Sense of it All?
Day 1, Vilnius Palanga
The end of the season seems negotiable here. Ieva and some other citizens
persuade the bus driver to keep the summer schedule. Dagmar and me are
the first to join Anders at Dailė. We are stoned by the XÔ
plates in our room, etc. We keep sighing: Wow! We rush to see the sea.
And we are stoned again. Me by the horizon, Dagmar by the quality of
the sand, I guess. We lunch with Dalia, a lady who laughs when you ask
if shes the national prize winner. In the evening we meet the
rest of the group. Total blind date!
Day 2, Palanga
After the Dailė-tour it becomes clear that we are to spend our
days in a decaying once-upon-a-time-states-care-for-the-Artist
monument. Nevertheless, we are grateful when a pile of extra blankets
appears discretely on the corridor.
I guess every country has a modernist (or two) who spent most of his
life in Paris and later on donated all the works to the homeland to
become infinite. I guess every country also has some generation-specific
thinkers, philosophers who didnt write and thus became a myth.
And in the Antanas Mončys Museum I get hooked on the Justinas
Mikutis (life) stories as interpreted by Arūnas.
In the afternoon the BBC World News joins the symposium. Åse says
she feels safe up here in Palanga but right now Id rather be at
Day 3, Palanga
Rain. At one point we find ourselves exhausted by the BBC brainwash.
Somebody gathers enough strenght to switch off the TV. In this historical
vacuum we start talking about our work. As if this is the only sensible
thing to do at the moment
We talk about our past projects and
current beliefs. Also how this is connected with our everyday-life routine
(survival). Everyone is so attentive and curious. I tell two stories:
first on the travesty-fundraising piece based on criminalistics;
and second on the hundred golden toothpics.
Day 4, Palanga
First Dagmar feels like beeing in a Thomas Manns novel but later
on pronounces Dailė a sanatorium. Now what? Escape? Story-hunting?
I rent a bike and head for north. I pass Šventoji and cross the
Latvian border. I stop in the first settlement by the sea. Very lonely
place. I notice wooden houses full of colorful recycled decoration:
plastic bottle-tops, helmets, traffic signs, etc. An old toothless couple
and a barking dog live there and they allow me to walk around. I take
a few pictures and admire the place. Ah, this is how I want to live
when I grow old! On the way back, close to Palanga, I notice a beach
sign: WOMEN-ONLY. Strange, havent I seen something similar before?
Day 5, Palanga
I get my film developed and examine the photos and there
he was! A MAN-ONLY beach sign nailed on the façade of the toothless
couples house in Latvian Nida. I have a story! Seaside romance
At night Farhad starts the discussion on the definition of art. The
fact that we have been drinking a lot doesnt make the question
less significant. What is art? Apart from claiming that art is defined
by the context, by the art system, we are unable to provide any other
Day 6, Palanga
I walk to the WOMAN-ONLY sign again. I decide to simply nail a photo
of the house with the MAN-ONLY sign there.
While in Vilnius people are watching Pina Bausch we in Palanga take
over the Dailės kitchen. Andrea and Juha cook. We are honoured
by the presence of the two masters who made the beautiful relief on
the back wall of the dining room. It also turns out that some will have
the privilege of comparing the romance in real time&space with the
Day 7, Palanga
A day off. Indeed Thomas Mann was close enough!
Day 8, Palanga
The time runs slow today. Five more days to go. »I want to go
home« is a common expression. We dine with the associations
officials. Expectation is in the air. I realize that we have been handed
over the responsibility to deliver the results. I think how artists
are perceived (and percieve themselves) as hens laying golden eggs.
Whatever we say, touch or make will be so easily acknowledged as art.
Do I have the right to fail? Uncertainty and contingency rule the world.
So far I know I have only been able to lay a golden egg
three or four times in my life. I cant bluff myself and theres
no need to bluff the rest of the world either.
Day 9, Palanga
A trip dedicated to religion. What the hell?
Day 10, Palanga
I isolate myself from the colleagues, alcohol and food in order to execute
my plan. I dont feel stupid when I have to walk for 40 minutes
to get back there; I dont feel stupid when I start nailing the
photo and the hammer echoes all over the forest there; I dont
feel stupid when a local woman passes by and I try to explain in a mixture
of Slavic languages what she is looking at ... but I feel stupid when
I take a picture of what I have just done! Namely everything
(our discussions, thoughts, beliefs in art) became so meaningful in
Palanga. I remembered the discussion on the definition of art. Most
people agreed that it is impossible to provide one. So if I dont
know what art is, why the hell am I taking picture of a private gesture
on a public place? Maybe this is only a sentimental act and has very
little to do with art? But if I provide the photo (=evidence!) to Birute
this will be a very pretencious act stating that this, in fact, is art.
Uh. I dont know what to do.
On the way back I accidentaly pass by the Gedeminas performance
on the beach. My colleagues have joined him. I step in the line too
and gaze at the horizon. Everything fits into its place. The men are
silent, the girls chat. I know that at the same time Aija and her daughter
sit in the dune somewhere and keep drawing the sunset.
Day 11, Palanga
Most of the time we seem so pleased with being here and spending (wasting?)
time together. How come that such slow days bring such intense experience?
(As Birute has already predicted: Seaside affair changes common
time count for a while.) Since this is the first symposium I have
ever attended, Orūne warns me that I shall not expect the others
to be alike.
Per and Arni join us in the evening and after the artist-ran-space-slide-show
we fall into an endless loop of talk about the art system. Welcome to
the real world!
Day 12, Palanga
The day of the opening. We have delivered the works after all. I am
not able to provide the evidence on my act though. I would be contradicting
myself. Birute is patient: You are giving me a lesson now.
I realize this is what it is for me, too a simple lesson on the
role of documents in our work.
The evening is dedicated to the celebration of our accomplishment which
at the same time feels like mourning over its end. Even Antanas Mončys,
the modernist, was totally stirred up! At one late point Arūnas
recites Mandelštam to me. Later on I share this with Åse.
She is indignant: He did it to you, too?
Day 13, Palanga
The good times are over, says Farhad. Back to normality, says BBC!