art 2003/1

Algirdas Bosas. Avilys.
2002, metalas, 190 x 450 x 238

Arūnas Daugėla. Siena.
2002, vitražiniai stiklo blokeliai, lakštinis stiklas, metalas, 326 x 137 x 17

Zones of Contemporary Sculpture

by Laima Kreivytė

In the contemporary world, sculpture decreasingly functions as an aesthetic object and becomes increasingly an intellectual comment on the present situation, time and environment. Its new orientation opens for contemporary sculpture new public domains, like press, radio, television, and the Internet. Features like formal originality stop being important. What matters today, is the way sculpture functions within a definite social-cultural environment. It is also expected to reflect the changing spirit of society and different interests of its representatives.
What is the concept of sculpture upheld by Lithuanian sculptors who target public spaces with their product? To discuss how contemporary Lithuanian sculpture reflects actual social and cultural problems, I shall focus on two projects: the exhibition of the sculptural projects St.Bernardino’s Sculpture Garden (held in March of 2003) and the Sculpture Zone (a site project completed in Kaunas in 2002).
Two projects target different locations. In Kaunas, an industrial site chosen for the project called for relevant aesthetics: industrial materials and technologies, strategies of multiplication, reflection and conversion. Sculptural shapes of works designed for the would-be Sculpture Garden were expected to enter into a dialogue with the natural setting of the present Sereikiškės Park in Vilnius.
Yet the ideas offered for the future sculpture garden looked either archaic (featuring formal experiments almost half a century old) or frozen in time. Most projects failed to reflect the spirit of the place. Too many of them were entirely striped of the dimension of time. I am not contending that linear time is in any way superior to eternity. Yet, it is curious why these artists insist turning a blind eye on the present day and seek shelter in the cult of the glorious past with the ancient dukes and “eternal values”? Very often these ideals are just a pompous shell to conceal the shallowness of thought.
It seems that the capital is over-conscious of its representational function and prevents sculpture from entering public spaces in Vilnius. Even the top political levels seem to enjoy a simplistic concept of how art should epitomize the key ideals of the state.
By contrast, Kaunas is becoming an increasing conducive place for different projects launched in open spaces. The Sculpture Zone is one such example of creative approach to sculpture and environment. Though located next to a highway, most works are not scaled for a “windshield observation”. The works created by different artists manifest different materials and diverse agenda for “sign posting the space”. Thus an abstract and minimalist piece by Gediminas Akstinas exploits space rather than form and unlimited possibilities of its conceptualization. It also challenges the tradition of Lithuanian “roadside sculptures”. A fenced pond by Mindaugas Navakas questions the meanings of stable form and sculptural shape. Despite the fact that not all the works are equally successful, the overall impression of the “zone” is more important as also are the new vistas of experience it opens up.