Renata Šukaitytė (Lithuanian Culture Research Institute / Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre)
This paper seeks to examine the transcultural production and distribution strategies in contemporary Lithuanian film, namely feature fiction and documentary produced by auteurs Arūnas Matelis, Audrius Stonys, Šarūnas Bartas, Audrius Juzėnas and Kristijonas Vildžiūnas. The works of these directors will be reflected from geopolitical, economic and aesthetical perspectives as this will help to look at the phenomenon in a complex and sustained way. Almost the very first works of the mentioned filmmakers (especially Bartas) gained international recognition at international film festivals and formed a cross-national circle of their film fans. Being representatives of a small cultural and linguistic group they managed to create a film that crosses cultural and geographical borders due to development of intercultural aesthetics that could be characterized by representations of intercultural spaces and communities, mixture of different languages (mainly, Lithuanian, Russian, German and French) and nature of main protagonist (nomads), which trek form one place or community to another in quest of relief, freedom or new adventure. Their national or cultural identity is not clearly articulated, however they could be recognized as Europeans which land have always been a corridor for different nations and a temporary home or place of freedom. In addition to aforementioned artistic strategies, the intercultural character of these films is expressed in the very nature of its production as most of them are made in co-production with French, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch companies and with participation of international cast (Valentinas Masalskis, Ekaterina Golubeva, Leos Carax, Klavdia Koršunova, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and others) and conational members of broader creative team.
K. Paulius Zygas (Arizona State University)
In 1621 the Vatican upgraded the feast day of St. Casimir from duplex status, granted in 1602, to ritu semiduplici status, which expanded the saint’s veneration from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to all Roman Catholics worldwide. Eustachijus Valavičius, Bishop of Vilnius, and King Sigismund III Vasa then decided to add an entirely new chapel to the Cathedral of Vilnius, raising issues of its design and the choice of an architect.
Bishop Valavičius was well acquainted with Italian architectural trends. A seminarian in Rome during the early 1590’s, he returned there in 1620 to facilitate the canonization upgrade and other diocesan matters. During the quarter-century interval St. Peter’s Basilica had been transformed into the present building but still maintained some links to Old St. Peter’s.
The new building completely covered the sacred ground which the old building had covered. Venerable mementos were also salvaged and saved for re-use. The Solomonic columns, which Roman emperor Constantine donated to Old St. Peter’s in the 4-th century, were placed into the piers supporting the new basilica’s dome. Two antique africano columns, the first ones encountered on entering the old basilica, flanked the new basilica’s main entrance portal, immediately underneath the Benediction Loggia. This column pair was often compared to St. Peter and St. Paul and, likewise, to Joachin and Boaz, the free-standing column pair facing Solomon’s Temple. The dark red marble pilasters flanking the Benediction Loggia evinced the curtains which once covered the entrances to the temples of Moses, Solomon, and Herod.
Debra Raver (Indiana University)
As Handwoven magazine observes in their Winter 2010 issue, “counting graphed squares” and “watching the pattern grow” in pick-up weaving is “mesmerizing. You‘ll find yourself saying ‘Just one more row,’ over and over.” I felt a similar awe watching the patterns emerge in my Lithuanian music transcriptions (inspired by graph-paper weaving drafts). Row after row, as the vocal parts thread through the transcription boxes, the intervals in sutartinės (Lithuanian polyphonic chants) intertwine like the warp and weft of finely woven linen. Old sutartinė texts reveal that the more textually layered voice part was named the “rinkinys,” a term Daiva Vyčinienė metaphorically associates with weaving vocabulary in Sutartinės: Lithuanian Polyphonic Songs (2002, pp. 11–13). I discovered a related Lithuanian term is described by weaver Kati Reeder Meek as a known pick-up weaving technique (for patterning cloth). Importantly, every sutartinė pattern collected represents a performance by “songweavers” (as I call them), which I transcribed from 20thcentury ethnographies and my own Post-Soviet fieldwork. I found the close-knit voices of city performers still hold as song (and perhaps social) “binding agents”; they also show creative and colorful variegations of a former two-part village weaving aesthetic. I demonstrate through song and cloth samples how a sutartinė is like a weave, and a weave like a sutartinė. Presenting Lithuanian sutartinės as a visual-spatial creation, sound and image may spring to life—in the eyes and through the ears—deepening our sense of Lithuanian music and meaning in past and present cultural settings.
Rita Peirumaa (Estonian Academy of Arts)
Building of individual dwellings, was inappropriate in the context of Soviet ideology. Since the state could not solve the problem of scarce living space, it allowed citizens to build individual dwellings. Erecting private homes for many was the only possible solution to the problem of the absent “living room.”
Individual structures according to standard plans have not attracted any notable architectural attention. These dwellings were conceptualized as carriers of society and culture. They are monuments to individual memory. This aspect of the architectural cultural heritage has not been studied. The questions of role, meaning and value for these types of dwelling in Estonian society needs to be explored.
Vilius Dundzila (Harry S. Truman College, City Colleges of Chicago)
The Smetona authoritarian government (1926-1940) nationalized and reorganized the various scout movements in Lithuania. His Tautininkai (Nationalist) Party attempted to coopt the scouts to their nationalist ideology. Whereas some scouters accepted their political partisanship, some key scout leaders and the scout press resisted the nationalist ideology in subtle ways. One of the lasting effects of this process remains off and on scout claims that they are an ideological organization, although they disagree as to the content of their ideology.
Jurgita Staniškytė (Vytautas Magnus University)
For a long time theatre was described as a site, where community can contemplate or evaluate the representations of its own past and identity. According to this definition, theatre serves as a social environment that helps shape individual memories into a more or less coherent collective memory. However, in the last two decades post/soviet Baltic theatres has radically revised and complicated the notion of performance as a “vehicle of memory”. First of all, increasing body of contemporary performances that deal with personal memories openly avoid promotion of the sense of “coherent” collective memory or national history, but rather focuses on the notions of dislocation and paradox, on the imaginative or constructive (as well as emotional) aspects of historical narratives and investigate the interplay between reality and fiction in performative displays of individual memories as well as in the nature of historiography itself.
Performances of personal memories are employed onstage for various reasons: as symbolic witnesses to the past; as counter/agents to the official historiography renegotiating its versions and exclusions; as source of an authentic presence. However, contemporary displays of personal memories on Baltic stage often demonstrate quite different urge to play with the notions of “authentic” historical experience and to place the audience in the center of the game as the main agent, which can verify or recognize a given phenomenon / history / memory as fictional or real or, as a matter of fact, can be tricked to do so.
The paper will focus on three different strategies of performing personal memories in post/soviet Baltic theatre that can be conceptualized the following way: autobiographic performances as an urge for the reality effect; mythic representations of personal histories and personal stories on the verge of fictional. The examples of performances by NO99 (Estonia), The New Riga Theatre (Latvia), Oskaras Koršunovas Theatre, The Open Circle Theatre (Lithuania) and others will be analysed in the paper.
Martynas Petrikas (Vytautas Magnus University)
In his famous lecture given at Sorbonne University, Ernest Renan argued that forgetting is crucial for formation of a nation. This paper will analyse the opposite: an ability to remember will appear as a catalyst for collective national memory whereas the theatre will emerge as a tool for retrieval of historical periods into realm of collective memory. Representation of the First Independence (1918–1940) in contemporary Lithuanian theatre in this paper will be analysed dwelling on the notion of the politics of memory. Three of the possible forms of remembering will form a case in point: mythologizing, popularising and critical modes of memory on the stage of Lithuanian theatre will be presented as an example of interweaving of culture with ideology symptomatic for postcolonial society.
Bart Pushaw (Indiana University)
The essence of the growing national consciousness in the territories now known as Estonia and Latvia is captured in the Estonian writer Gustav Suits’ famous declaration “Let us be Estonians, but let us also become Europeans!” – a direct result of the cultural rights awarded to ethnic Estonians and Latvians after the 1905 Russian Revolution. As such, Estonian and Latvian artists became increasingly interested in expressing their own national identity while simultaneously joining mainstream European art trends. At the turn of the twentieth century, the controversial Symbolist movement was in full swing across Europe and hotly debated in artistic circles. For instance, in his 1906 essay entitled “Art and Technique,” Latvian painter Janis Rozentāls contended that, “art is not a trifling mythical being which comes down from heaven bestowing kisses on each and every barren dreamer.” Rozentāls, the forerunner of Latvian modern art in the early twentieth century, criticized what he perceived as the decadence of Symbolist artists such as Arnold Böcklin and Gustave Moreau – who created visual manifestations of their dreams and visions in order to express the inexpressible. Thus, Symbolist art in Estonia and Latvia does not easily fit into the art historical canon. This paper explores the unique situation experienced by Estonian and Latvian artists interested in joining mainstream European artistic currents as well as participating in formulating national identities, goals that were not always compatible.
Gundega Gailīte (Latvian Academy of Arts)
The paper is devoted to investigating the ways in which Latvian caricature produced otherness, both external and internal, with help of the maternal symbol of the nation.
The symbol of Mother Latvia has been served as a very important element of the national identity since XIX century. Acting as a means of unification, inclusion, it also functioned as a means of exclusion, marking the otherness. The materials consist of caricatures of the end of XIX c. – 1940. I intend to explore history of visualization of the symbol, its main types, functions, and the ways of producing Self and Other in national, gender, political, and ethnic discourses.
Caricatures played a role of an important factor of forming national identity in Latvia. In the time of the fight for independence the maternal image of the nation helped to mark Latvianness and mobilize Latvians.
In the time of Latvian Republic caricaturists (Zarins, Zeberins, Tillbergs, Ridans) exploited ‘Mother Latvia’ as an embodiment of strength of the state; care of the nation for its sons and daughters; its moral superiority; its belonging to the European civilization. The symbol was used to establish a norm in gender relations, e.g., claiming maternity as the highest destiny of woman and blaming feminism. It was exploited in political struggle: political opponents were marked as ‘disloyal children’ of Mother Latvia. In the same manner it contributed to marking otherness in interethnic relations.
My analysis focuses, besides the narrative means, on the visual ones (size, composition, and color of the images).
Linara Dovydaitytė (Vytautas Magnus University)
In recent years, the dominant approaches to Soviet art have become objects of criticism in Lithuanian academic texts. Two main problematic aspects are usually pointed out: 1) the fact that the Soviet era is generally analysed in the context of two differing modes of behaviour – conformism and resistance; 2) the fact that the discussion of Lithuanian artists’ relationship with the Soviet regime is based on value judgement. In the field of art history these approaches are mostly criticised for being too politicized. As a way from political evaluation of Soviet art a more “neutral” analysis is proposed by critically minded art historians. However there is a doubt that writing the history of art, just as the artistic practice, can be a politically and ideologically neutral activity in principle. This paper is dedicated to discuss a “third” possible approach to Soviet art, i.e. application of politically engaged analysis, such as post-colonial theory.
The application of postcolonial theory to post-Soviet art historical writing is quite problematic. On the one hand there is a fundamental question whether the occupation by the socialist USSR is equivalent to the capitalist colonization and can be analysed from the same theoretical perspective. On the other hand one encounters methodological difficulties as post-colonialism focuses mostly on literature, often leaving aside visual arts. With focus on existing (mis)uses of post-colonial theory in art historical analyses of the late Soviet art, I examine different concepts of post-colonial theory and various (dis)advantages of their application to writing the history of Soviet art.