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An open and international enviroment
In Lithuania, local and foreign artists alike have lots of room to experiment, develop, and grow their ideas. Indeed, creative talents from across the globe are increasingly drawn in by the co-creating opportunities the country offers them to collaborate with colleagues and curators. Energised by this desire to facilitate new connections and ideas, Lithuania is also home to many festivals aimed at promoting creative exchange between artists.
Residency by the river
Designed by award-winning Lithuanian architect Audrius Ambrasas, Rupert Residency and Education Centre offers residencies to local and international artists alike. Located in a picturesque area in Vilnius by the river Neris and a small beach, Rupert also runs an alternative education programme for promising young creators. This para-academic and interdisciplinary educational platform complements the academic field with self-study practices while bringing individual creators into a community. Rupert was also the driving force behind the Lithuanian Space Agency, a project by artist Julijonas Urbonas who was the Lithuania’s entry at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2021.
Inspiration on the dunes
Beautifully situated in a spot surrounded by sand, sea, and verdant forest, Nida Art Colony invites artists, performers, writers, and curators from across the world to share, discuss, and create. Opened in 2011 as a subdivision of the country’s prestigious Vilnius Academy of Arts, the residence is open all year round, and accepts around 700 people annually. Truly welcoming and all-encompassing in its vision, the Nida Art Colony seeks to forge a ‘creative confluence of academic and non-academic education, artistic and scientific practice, hard work and leisure.’ Among the fruits of this confluence is the sustainability-focused Children’s Forest Pavilion, a collaborative project that will represent Lithuania at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2023.
Within its expansive and impressive 2,500 square metres premises, the centre provides a space for workshops, intensive courses, exhibitions, seminars, rehearsals, artists’ talks, and screenings. Meanwhile, its residency program has a singular, collaborative goal: ‘To provide time and space for residents to focus and, through exchange, gain insight, broaden, and diversify their outlook.’
An urban space for creative exchange and self-realisation
Operated by the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association, SODAS 2123 openly invites its members to practice cultural and creative exchange in an environment of true self-governance, independence, and mutual learning. Encompassing 50 artists’ studios, rehearsing studios for bands, offices for design, film and visual arts organisations, exhibition spaces, event spaces, various workshops, a cafe, a public outdoor garden space, a public allotment, and more, SODAS2123 is comprehensive in both its scope and its embracing of artistic fields. Nowhere is this expressed more clearly than in its residency programme, which is open to artists, designers, architects, researchers. Here, residents are given complete artistic freedom to curate and develop their projects individually and as they see fit.
Where art meets people
Built in 1930, following a project by Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis, father of Vytautas Landsbergis, one of the leaders of the Lithuanian independence movement, this is one of the nation’s oldest and most well-established artist residencies. The Kaunas Artists’ House aims to create a platform for artistic creation and be a space for contextual curatorial practices. Since 2019, the Artists’ House has been running its Unlearning Eastern Europe residency programme. Aimed at rethinking the issues specific to the region, from traumas of the historical past to opportunities for decolonization to strategies of memory politics or activism, the residency has been inviting artists from across the Eastern Europe to co-create by engaging with local artists, students, activists, academics, and residents of the city.
Making a lasting impression on the performing arts
Situated in the heart of Vilnius Old Town, the Arts Printing House (Menų spaustuvė) strives to be a vehicle for change in the performing arts scene. Established in a former printing house dating back to 1585, the building is both an arts venue and ’a meeting place for artistic souls.’ Launched in 2002, it has since become part of the esteemed international TEH (Trans Europe Halles) organisation, one of the oldest cultural networks in Europe. Home to hundreds of theatrical, contemporary dance, new circus, interdisciplinary and educational projects, the Arts Printing House invites you ‘to come to Vilnius and leave a creative trace by sharing your visions, innovative ideas, and personal experience.’
Take a walk on the wild side
For those wishing to tread a more alternative path with their artistic explorations, there is Žeimiai Manor House. Since 26 January 2013, the restored manor has been home to Aikas Žado Living Museum, a continuous artwork that encompasses not only the entire area of the manor, but also its visitors and tourists (as well as the resident artists, of course). The Manor’s Residencyoyo program accepts artists, active creators, academics, scientists, engineers, and activists from Lithuania and the rest of the world, with the only stipulation being that residents must base their ideas and creatively relate them to the local context of the Žeimiai Estate.
Lost in creation, not translation
Staying at the International Centre for Translators and Writers (ICTW), creators collaborate while enjoying the endless dunescapes of the Curonian Spit (a site once visited by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir). Established in 2018, the ICTW is a creative space and residence where local and foreign translators and writers can perfect their skills and share experiences. Workshops, conferences, and seminars allow the residing creators to expand their international cultural experience and present their work to their like-minded peers.
Co-creating a visual residency
Lithuania’s artistic footprint is not only a domestic one, but it also extends beyond its borders. This is more than evident in the way its cultural professionals have facilitated artistic interaction abroad and online. Most recently, the Cultural Attaché of the Republic of Lithuania in the USA Gražina Michnevičiūtė and New York gallery Undercurrent launched a pair of online residency programmes called 10001 and 10002 aimed at overcoming the restrictions imposed on physical artistic co-creation during the pandemic. Pairing European and NYC-based artists who have never met before, the virtual residencies challenged them to connect across artistic mediums, language, culture, generations, and time zones. The resulting new forms of expression and meaning culminated in un/mute, an international group exhibition of collaborative works.
More than just a Festival
Festivals in Lithuania are a nexus for idea exchange, debate, and implementation. Firmly focused on bringing together creators and stakeholders from across the cultural sector, they inspire and facilitate art making across many disciplines.
The Baltic Triennial
First held at the Vilnius Palace of Exhibitions in 1979, the Baltic Triennial broke the mould of the conservative art scene of the day. And it is this nonconformist character that still defines it now. The triennial is proud of its all-embracing spirit, encompassing everything from painting and posters to applied art and ceramics. Bringing together artists from multiple disciplines and backgrounds, the event blurs the boundary between official and underground art.
Vilnius International Film Festival / Kino Pavasaris
An annual two-week long movie marathon, Vilnius International Film Festival’s Lithuanian title is Kino Pavasaris, which translates to Cinema Spring. Each year, VIFF presents a diverse set of films, from latest festival hits to retrospectives of legendary directors. But VIFF is not just about screenings. The festival is accompanied by Meeting Point – Vilnius, an international event that brings hundreds of audio-visual industry professionals to discover, develop and support young European talent and their upcoming debut films.
Originally a show of local textile artists, today Kaunas Biennial is one of the largest and most significant contemporary art events in the Baltics. Known for reinventing itself with every edition, the biennial stands out not only for the variety of artworks presented but also for its institutional independence. With openness and collaboration at the heart of the event, Kaunas Biennial explores the defining moments of the world today and embraces innovative art practices.
Druskininkai Poetic Fall
Druskininkai Poetic Fall is an international annual literary festival held in the first half of October between the bucolic spa town of Druskininkai and the country’s capital Vilnius. Promoted as a ’laboratory’, the festival brings together poets, critics, literary scholars and publishers, alongside poetically inclined members of the public with the aim of stimulating poetic discussion and creation. Indeed, one of the festival’s highlights is its anonymous poetry competition, and the whole event is crowned by a pure act of co-creation, a poetry almanack containing poems from the participants in their own language.
What’s Next in Music?
What’s Next in Music? is an international showcase festival and conference on innovations and new opportunities in the music industry. Bringing together important foreign publishers, agency representatives, festival and concert organisers, and journalists, the festival aims to explore the myriad complexities of the modern music world, as well as navigate its possible future forms.
The program of the event lasting for several days consists of two parts: a conference during the day and concerts organised in various musical spaces of Vilnius in the evenings. This gives the participants a unique opportunity to experience both theory and practice.
The region’s largest visual arts event, ArtVilnius is a contemporary art fair that presents most prominent galleries from Lithuania and abroad to more than 20,000 visitors each year. During the weekend-long event, art lovers take part in creative workshops, talks, and artist meet-and-greets. ArtVilnius also puts on an annual large-scale sculpture and installation show called Takas (The Path), in which many artists from across Europe have presented their work.
The war in Ukraine has united Lithuanian and Ukrainian people and artists. Lithuania has opened up its cultural institutions to Ukrainians who have taken refuge in Lithuania. Aiming at giving the Ukrainian people and artists a co-creation space, CulturEUkraine Centre has been established in Kaunas, the city that holds the honourable title of the European Capital of Culture for 2022. It is a centre for debate and therapy and at the same time a residence for artists.