11 September - 26 October, 2012
Opening - 11 September 2012, 5.30 pm.
Vartai Gallery is pleased to announce of Laura Garbštienė’s solo show Foundation for Temporary Art. The artist’s critical and ironic attitude towards local cultural life is expressed here through non-didactic works that are also an attempt to create new art practices. Using forest survival tactics (knowledge and gathering of plants, berries and mushrooms), Garbštienė creates new strategies for an artist living on the periphery of the art world.
Unlike previous works by Garbštienė, the show will feature no images of the artist herself recorded in films or pictures, which has become the unique and provoking trademark of her works. The disappearance of physical manifestations of the artist’s body from exhibition spaces does not indicate a thematic departure in her work. On the contrary, the artist introduces even more performativity and more practices of the quest for identity thus continuing the theme of the Film about an Unknown Artist.
In the installation/action/experiment Foundation for Temporary Art, Garbštienė asks herself and the viewer: what does a contemporary artist become in a forest, far from the usually unavoidable social relationships, duties and cultural institutions which give or deny validity to artists’ works? During the entire period of the show, the artist will reside in a village on the outskirts of a forest, while the fruits of the earth grown or gathered by the artist herself will be available for purchase at the gallery. The continuous line of supply of art-food will support the Foundation for Temporary Art established by Garbštienė.
The other space of the Gallery will host the almost museum-like Room of Nature Studies. The work consists of a collection of poisonous plants found in the natural environment displayed on framed pages from the catalogue of the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale. The study of poisonous plants is Garbštienė’s first step towards a better knowledge of nature and has been referred to by the artist herself as amateur scientific work in the field of botany. Cultural values determine how plants are viewed as to their toxicity or usefulness. The properties ascribed and the names given to plants serve the purposes of consumerism. Plants in and of themselves have no inherent properties but people are not able to look at them without the interference of culture.
A collection of poisonous plants is a unique and narrow field comprehensible to very few, like contemporary art and its phenomena. According to the artist, despite the fact that the Venice Biennale catalogue also introduces a unique collection of art, it has been chosen for the herbarium completely by chance – the softness of the paper is extremely suitable for displaying poisonous plants. Moreover, the artist believes that the use of cultural publications, especially catalogues, is problematic. Such publications lose their relevance very quickly and tend to end up gathering dust.
Although the spaces of the exhibition filled with Garbštienė’s natural objects pulsate with innocent and nonaggressive concern, they also hide a load of intense criticism. However, the artist refuses to wrap her show in the cloak of theory or socially engaged art. Nevertheless, in order not to veer from the way Lithuanian contemporary art is normally presented, a quotation is in order. In this particular case, maybe one from Ivan Michurin: “We cannot wait for favours from Nature. To take them from it – that is our task.”
Laura Garbštienė, who was born in 1973 in Vilkija, Lithuania, lives and works in Vilnius. From 2002, she has been creating videos, installations, pictures, actions and performances, and taking part in shows both in Lithuania and abroad. In 2009, the artist joined L'Abominable, the artist-run film lab in Paris. Garbštienė’s Film about an Unknown Artist (2009) won the FIPRESCI prize at the 2010 International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany) and in the same year the Award for the Best Emerging Filmmaker at the Lucca Film Festival (Italy).
Curator - Vitalija Jasaitė
Patron: Vilnius City Municipality
Sponsors of the exhibition: Culture Support Foundation of the Republic of Lithuania
Sponsors of the gallery: Bosca, Lietuvos rytas, Tark Grunte Sutkiene, Infoterminalas, UAB Draugų studija