Lithuania-Poland-Russia ENPI Cross-border Co-operation Programme 2007-2013
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Exhibition “The Meeting. Stolen Past”

The art project „The Meeting (Stolen Past)” is on show at Baltic Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts (Russia) in Kaliningrad from 22 th November till 15 th December, 2013
Organizer: Klaipeda Culture Communication Center (Lithuania) and Baltic Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts (Russia)
Curator: Laima Kreivyte (KCCC, Klaipeda, Lithuanian)
Coordinator: Danil Akimov
Financial support of the project: Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Lithuania-Poland-Russia ENPI Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013.

The Meeting (Stolen Past)

“The Meeting (Stolen Past)” is an artistic exploration of utopian Soviet architecture as memory landscape. The modern cityscape has been transformed in three ways: semantic, functional, and personal. The semantic layer means renaming streets and buildings. Functional – changing their functions and architectural structure. Personal changes refer to reinvention of fictional past based on new reality. Films and objects by Kristina Inčiūraitė and Cooltūristės uncover all three layers of hidden past in different locations. Soviet modernist buildings are still haunted by the past, but old myths generate new stories and performances.

Former Museum of Revolution (1980) in Vilnius is perhaps the best example of political, semantic and architectural challenges. In 1993 it has been transformed to the National Gallery of Art (reconstructed in 2009), which has became a meeting place of politicians in July 2013, when Lithuania started the presidency of the Council of the European Union. What is the role of an artist and meaning of the art institution in the context of such transformations? Is National Gallery just a shell or rather a shelter of political establishment? If public space is closed for the public, what becomes of it? Real estate, modern bunker or unidentified flying object (UFO)? Cooltūristės together with Nunu group organized a performance NGA is not UFO in front of the gallery.

Time travel through memory uncovering lost “cosmic” landscape is the main themeof Space Kindergarten (2012) by Cooltūristės. The „Space Kindergarten” was built by an architect Viktor Cholin from Moscow. Its round shapes reminded utopian architecture of unknown civilization or a spaceship design. The kindergarten was used as as a platform for a invented “Moon mission”. It served as a time machine enabling to test different scenarios of past and future and to perform journey through memory.

The space race of the Cold War was not only happening cosmos. It had mirror reflections on Earth. Department stores “Mercury”, “Saturn”, “Comet”, “Rainbow”, trolley-bus stops “Moon”, “Stars”, “Lightning”, “Thunder”, children’s club “Meteor”, Cosmonauts Avenue – all of them marked a residential area on the outskirts of Vilnius. These names were changed after the January 13, 1991. The streets were renamed after the dead heroes. Semantics of the place has shifted from the cosmic landscape to symbolic cemetery. A hidden cemetery of animals appeared in the surrounding wood in recent years, adding different dimension to myths of space and immortality.

Another significant modernist building is the Wedding Palace in Vilnius (built 1974). It is famous for its long staircase. After the wedding ceremony each bride performs a ritual of “descending to Earth”. An early video film by Kristina Inčiūraitė Downstairs (2000) questions the symbolic meaning created by architecture. The artist dressed in bride’s dress descends the staircase of the Wedding Palace four times with four different men, none of them being her husband. More than ten years later Cooltūristės repeats a performance backwards challenging patriarchal ritual with collective spirit of revolution and emancipation of women (Upstairs, 2013).

In a new experimental documentary The Meeting (2012) Kristina Inčiūraitė presents her correspondence with a female resident of the same age from the town of Svetlogorsk, who is seeking new acquaintances on the Internet. The author uses a male name (and her husband’s identity mixed up with her own), and does not disclose to her correspondent that this is part of an art project. Mutations of identity are combined metaphorically with the ambiguous situation of the Svetlogorsk seafront cable car. It is a huge and imposing construction, which is facing destruction from the effects of erosion. The film reveals how the cable car and the associated story of correspondence capture the junction of utopia and dystopia.

Another important issue in the exhibition is questioning the strategies of appropriation by turning them inside out. It is not only appropriation, but also misappropriation, exposure of an error, seizure of publicity by using one’s own weakness – “Miss”. Missappropriation is a female appropriation, the subjection of hard male buildings to soft female materials). Misappropriation as “wrong” appropriation: subjecting architecture to performance, body to photography, photography to sculpture, and vice versa.

One can recognize mis(s)appropriation when Kristina Inčiūraitė chooses not to show women in her videos and present their voices instead – trying not turn them into objects of desiring male gaze. Or in „changing gender” of alegorical statues by Cooltūristės.

Kristina Inčiūraitė and Cooltūristės uncover the links between imagined and real history in their films and performances. The stolen past is returned to the present – to inspire different visions of the future.

Curator Laima Kreivytė

The Lithuania-Poland-Russia European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013 aims at promoting economic and social development on both sides of the EU-Russian border, addressing common challenges and problems, and promoting people to people cooperation. Under the Programme, legal non-profit entities from the Lithuanian and Polish border regions, and the entire Kaliningrad oblast implement joint projects co-financed by the EU and the Russian Federation.

The European Union is made up of 28 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders.

This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union under the Lithuania-Poland-Russia ENPI Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Baltic Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.