18 September – 31 December, 2015
Curated by Nicolas Bourriaud
10th KAUNAS BIENNIAL: CONTEMPORARY ART ABOUT THREADS, DISTANCE, HISTORY AND STORIES, COMMUNITIES AND CABBAGE’ STOREHOUSES
Kaunas Biennial, the biggest contemporary art festival in the Baltic States, will start its 10th edition on the 18th of September with the exhibition Threads: Fantasmagoria about Distance, curated by the well-known art theorist and curator Nicolas Bourriaud.
For the celebratory season the organisers of the Biennial chose to focus on the topic of contemporary communication and direct the programme towards provoking live encounters and networking. This year the festival will present over 80 contemporary artists from the world round and will focus on collaborations between visual and sound artists. The programme of the festival will spread out to the main galleries as well as public and industrial spaces.
Following the main concept of the Biennial and emphasizing the topic of new forms of communication, Nicolas Bourriaud and artists will question the relative notion of distance. According to the curator, Threads strives both to approach the form of fantasmagoria and address the way today’s artists include the notion of distance in their works. in a globalized and digitalized world, how does art deal with transportation, real time communication? What is the current shape of the presence/absence dialectics? How do artists present absent realities? Occupying five floors of the famous modernistic Kaunas Central Post Office building, the exhibition will present works by such artists as Liam Gillick (USA), Walead Beshty (UK), Saadane Afif (FR/DE), Roberto Cabot (BR), Pakui Hardware (Neringa Černiauskaitė and Ugniaus Gelguda, LT/USA), Lothar Hempel (DE), Julijonas Urbonas (LT), Katja Novitskova (EE), Arnas Anskaitis (LT), Carsten Höller (SE), Bronė Sofija Gideikaitė (LT), Amalia Ulman (AR/UK/ESP), Katie Paterson (UK), Attila Csorgo (HU), Kelley Walker (USA) and Darius Žiūra (LT).
The Biennial’s partner, Crafts Council (UK), will explore the impact of new technologies on contemporary art by organising an international seminar and curating an exhibition called Sonic Patterns, in which interdisciplinary sound, video and visual art projects will be presented. The installation “Dataflags” by Fabio Lattanzi Antinori (IT), recently seen in the V&A Museum, and James Bulley’s (UK) project „Tactus“, creating experiences of Braille via sound, will engage with the audiences; connections of images and sound will be expected from David Littler (UK), Knyttan (UK) and Alex Mclean’s (UK) live performances as well.
Lewben Art Foundation is offering the unique possibility to explore its outstanding collection in the exhibition Networked Encounters Offline featuring works by Ian Cheng (USA), Gabriele De Santis (IT), Nick Darmstaedter (USA), Mohamed Namou (FR), Deimantas Narkevičius (LT) and Simon Denny (AU), analyzing the forms of post-internet art communication. Opening in the same space — M. Žilinskas Art Gallery — will be a solo exhibition by the laureate of the last biennial Andrius Janušonis (LT), entitled Homage to Kaunas’ Poets.
The organisers of Miniartextil, Arte&Arte, based in Italy, will be presenting Simona Muzzeddu (IT) and photographer Mattia Vacca (IT), who is not only making a special project about the Lithuanian conscription, but will also show his latest project, A Winter’s Tale: a photo report about an archaic community living in the Italian Alps, whose men are away from home for nine months every year. Another photography project in the Biennial is The Birth of Kikimora by Artūras Morozovas (LT). Kikimora is a creature from Slavic mythology which may lure one into a swamp, but it is also the word used to describe the uniform of a sniper. It is a photo story about women who sew camouflages in Kiev for Ukrainian snipers fighting in the East. The meaninglessness of war will also be analyzed in the exhibition and performance The Terrible Love of War by Italian artist Silvia Gaimbrone (IT) in cooperation with the Kaunas Boys and Youth Choir.
During the Biennial, the residency programme Cotemporal Encounters: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Sound, Memory, and Place will occupy historical industrial places, derelict factories, former cabbage storehouses and other architectural spaces, as well as other events. Twelve young artists from all over Europe will work together exploring the city’s social and political past and trying to rediscover it in the ruins of architecture embracing contemporary art. In the former textile factory, the Croatian organisation LAB852 together with famous sound artist Elisabeth Schimana (AT) and her team will implement an ambitious interdisciplinary project called AGORA or an Artistic Assembly. Another key part of the Biennial, based on community art projects, is called Friendly Zone #6. Cabbage Field, curated by Vita Gelūnienė and Ed Carroll. The project focuses on an abandoned and polluted territory 13 000 sq. m. large, where rubbish heaps make waste of architectural heritage — former cabbage storehouses. The curators initiated cleaning actions, talks and discussions with local people, collected their memories and stories in order to change the space and help create a stronger community.
Among the many events and initiatives in the 10th Kaunas Biennial, the advanced educational programme and presentation of the book Contemporary Art Biennial as a Site Specific Event: Local versus Global on the 3rd of October are to be mentioned. The book’s editor Dr. Daiva Citvarienė has invited such international experts as Marieke van Hal (co-founder of the Biennial Foundation and International Biennial Association), Michaela Ott (philosopher), Lewis Biggs (curator, founder and long-lasting developer of the Liverpool Biennial), Eugen Rădescu (co-founder of the Bucharest Biennial, theoretician, curator), Tomasz Wendland (Artistic Director at the Mediations Biennale in Poznan), and Skaidra Trilupaitytė (PhD in Art History), to share their ideas and thoughts on the subject. The book features interviews with Virginija Vitkienė (PhD in Art Criticism, curator, Artistic Director of the Kaunas Biennial) and Nicolas Bourriaud (writer, curator).
According to artistic director of Kaunas Biennial dr. Virginija Vitkienė, “we are creating a network already for two decades, we are connecting artists, curators, ideas, spaces and places and communities. Networks and communication, interaction and cooperation are the main dimensions of Kaunas Biennial where everyone is very welcome”.