Director: Deimantas Narkevičius
Born in 1964 in Utena (Lithuania). Artist lives and works in Vilnius.
Selected personal exhibitions:
2009 — The Unanimous Life — Kunsthalle Bern, Bern
2006 — Once in the XX Century, Arnolfini, Bristol
2001 — Lithuanian Pavilion, 49th Venice Biennial, Venice
Selected group exhibitions:
2010 — There’s Always a cup of sea to Sail In, the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial, São Paulo
2004 — Time and Again, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
2003 — Utopia Station, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice
Courtesy of gb agency, Paris; Galerie Jan Mot, Brussels and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin
To commemorate 50-years anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution in 1968 they opened a huge exhibition hall, Art Exhibition Palace in Vilnius. Before 1988 the building was an affiliate of the National Lithuanian Art Museum, and later in 1992 it was reorganized into an independent organization, the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) specializing in international and local exhibitions and different cultural initiatives. Unsurprisingly, the organization policy changed drastically. Public exhibitions intended for a wide audience and presenting official art were replaced by more conceptualized exhibitions and educational projects, that were not easy to absorb.
Deimantas Narkevičius who worked there for several years, describes the specific situation inside the institution as a some kind of utopian project. In terms of author’s etymology, whose Scena is made out of short interviews with CAC employees in its elegant interior of so called Soviet functional modernism, he understands utopia as a voluntary imprisonment of a small community in an isolated space, rather than a radical philosophical project intended for society transformation. Narkevičius presents an architectural space as an unbreakable barrier between intellectual minority and a complex, detached social and political territory of the modern Lithuania, namely, its post-Soviet reality. CAC used an ambitious policy to create its status of a leader that had to finish Lithuania integration into political and cultural reality of Europe. In the unique narration context, sterile, extremely minimalistic architecture being a background for characters’ thoughts, their understand- ing of current situation through their professional experience, is a metaphor of nothingness empowered by possible modifications impulse. Modernists’ special strategy of art presenting in empty spaces with no decoration receives a new politically and socially charged interpretation in Narkevičius’ movie due to its unemotional, sometimes paradoxical language of documentalism and melancholic poetry. Characters’ actions, their motivations lead to integration into modern context as real process subjects, while the process itself is a try to define the current direction of reality modification; its ideological basics are hard to describe. Despite of their quite opposite political and general outlook views, Centre employees have genetic connection with the past they are trying to overcome, and sometimes even deny.
As many other Narkevičius’ movies, Scena is an example of a special intellectual product, that is best defined as “unconventional chronicles”; the author does not care about the past or the future, he examines the present slipping away, by finding timeless state of the collapsed empire. Such historic moments that are the periods seeming insignificant on the global history scale, and called “transitional periods” in professional discourse, become, in fact, the space that through artistic modification reveals true configuration of reality with its cultural and political specifics. Overcoming one’s past is a hurtful process and special social condition filled with uncertainty, disorientation, identifying problems of artist’s point of view, and it gives a chance to revise the past from the aesthetic distance.