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Chief Curator of The National Gallery of Art Vilnius - Lolita Jablonskiene.

I frequently mention an experience I had during the gallery’s opening exhibit in 2009. It was dedicated to Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911), the renowned Lithuanian artist, modernist, and composer. The exposition also included a technically equipped wall unit where visitors could listen to music by Čiurlionis and his contemporaries, and, using the touchscreen moderns, get to know the artist’s biography. We were convinced that this would engage younger audiences, who know Čiurlionis only from chocolate candy wrappers. We were wrong. People of all ages, and particularly older people, were excited to soak up information in this way and to see that a museum doesn’t just mean standing eye to eye with a painting—there are other ways to feel, hear, and touch informative materials. This made us realize that contemporary art is a very good instrument for giving people a solid ground to think over serious matters, and for communicating with various art periods. 

In Latvia, we’ve heard the opinion that the economic crisis has made artists focus their energies more and has stimulated the creation of more meaningful and full-blooded art forms. Have you observed something similar in Lithuania? 
Not exactly. There’s a certain number of Lithuanian artists from the nineties generation that work creatively not just for production and exhibition. Their activities are closely linked with the international art arena. They are certainly not much affected by the recession. Yet for art institutions this period is a real challenge. Not a collapse, but a challenge, because you really have to consider how not to become simply modest, but what to do with modest resources. Even if I say that right now I work only on administration, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking as a critic or a curator. It’s unfortunate that a project or discussion hasn’t been organized in Lithuania where we could discuss the possibilities for how to utilize the recession to the benefit of creation and the presentation of created works. That would be interesting. 

At the 54th Venice Biennale, Lithuania will be represented by Darius Mikšys. Could you tell us a little more about him as an artist?
Darius Mikšys is an individually minded artist who blazes his own trail. He began his artistic career in the mid-nineties in the field of new media and electronics. In the late nineties, the platform Euda Show was established in Lithuania. This is similar to the new media culture center RIXC in Latvia, only Euda Show didn’t develop to the institutional level. Darius Mikšys was a member of this platform.

The project submitted to the Venice Biennale is about Lithuanian cultural policy. Darius was interested in studying the procedure and results of grant allocation by the state.