The installation Villa Lituania, presented at MO Museum, is a rare opportunity to see the reconstruction of the Lithuanian pavilion, which at the 2007 Venice Biennale received an Honorable Mention by the jury.
The project Villa Lituania, designed for the 52nd Venice Biennale by artists and recipients of the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts, Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, has received international attention and recognition (it was featured at MACBA Museum in Barcelona, Arcos Museum in Italy, introduced in the international publications Global Work of Art and the Critical Art Anthology of MoMA Museum in New York) and is exhibited in Lithuania for the first time. The installation, which belongs to the MO collection, is displayed in the context of the first MO exhibition “All Art Is About Us” (curator Raminta Jurėnaitė). The installation as well as its history and video material will be available at MO until 10 March.
Why is Villa Lituania important?
The project Villa Lituania, which has sparked off debate in the worlds of both art and politics, creates a poetic narrative of the lost territory and the desire to recover it. It is an artistic expression of the fight for freedom.
Villa Lituania was built in Rome in 1933-1940 and served as the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Italy. After the occupation of Lithuania, the Soviets founded the USSR Representation there. After 1990, the building became the Russian Consulate and the issue of its return has not been resolved.
In 2007, N. & G. Urbonas proposed an artistic provocation – symbolic pigeon race between Venice and Rome. Pigeons, which stand for peace, had to land in a pigeon house, built in the garden of the Villa Lituania Embassy in Rome – the last occupied territory of Lithuania. After unsuccessful negotiations with Russia and without the permission to build the pigeon house, the original idea had to be adjusted, and the pigeon race of the Villa Lituania Cup took place in Venice.
“This whole project has a multilayer nature that encourages reflection of important and painful events in our history: occupation and fight for freedom. Symbolically, the installation will be opened almost on the eve of the Freedom Defenders‘ Day,” says Milda Ivanauskienė, Director at MO.
Symbolic venue for the project
As the project, aimed at preservation of historical memory and artistic activism, Villa Lituania interrelates with the Pro-Test Laboratory by N. & G. Urbonas, which took place more than a decade ago in exact same place – the cinema theatre Lietuva, which stood in the current location of MO. The social, public and political campaign, aimed at resisting the privatisation of cultural sites and demanding the preservation of public spaces in the city, has evolved into a public movement.
“Art can sometimes achieve more than politics or diplomacy. After the ineffective efforts of the post-Soviet Lithuanian diplomats to recover the lost territory, Villa Lituania is now alive at MO, where, among other stories, its visitors can hear the authentic voice of Ambassador Kazys Lozoraitis,” adds Gediminas Urbonas.
The installation of Villa Lituania at MO will be open for viewers for two months. During this period, visitors of the museum will not only be able to get to know more about the reconstruction of the project, but also take part in other activities. Visitors can visit the installation with MO Museum ticket.
N. & G. Urbonas are among the most prominent Lithuanian artists, theorists, and educators of today, who have gained international recognition due to their interdisciplinary projects in the field of public art of political and protest nature. Recently, they have been looking into ecological themes. In 2018, the artists represented Lithuania in Venice for the second time and presented the project the Swamp Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale. They are also recipients of the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts.
Opening of Villa Lituania: photo album.
Photo credit: Radvilė Juozapaitytė