A group exhibition in a video: Portals … or location scouting in Kaunas
We all once lived in Kaunas, a failed modernist city with hope. If you notice a contradiction in this sentence, think of a city or hope as a trope; a porous hyper-object burrowed with social-economic wormholes, a conflicting portal to other chains of contradictions, holes, and hopes.
Let’s start anew. As the invitation to make an exhibition came from the Kaunas International Film Festival it seemed rather natural to ask ourselves what if this group exhibition was presented as filmed material and occupied a chosen symbolic video footage instead of being installed in a typical white cube or a black box set up?
Before continuing, we would like to ask whether you know what ‘location scouting’ in the cinema industry means? ‘Location scouting’ is a vital process in the pre-production stage of filmmaking – once filmmakers have decided what scenery they require, the search for a suitable place or “location” begins.
The location scouting for this exhibition space started in a similar manner. While looking for a potential exhibition space, together and separately, we watched many films, YouTube videos, TV series, visited unused buildings, memories, museums, photos, and texts. The exhibition location was invoked. Participating artists were asked to share the location scouting videos, transforming filmed or other material, which ordinarily stays unused, into their contribution to the exhibition.
Some references, stories, tropes became more memorable, more visible than others. For example, in 1963 the Italian film director and writer Pier Paolo Pasolini visited Israel and Palestine, expecting to find locations for his forthcoming film The Gospel According to Matthew. The locations and people he met rather differed from his expectations, inspiring a documentary titled In Search of Locations for The Gospel According to Matthew and leading Pasolini to film The Gospel in Italy instead. This story reminded to us that Kaunas may be ‘located’ elsewhere, not just in Kaunas. That any city, as a hyper-object, is a portal to many other experiences, places and times, that any object is a portal, that any location may be an event, experience, materialisation of multiple historical, esthetical, physical events; a portal to other locations, to other portals, themes, and people.
After thorough investigation and discussion the idea to use the Memorial to the Victims of Fascism (built between 1966 and 1984, it is a 32 metre high monument that symbolises the people, survivors or the chorus in the sense of an ancient Greek tragedy) as a portal, an initial terminal or a depot to initiate further research seemed to be a rather inspiring although demanding extraordinary respect to the victims and to the history. Those times were as worrying as they are now, writing this in the winter of 2016, though let’s stop there. Or let’s continue using another thought. We must look back to the 20th century respectfully and carefully as it’s not just an old dead anonymous past but also our collective and personal past, as well as one we are witnessing reappear in new historical forms in front of our eyes. The artists’ contributions do not comment on the Monument or historical circumstances – the Monument stands for itself, it does not need our help, on the contrary, it’s us who call for its engagement.
When we say “We all once lived in Kaunas, a failed modernist city with hope” among other things we also mean that most cities as sophisticated organisms, as hyper-objects, have parts that radically failed, went nightmarishly bad, but also have parts that gave and still give grounds for expectations, that still inspire and promise, or that are an unlikely combination of aforementioned events, conditions and a persistent will; a will to shape the past, the present, and the future, although not necessarily in this order.
Editing, monument footage, sound: Jokubas Cizikas
Design: Gaile Pranckunaite
Curator: Valentinas Klimasauskas
Produced by Kaunas International Film Festival. With support from the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania