art 2001/2
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National Features of Self-Respect?

by Erika Grigoravičienë

The exhibition “Self-Respect” curated by the independent Swedish curator Anders Kreuger, held at the Contemporary Art Centre in September 6-November 4th 2001, was retroactively proclaimed a traditional biennial. It aims to cover almost two centuries, though new works freshly brought from studios, photo shops and visual montage studios prevail. In his own words, Anders Kreuger tried to create a coherent narration in images. He divided the space of the Contemporary Art Centre, as is usual in contemporary projects, into thematic sectors (Introduction, Man, Stage, Capital, Life etc.), though all of them are dominated by the same themes and ideas – human experiences, self-consciousness and identity. Anders Kreuger does not belong to any institution. Above all, the curator of “Self-Respect” is independent of the latest history of Lithuanian art and photography, the traditional understanding of the processes of its development and the prevailing stereotypes. The curator finds samples of Lithuanian art interesting as messages testifying not to the achievements of formal emancipation, but to the change of identities, the evolution of society and culture. In the exhibition a great deal of attention is devoted to the so-called Soviet heritage: excerpts from documentary films about the thriving of Soviet Lithuania are shown, and Lithuanian photographs from the 1960’s and 1970’s are displayed. Studies of man and life constitute the major part of the exhibition. The curator aimed to reflect everything from the “post-human” tendencies urgent in the middle of the last decade, to contemporary “new anthropocentrism” and art with life, presented, for example, at this year’s Venice Biennial or last year’s exhibition “Innocent Life” at the Contemporary Art Centre. However, art, though created by adequate means, must tell something more than the mass media, agencies of social research and the documenting of the daily life with amateur cameras. All this aesthetics of an innocent view, innocent touch and the artist’s “death” soon becomes boring, and one begins to long for a more refined expression and more explicit articulation.

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