8th Baltic Triennial of International Art. (Reviews: Vilnivs)

By Huck, Brigitte | Artforum International, January 2003 | Go to article overview

8th Baltic Triennial of International Art. (Reviews: Vilnivs)


Huck, Brigitte, Artforum International


CONTEMPORARY ART CENTRE/OLD PRINTING HOUSE

Europe's geographic center lies farther east than one might expect; specifically, in the vicinity of the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. It is to this fact that the canny Tobias Berger, Fluxus specialist from Kassel and curator of the 8th Baltic Triennial, owes the title and theme of his exhibition. "Centre of Attraction" dealt with the attraction of the idea of "center" but also with conventional modes of fullness and emptiness, chaos and structure, power and control. As an outspoken fan of biennials, Berger defends this hotly contested format for reasons both pragmatic and symbolic: A biennial generates centers, and thus public attention, even if for just a short while.

A quick tour through the Contemporary Art Centre and the beat-up Old Printing House, where once upon a time Pravda wound its way through the presses, made clear that "Eastern art" no longer exists as a genre. Berger's model was refreshingly undogmatic, and his investigations radiated in concentric circles from the nucleus of Lithuania, across Scandinavia, Poland, and Belarus, and farther out to Japan, New Zealand, and the United States. On hand were fifty-five artists, duos, and groups, several of whom exhibited site-specific works: Christian Jankowski asked Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus questions on art and politics and projected the answers in the main hall of the CAC using display lights that were part of the country's stage equipment for Expo 2000 in Hannover. A video piece by Audrius Novickas in the entrance also revolved around the president, who always takes his official visitors, from Chirac to Schroder, on the same tour through the old city, always on the same route, the same routine. The presi dential axis continued with Sarah Morris's film Capital, 2000, which shows Bill Clinton's helicopter landing in Washington, DC. In the clerestory room, the Swiss artists Hendrikje Kuhne and Beat Klein constructed a cityscape out of cutouts from travel brochures; the late Mark Lombardi's drawings graphed networks behind criminal cases and the collapse of an investment bank; local fixture Deimantas Narkevicius cinematically chauffeured visitors to the center of Europe in just over nine minutes, in the process turning that geographic destination into an ideological site. …

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