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Early Lithuanian video art online

Meno Avilys

From now on early Lithuanian video art and artists are presented online at Independent Cinemateque (sinemateka.lt) together with Lithuanian documentaries. The aim of the project is to select the most significant national moving images, also restore, digitize and publicize them via public screenings, educational programs and expositions.
According to video art section curator Gerda Paliusyte, today early Lithuanian video art recalls the DIY pleasure and creative freedom, the ability to experiment freely with the medium itself, without seeking purity of form or idea. In addition, it brings us back to the materiality of the media itself - alongside object-oriented ontology, theories of new materialism, and it takes on new relevance. It is no coincidence that the popular MO Museum exhibition, The Origin of Species. 90's DNA, featured the work of several authors featured in the Independent Cinemateque. Among them are video cassettes from Aurelija Maknyte's project VHS Studio, the recordings of which can be seen in the sinemateka.lt.
In 1988 Henrikas Gulbinas presented his work Undiscovered Things at the exhibition Meetings in Klaipeda - abstract audiovisual projections, were displayed alongside paintings and graphics. This event, actually the first exposition of Lithuanian video art, eventually became one of the reference points in art criticism texts about the beginning of Lithuanian video art and its limits.
The early works of Lithuanian video artists were selected on the basis of cultural phenomena, personalities and contexts important to the history of Lithuanian video art. While researching the history and the present of Lithuanian video art it turned out that it is inseparable from various cultural phenomena, not always directly related to video art, and their development in Lithuania. For example, a difficult beginning of feminist thought or a very active Siauliai city musical and art scene in the 90s. On the other hand, the development of Lithuanian video art was often shaped and influenced by various random circumstances and processes directly related to the complex economic and social reality of the young state, the dynamics of the Lithuanian art scene and the relationships between artists.
G.Paliusyte says, the work investigated in the project, usually created in unstable cinema or VHS tapes, covers 1988-2001 period. Newcomers to the early Lithuanian video art, or interested in its evolution, will find some of the coordinates of its history in the archive of sinemateka.lt. “One of the main phenomena that directly influenced early Lithuanian video art and its complex development - Lithuania's independence and changing cultural financing mechanism, easier access to ideas from the West, technological development, opportunities to borrow or even buy a portable film camera, Video Studio courses, operating at Vilnius Academy of Arts 1994-1997, founding of the Contemporary Art Center, the first Franco-Baltic video art festival Franco-Balte d'art Video in Vilnius in 1992, Soros Contemporary Art Center funded by George Soros in Lithuania and others” - emphasizes video art researcher G.Paliusyte. Not only the well-known video artists Karla Gruodis, Gintaras Seputis, Paulius Arlauskas or Aleksas Andriuskevicius are featured, but also student works of the first video art courses in Lithuania, works of architect Valdas Ozarinskas and others.
Together with the early video art authors, interviews with today's creators, producers, filmmakers and philosophers are published. G.Paliusyte: “The most interesting thing was watching video tapes for hours, discovering something I had never seen during my studies at the Vilnius Academy of Arts or in local exhibitions, meeting artists and talking to them and understand how sophisticated, crazy and open this decade was." Visitors are invited not to become acquainted with the chronological development of the video art, but with one of the interpretations of the 1990s in Lithuania.
G.Paliusyte is Lithuanian filmmaker and curator. In her works, G.Paliusyte explores the history of culture, stereotypes and contradictions in it. She is interested in a variety of documentary practices (such as docufiction), various historical and pop culture phenomena and characters, and their relationship to social reality.
Independent Cinemateque presentation video: https://vimeo.com/240879749
In 2012 Media education and research center Meno Avilys initiated Independent Cinemateque project, which aims at restoring and revealing the diversity of Lithuanian moving images heritage. In addition to simplifying the text, sound and image of an online presentation, the historical, social, cinematic and other contexts are offered.
In 2017 sinemateka.lt presented a part of Lithuanian documentary. There you can find works of: Almantas Grikevicius, Robert Verba, Henrikas Sablevicius, Viktoras Starosas and others. Among them is Audrius Stonys' film The Land of the Blind, in 1992 recognized as the best European documentary and awarded Felix prize. Some of these restored materials were shown in Lithuania, USA, Great Britain, Russia, Hungary and other countries.
The design of the sinemateka.lt is created by Pet Punk, a renowned visual solutions studio. The sinemateka.lt project was recognized as the Best Nonprofit Website at technology and innovation festival LOGIN 2019.
Project sponsors: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and Press, Radio and Television Sponsorship Funds
The strategic partner is the Lithuanian Council for Culture