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Lithuania will be represented at the 54th Venice Art Biennale by Darius Mikšys.

Hard as a Flint 0

Anna Iltnere

After meeting Darius Mikšys (1969), the metaphor “flint” comes to mind. The encyclopedia says that “When struck against steel, a flint edge will shave off tiny particles of steel or another material that, heated by friction, will oxidize in the atmosphere and ignite.” Darius’s personality seems dense and unshakeable. He himself doesn’t burn, therefore he doesn’t call himself an artist. But with a curious passion he ignites situations and processes, observing how they will naturally turn out. In 2008, at the 16th Sidney Biennale, Darius organized a performance where he invited participants’ parents to a meeting with the creative director of the Biennale, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. During the meeting, Carolyn informed the parents what their children were preparing for the Biennale. The guideline was to let the parents realize that they, too, had unconsciously become Biennale artists, because they were the authors and creators of their children. In other projects, Darius has sold an empty perfume bottle on eBay, documented the Vilnius Parapsychology Fair, and been late to a lecture on procrastination. Last year he participated in the European of Biennale Contemporary Art Manifesta 9, and this year he will represent Lithuania at the 54th Venice Biennale, with the work Behind the White Curtain. Residents and guests in Vilnius had the chance to view this work up close in April, when the Contemporary Art Center exhibited a “general rehearsal” for the pavilion. I met Darius at the CAC café, while the test pavilion was being set up one floor above us.

Anna Iltnere: How would you characterize yourself as an artist? There are painters, video artists, sculptors. Would you call yourself an artist of processes, situations, or contexts?

Darius Mikšys: I don’t think in those categories. I don’t attach myself to one genre or medium. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t formulate it like that. But I don’t know whether the medium is so important.

But there must be some personal formulation about what, precisely, you do, and what it is engaging for you to create?

In the latest issue of e-flux [the April issue of the New York virtual art magazine –A. I.], the editor’s column said that any good artist can develop himself very well in at least two or three professional fields. And the question is, why do they nonetheless continue to do art, which demands an investment of time and money, with only nominal feedback?