Abstract- Vytautas Michelkevicius

(Post)photography and Media Art: Rethinking Institutionalization and Public Curatorship in Lithuania

The goal of this paper is to present a short historical overview on Lithuanian photographical art and media art institutionalization as well as photographical art displacement by media art which is very obvious in the recent new media curating project. It is considered that theoretical and practical insights coming from new media field is very helpful in transforming post-soviet media art landscape.
There are two things, which could be interesting while doing place studies in Lithuanian media art:
1) The closeness of Soviet art system and a new school (and institution) born in this context in the 1970s.
2) The import of western art strategies from 1990s and the case study of post-photography exhibition implemented by public curatorship on the weblog www.3xpozicija.lt (eng. 3xposition) and in the gallery “Prospektas” in 2006.
A short piece of history
Critics agree that there is such term “Lithuanian School of Photography” that describes Lithuanian photography from 1970s to 1990s. In 1969 the movement was institutionalized into Union of Lithuanian Art Photographers, which is still running today.
In the middle of 1990s some of the members have left the union and established a department of Photography and Media Art in Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts. The institutionalization of media art gave refreshment to the whole field. The next step was the introduction of new media art practices into Lithuania (like RAM6 in 2004).
The case study of a public curatorship project
One of the most intrigued event in collision of photography and media art is the exhibition “Comments@3xpozicija.lt: Post-photographical Condition in Contemporary Art” (Vilnius, 2006). The exhibition was rethinking photography as a medium and is an example of media art transformation in post-soviet Lithuania. The exhibition itself was constituted of photography, archive, sound and generative art pieces.
The project started with a weblog, which acted as a public curatorship agent. Every moment of curatorship process was open publicly for viewers and participants: from discussing the concept of upcoming exhibition and artists’ proposed artworks till getting involved into whole curatorship process and sharing the gallery space. The viewer could experience as a final result not only the exhibition but also the whole archive of curatorship process which was exhibited in the gallery and in the weblog. One of the goals of the project was to apply the knowledge coming from new media sphere to the gallery sphere.