Venice of Vilnius.
Did you know that there are at least a few Venices in Lithuania? One in Jonava district and one in Vilnius. You can see it here. We found this place in one of my performative walks, called “Neutrino Milk“. One of the walkers called the place a “very modern prison” and another said it was a place where living is very good for one’s health because of the high-voltage power line running next to it; at the end the third one commented that we had a great example of neoliberal communism. This is a real estate project in the southern part of Vilnius, the place most intertwined with various urban legends. There are urban theories that say the southern parts of cities are the most dangerous, the dirtiest, and the most toxic. Or is it a conscious move to rig the real estate prices? What about the Venetian real estate and the southern part of Venice?
… I’m Vitalis – an artist whose artistic activities and tools are mostly connected to walking. Walking in my research is a method, a tool, and an object.
I imagine the process of doctoral studies in arts as a complex artistic and theoretical / scientific study in which different paradigms interact for a single purpose. My creative part is the series of walks / performances that are influenced by the research, and the experiences at the performances and their analysis appears in a collection of texts. The relationship between the creative and the exploratory parts could be described by paraphrasing Merlin Coverley’s The Art of Wandering. The writer as a walker “- The Walker as a writer or The Walk as writing.
Experiences and their testimony are an essential part of my works of creation, and especially its documentation. It can be argued that my artwork (the performative series of walks “Silence Walks”, “Straight Detour”, “Quicksilver Jet”, “Neutrino Milk”, “Treading of Multilayer“) exists in the participant’s memory and can be accessed through the human, so in this case he/she is the medium. The medium that is responsible for the progress of the work. To experience (witness) an event, according to John Durham Peters, “… means being responsible for it.” In this case, you are both the medium and a kind of scanner. Anything that remains out of focus, unnoticed and intangible, is emphasized in my research – empathy, fear, anxiety, smell and breathing, fatigue, listening, pace, déjà vu, reality glitch, non-linguistic communication, group dynamics, etc.
In my walks it is particularly interesting that the consent to participate and thus take responsibility is also an invitation to co-author, if not the work itself, then at least its documentation. Thus, it is not only that the work of art exists in the participant’s memory (or the work is the participant’s memory), but he/she also becomes the co-author.
In my research, I consider:
- How various artificially created / arranged rules and schemes, and scenarios affect walking (as well as the environmental perception and imagination associated with this action).
- Walking as a kind of non-linguistic communication tool and / or condition.
- Walking as an urban, anthropological and sociological study of urban culture.
7. But today I will talk about one of my works and part of the field of research related to urbanization and neoliberal problems of urban development and growth. The piece is called “Neutrino Milk”.
8. “Neutrino Milk” is a pretext, or perhaps a reaction to geopolitical insights, that southern parts of cities tend to be economically weaker and more dangerous. There are many examples of this insight: Chicago, New York, London, etc. Some Lithuanian cities – Šiauliai and Vilnius – are no exception. The southern part of Vilnius starts at the Naujininkai district and continues towards the Kirtimai. These are neighborhoods evoke many negative associations – socially excluded people, dumpsters, noise, stench, dust, fuel, wasteland, aggression, drugs, alcohol, traffic, post-industrial hotspots with various warehouses and lots of trash. In other words, a lot of emotional, acoustic and air pollution.
9. The heading of the series “Neutrino Milk” states that it is “the slow flow down the busiest, most saturated with hard particles and the noisiest veins of Vilnius. With masks, milk, and communication only through messenger. This piece seems to be a pretext or suggestion not to go around those “supposedly” or “really” dangerous places, but to fly through the most unexpected and possibly sensitive points. I use certain elements of this piece (slow walking, messenger communication only) now to give this presentation to you because I find it interesting and useful to use the elements of the piece and the walking techniques I use to construct my performances-walks for presentation or documentation and education. This instigates us to create new works.
10. Walkers are intruders (foreign bodies), more specifically they play the role as intruders. They sort of pull themselves out of the environment (because walking is leaving the town, or the agenda, on a schedule) and in a sense they are characters in a movie, a performance, an experiment or something else. It is very interesting that this way of leaving and coming in another form, in this case wearing a mask, throwing impressions and drinking Moloko za vrednost, helps to discover very interesting collective insights and experiences that are not likely to be born exploring the city using conventional tools such as field research.
11. If we imagine walking as a movie, it is important to mention that I create scenography and editing in it. I create them through route construction, found objects, notes and participants themselves as well as their emotions. When it comes to constructing a route, the overlapping or crossing of certain places often creates points and triggers for the walkers and the performance body itself.
12. Before I got here, I went to shoot the Venice near the Vilnius Airport. I was afraid that I would be caught by the guards, so I invited two friends to imitate the romantic story, and I pretended to be taking pictures and filming them. The friends were having fun, romancing and laughing about the situation and kept repeating “WOW”. The high fences and camera systems surrounding Vilnius Venice were not crossed, but the Pelevinian “wow effect” has been achieved.