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About the Audit 0

Danute Gambickaite

Photo: Robertas Narkus 

Exhibition “The Audit” is open for viewing through January 20, 2013, at the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius.

Recently a friend of mine told me about Cthulhu, a contrived deity who lives in the Pacific Ocean, which somehow linked with an exhibition “The Audit” at the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius. This story might have passed unnoticed through my memory, but at the time I was reading a covering letter for the exhibition, written by a curator Auridas Gajauskas. The legend of Cthulhu was about something that I don’t quite remember now, but the atmosphere of the great geographical discoveries and wandering through the sea remained. And that is why Cthulhu fits here perfectly. Cthulhu was created by H.P. Lovecraft and first appeared in the story “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1928. This creature could affect the human mind even while being imprisoned in the drowned city of R'lyeh. It looked partly like an octopus, a dragon and a human. The story emphasized Cthulhu as the source and the allegory of the humankind’s anxiety. The question, however, rises – how is Cthulhu associated with an audit and the discussed exhibition. I will talk about this later. Now let’s try to examine the exhibition from a more informative and coherent perspective.

 “The Audit” – is a sectional exhibition of young and already well-known Lithuanian artists; they are – Antanas Gerlikas, Liudvikas Buklys, Laura Kaminskaitė, Naglis Kristijonas Zakaras, Elena Narbutaitė, Rimgailė Dručiūnaitė, Vytenis Burokas, Monika Dirsytė, Darius Mikšys, Rita Šerpytytė, Jonas Žakaitis and Aurimė Aleksandravičiūtė. Surprisingly, alongside the exhibition you can browse through such publications and publication groups as Federal #3, the collection of MoMA Millennium Magazines, newly released catalogue “Lithuanian Art 2012: 18 Exhibitions” and books from the CAC collection. This is definitely a project of a curator and most of the answers (if there are any questions) are known only by the curator himself. If a spectator is able to suppress the anxiety, he can take a wander through the deserts and valleys of interpretations or try to do some kind of self-auditing. This exhibition reminds me of a dream; of travelling with what at first sight seem as completely unrelated references yet knowing that they have either already formed a mutual relation or that the relation can be created at any time. The atmosphere of “The Audit” also reminds me of a movie “Synechdoche New York” by Charlie Kaufman. Last of all, it resembles a part of a speech synecdoche (or simultaneous understanding) that has finely inserted between the exhibition, the audit (the concept), the covering letter and me as a perceiver.  The covering letter could have easily become a showpiece. Maybe it already has…

According to the publications in the press: “Audit is a professional property valuation system which was formed in 18th-19th centuries. Many railway companies in the United Kingdom were required to resumé all railway numbers into regular system and to create a safe income census data which enables professional audit in 1840. Since 19th century audit is identified as a rational valuation system, which determines not only what exists but also what does not exist, or what is lacking. In this instance, audit operates not only in property valuation system but also in many other determination processes of reality recognition, identification and right to any existence.” Following this point, the exhibition is about determination process of reality – the identification, the recognition and the right to any existence. This exhibition of the young and the well-known Lithuanian contemporary artists can be identified as a rational valuation system, which determines not only what exists, but also what does not exist or what is lacking; where everything is determined and not evaluated or priced; en exhibition where invited to participate are those who exist and those who don’t (this sentence can be understood as a metaphor). I do not undertake to judge (and I do not recommend others to do that either), who are the ones that “exist”, “are lacking” or “do not exist”.

This exhibition can also be seen as every artist’s and curator’s self-audit, an identification of his or her own works at the certain period, a self-definition. Vytenis Burokas, one of the artists who took part in the exhibition, has also noted that. According to him, the self-audit is exactly what he did in this exhibition. The other participants’ semblances are very diverse – starting with the catalogue of “Lithuanian Art 2012: 18 Exhibitions”, the shelf of books to give away or the lecture about nihilism by Rita Šerpytytė, etc. Eventually, I recall Cthulhu, which was described in the beginning of this text, the deity of anxiety, who looks like octopus, dragon and human and lives in underwater city. In the story Cthulhu is an allegory of the humankind’s sub-consciousness anxiety. Something similar can be traced in this exhibition. Here, however, it’s not the exhibition, which is anxious, it’s the spectator.

I see this exhibition as an anxiety synecdoche or metonymy. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter. An audit, anyhow, is a rational system of the identification of reality and a recognition, which should give an opportunity for order and self-reflection to come up. I have never, however, heard (in reality and not only there) that an audit doesn’t bring a strong feeling of anxiety.