About the Project

About the Project

Going Public | © Goethe-Institut/Nerijus Jankauskas
Going Public | © Goethe-Institut/Nerijus Jankauskas
The unprecedented surge of artists’ and art activists’ activity during the protests in the Arab world and in Western countries has triggered a resumption of debate about the relationship between art and the public sphere. Issues of visibility, effectiveness and quality of artistic statements in the public space, as well as reflections on the kind of audience they produce, increasingly attract the attention of the art sphere and the general public. The project “Going Public. On the Possibility of a Public Statement”, initiated by the Goethe-Institut Lithuania, took the current relevant discussions as its point of departure and reflected on the potential of art in public space and the conceptions of the public sphere.

Alongside Germany, the project involved Lithuania, Belarus and the Kaliningrad Area – all three comprising a region in which the political and social situations, as well as artistic practices and opportunities could hardly have grown more apart than they have in the last two decades.

Thus, for instance, interaction with public space is a matter of appropriate and reasonable actions for artists and art activists in Belarus, because any public statement may be interpreted as an evidence of potential guilt and may entail dire consequences in the existing political situation. In Lithuania we are witnessing the problem of strong instrumentalisation of art in public space by figures from the spheres of politics and economics. However, such appropriations practically do not affect the periphery: in provincial Lithuanian towns, in Kaliningrad and the Kaliningrad Area alike, artists’ activity in public space outside of major festivities is marginalized.

It is precisely the regional differences in socio-political contexts that made direct and immediate exchange between artists and theorists in the framework of the project particularly interesting. The starting point of the project was the collaborative workshop that was held in Vilnius on April 20-24, 2012. In summer and autumn 2012, artistic interventions, research sessions and participative projects took place in Klaipėda, Kaliningrad and Minsk. Individual artistic practices and theoretical approaches were successfully adopted and employed in different contexts. At the same time, their universality was subject to re-examination under different socio-political conditions.

The shared experience was presented during an interdisciplinary conference at the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig on November 9-11, 2012, which provided an insight into the less familiar, underrepresented aspects of European reality. Thus, the project’s concept did not presuppose one-way transfer of experience from Germany to Eastern and Central Europe, but rather provided all of the participants with an opportunity to expand their practical and theoretical approaches.
Lena Prents
Concept and curatorial supervising
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