An Exercise In Collaboration: Lithuania And Cyprus Combine At The Venice Biennale

Photo of Helen Brady
26 January 2016

A transnational project under the name of oO is Lithuania’s contribution at the 2013 55th International Art Exhibition in Venice – La Biennale di Venezia. In an unexpected collaboration with The Republic of Cyprus’ National Pavilion, the two countries will discuss the very idea of national participation. The atypical but eye-catching title lends to the unusual theme, and sets the stage for the sequence of concepts created by Lithuanian, Cypriot and other artists.

The international commission of the Venice Biennale has praised Lithuania and Cyprus for an ‘original curatorial format that brings together two countries in a singular experience.’ oO as a show truly reflected the current trend of this specific biennale. Fashioning the title ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, the curator Massimiliano Gioni was inspired by Marino Auriti’s dream to design an imaginary museum to house all worldly knowledge. Gioni wishes to capture an image of the world in all of its ‘infinite variety and richness.’ oO resists national borders in a very assertive way; by co-working, co-producing and co-commissioning an event that may not have been thought possible in uncertain economic climates. Rather, the exhibit has become an example in the exercise of collaboration. oO challenges the viewer to make sense of the display, categorise and suggest new and possible forms of organisation.

Spread across the floors of the palazzetto, the show seems to be designed along the lines of a treasure hunt, inviting the visitor to freely walk around the space. In an idiosyncratic style, the artists and curator want you to taste the beginning and the end of the show simultaneously. The exhibition is truly unexpected as it unfolds with improbable locations and artworks: a vacuum cleaner robot wanders around and Suzuki Landie and Honda Chaly motorcycles are stacked against the walls. Black and white images of gymnasts are juxtaposed amongst these installations and integrate themselves perfectly into the space. The exhibition opens itself up as a ‘detail within a detail’ and ‘oO becomes Oo and o0’ according to the organisers. It takes place in a building that has its own rhythm, character and schedule: the favourite venue for physical exercise in Venice will witness a simultaneous co-habitation of art and sports for the entire summer.

The curator, Raimundas Malašauskas is the former curator at CAC Vilnius and was part of the last dOCUMENTA research team. He has put together a rather interesting and innovative format where art and sport can mirror each other’s successes and sacrifices, producing endless possibilities in this unique entry to the Venice Biennale. The list of artists who are participating in the Lithuanian and Cypriot Pavilion are as follows: Gintaras Didžiapetris, Elena Narbutaite, Liudvikas Buklys, Kazys Varnelis, Vytaute Žilinskaite, Morten Norbye Halvorsen, Jason Dodge, Gabriel Lester and Dexter Sinister. For more information on these artists, view our article: ‘Cyprus Assumes its Cosmopolitan Identity at the Venice Biennale’.

The Lithuanian and Cypriot Pavilion:
Artists: Gintaras Didžiapetris, Elena Narbutaite, Liudvikas Buklys, Kazys Varnelis, Vytaute Žilinskaite, Morten Norbye Halvorsen, Jason Dodge, Gabriel Lester, Dexter Sinister.
Commissioners: Jonas Žokaitis, Aurime Aleksandraviciute.
Curator: Raimundas Malašauskas.
Venue: Palasport Arsenale, Calle San Biagio 2132, Castello.

About The Culture Trip’s Venice Biennale Project:

The 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale will take place from 1 June – 24 November. The Culture Trip’s Venice Biennale Series is an article series leading up to the start of the exhibition. With 88 countries participating in this year’s Biennale — 10 of them for the first time — and 150 artists from 37 countries, our coverage over the next couple of months will highlight a selection of the National Pavilions that will be participating in the 2013 edition of the Venice Biennale. Watch this space for our daily Venice Biennale updates or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

By Helen Brady

Installation views of oO.

Images Courtesy/Photos: Robertas Narkus.

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