Thursday, 29 December 2011

II. (Museums. Lithuania. Žilinskas) Soothingly unchanged.

Part I.

Not all is stale at M. Žilinskas Art Gallery. Here are some highlights:

1.  A display of photographs from Čiurlionis's photo album accumulated during his travels in Caucasus (1905). 
There were some predictable mountainscapes as well as some astonishing portraits from the boat trip. Thoroughly postmodern.

M.K. Čiurlionis photos from Caucasus

M.K. Čiurlionis photos from Caucasus
The only true disappointment is the museum had not published the album as a book (well, an artist book, probably - I’d love to work on it!). What about a limited edition of prints from the original negatives?

2. The last painting by Čiurionis Trikampis. Ratas. Kvadratas  (Triangle. Circle. Square.)
 Apparently, they used to title it “Boats” (yawn-yawn), because it ... well... shows boats on it. I am delighted that the original name had been reinstalled. One should always remember the problem of titles and untitles and the importance of naming things.

The last painting by M.K.Čiurlionis

3.  Deathmasks by Petras Rimša. 
A selection of white heads is set out at the end of a rather large room. They are obviously meant to be a centerpiece. It is a rather crowded display for a room that size (have they  considered of dividing the space). The spotlight is very bright. White masks are arranged of black, like an assortment of ritual masks. Clinical curiosities? Despite an unsuccessful display, I found the presence and the reality of the person (behind the mask) extremely physical: you can see the veins in the neck, the hair stuck in the plaster.

4. Then there are photos by Domicelė Tarabildienė. Photomontages from 1932. 
Simple. Elegant. I had no idea she existed.
She was working in the context of Hartfield, Lissitzky and Rodchenko. I would very much like to research her photography more. To be continued.

Generally - the gallery seems to host a phenomenal amount of artwork in one exposition. Sheer volume is diluting the effect.  Too much stuff to take in. There is enough work and space to assemble a few blockbuster exhibitions.

The visit felt like a trip to the past. Soothingly unchanged. All is quiet in the Eastern front.

I. (Museums. Lithuania. Žilinskas) Soothingly unchanged

Museums in Lithuania never fail to amuse me, surprise me, excite me. Visiting them offers a refreshingly archaic experience. The time flows slower there. The word progress does not have an exclamation mark at the end of it.
Nostalgia lives there.

I had not been to M. Žilinskas Art Gallery (unreadable webpage) in Kaunas for a about 20 years. Until yesterday.

So what had changed in that time, I wondered, as I climbed the stairs (passing the giant sculpture of a naked man which has been causing endless complaints since 1989 from the prudent ladies and gentelmen of Kaunas).

The power of a bare willy! Petras Mazuras managed to produce a sculpture that has be causing discontent among prudent Lithuanians for over 20 years now. No need for Salman Rushdie here.

The answer is - I don’t know what had changed, if anything.

The building is a good example of grandiose Soviet architecture. It still maintains most (if not all) original features, including crouching toilets and a room Nr 428 accessed from the ladies lavatories. I am assuming that the room is the office/storage for the cleaning lady and it is expected that a lady (not a gent) will be cleaning the toilets.

Original toilet from 1989. Most certainly adds to the charm and the atmosphere of the gallery.

There are clear signs ekspozicija, taking you to the exact place where you should be starting. The rooms are minded by a selection of sombre looking old women, who’s watchful eye will prevent you from touching the glass  or  - God forbid! - anything else.

The arrangement of the objects follows a rather mysterious sequence. I am sure they are expertly arranged. (It is not them, it is me) There is also a noticeable lack of information about the artefacts. Most of the vitrines are titled XIXc Europe. Or XIXc Russia, from Xyz collection. Am I that interested in who owned the object previously? Or am I more interested in what the object is?  A lot of paintings are disastrously lit, with frames casting shadows over the work.

How not to light the paintings.

The gallery also hosts a special exhibition Mirábile Visu / Nuostabu matyti for the 90th aniversary of M.K.Čiurlionis museum. Some rooms are filled with artworks that the museum had acquired over specific decades. Result? The rooms look like a cacophonous selection of art with a number of surprisingly modern juxtapositions: a huge classical painting along a selection of round 50's pots and opposite a traditional textile. There is certainly something something in it.

Part II.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Quote: Umberto Eco/book

The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved. (Umberto Eco, p. 4)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

(Exhibitions) Last night I came across my notes from Frieze 2012.

Gerard Byrne
A Fibonacci Progression in 17 stages, commenced in 2001 and concluded i 2011, Loch Ness, Scotland, 2011, 2001-ongoing.
@ Lisson Gallery
non-linear sequentiality

 Marina Abramovic
The Levitation of Saint Teresa, 2010
@ Lisson Gallery
a  captivating video installation. captivating.

 Doug Aitken
@ 303 Gallery, New York
 tiny white line is the writing. grand visual and intimate. promotional christian magazine.

Nicole Wermers
Wasserregal, 2011
@ Herald St.
potential for language

Pierre Huyghe,
@ Frieze Projects
unexpected poetry

Bernardo Ortiz
week 1, week 2, etc.
@Casas Riegner Gallery, Bogota
book de-bound

Mark Manders
Yet Untitled Head, 2011
 @ Zeno X Gallery
materials, me

 Eva Kotatkova, 
Parallel Biography
@ Hunt Kastner, Prague

Friday, 16 December 2011

Umberto Eco? Obviously! I've read it!

She was very excited to see me. She said - “of course you have read  This is not the End of the Book by Umberto Eco and Carriere. Obviously I said “Of course!”.
That very same evening I ordered it. Next day delivery.

Another one of those “of course” moments came at Manchester Book Fair in autumn.
We spoke about formal photography, memory, the loss of it, destroyed photos and destroyed books. Eventually she said “of course you have read Barthes and Baez”. Obviously I said “of course!”. While I have read Barthes long time ago and again recently, I have never heard of Baez. A little research  has pointed me to  A Universal History of the Destruction of Books.
Next day delivery, please.

Since then, I have read the first one, but not the second one. I will read Baez at some point too. Should I cringe at not having read something so obvious?  Yes? No?

There are more books in the world than hours in which to read them. (Umberto Eco, p. 269)

Frustrating. I did not know about the existence of those two books two years ago. They would have been extremely useful.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

SIGNS : ???

The main purpose of signage is communication, to convey information such that its receiver can make cognitive decisions based on the information provided.

I love the graphics of the signs above, but the message is failing to happen (it is not them, it is me). 

(the signs are explained HERE)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

SIGNS : balantly invisible

ONE HOMAGE TO WITTGENSTEIN - University of Cambridge , Casimir Lewy Library of Philosophy and internal courtyard of Raised Faculty Building, Sidgwick Site (originally part of Text&Context)

Guerilla signs on London underground

Amusing, how signs - in their conventional design - melt into the surroundings and become invisible. It takes some effort to spot those. Not unlike the high-vis vest.
And then high-vis clothing pulled off its greatest trick: it disappeared. Signifying no particular profession, it conveys very little information about its wearer beyond “I am working”. Photographers and activists swear by the high-vis vest as a way of avoiding the attention of the police. And criminals don’t just wear them after they’ve been caught: scrap-metal thieves routinely wear the vests to pose as workmen, and the robbers in the 2006 Securitas depot robbery, the biggest cash heist in British history, wore high-vis jackets. It has sunk into the visual background noise of our culture – high-visibility gear is a modern invisibility cloak. (from Icon, October, 2010)