Many artists spent formative time in Vilnius, only to later contribute to artistic developments in other cities, including the Cubist Jacques Lipchitz in Paris, the abstractionist Lasar Segall in São Paulo, and the Fluxus artist George Maciunas and experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas in New York. Although these artists achieved prominence abroad, Vilnius was generative of their artistic ideas.

Like the Lithuanian artists that preceded them, the participants in City Without Walls embody international artistic sensibilities engendered by the Lithuanian capital’s urbanity. Their work is dovetailed by formal heterogeneity, visual poetics, conceptual verve and the myriad themes they address. Laura Garbštiene, for example, presents Film about Unknown Artist (2009). Her film concerns an unknown artist who visits memorial plate dedicated to another unknown artist (artwork by Konstantinas Bogdanas) in the backyard of Vilnius Art Academy; this leads the protagonist to travel to holy places in Lithuania to do penance. S&P Stanikas’s contribution to the exhibition is Allergy to the Sun (Hannelore Kohl) (2010), a site-specific work that encompasses video and large-scale drawings whose foci revolve around the suicide of the photophobic wife of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Also working in installation, but with different formal strategies and narratives, is Žilvinas Landzbergas’s Holy Promises (2010). Landzbergas’s installation incorporates lightboxes and illuminated festoons, a simulated open fire, and tree trunks. Rounding out City Without Walls is Žilvinas Kempinas’s Lemniscate (2008), a large-scale kinetic sculpture consisting of two massive industrial fans whose billowing force suspends a strip of magnetic tape in midair.

City Without Walls is curated by Raúl Zamudio and Laura Rutkute with the assistance of Augustina Matuseviciute, and organised by VARTAI gallery, Vilnius.

Link to catalog, PDF format

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