MO Museum and Kaunas City Museum open a unique exhibition about two cities and in two cities. The exhibition “Kaunas–Vilnius: Moving Mountains” explores the coded and inevitable conflict between Kaunas and Vilnius. However, this tense relationship is approached from a positive perspective – the rivalry does not take anything away from or hold back the two cities, but pushes them both relentlessly forward. The exhibition is one of the highlights of the Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 programme this year.
By inviting visitors to the exhibition representatives of MO Museum and Kaunas City Museum invite them to reflect on the changing dynamic relationship between Kaunas and Vilnius. And to answer the question: how are these cities related and necessary to each other?
The entire exhibition can be seen by visiting both cities – MO Museum in Vilnius and the temporary M. K. Čiurlionis Art Gallery in Kaunas. The exhibition will run from 23 April to 28 August.
More than external competition
Both cities are associated with stereotypes, with clichés that can’t be explained quickly but are familiar to all. However, the curators of the exhibition missed new research about them, so they started by consulting experts in different fields.
According to the cultural historian Tomas Vaiseta, the author of the exhibition concept, the exhibition was originally supposed to be about the competition between Kaunas and Vilnius, about stereotypes that could be analysed anthropologically. But as curators delved deeper into the exhibition’s material, a different picture of the exhibition began to emerge – a narrative about the relationship between the cities, which is much more diverse than just an external competition.
“The exhibition is about the artistic, cultural and political interaction between Vilnius and Kaunas. The various storylines in the exhibition help to present the multi-layered aspects of Kaunas and Vilnius’ proximity and relationship. This is an art and cultural history exhibition, which aims to grasp the constantly evolving and changing images of the two cities, the relationship of the citizens with these cities, their self-perception and even alternative identities,” says T. Vaiseta.
What mountains are moved?
The curators of the exhibition have left both an intrigue in the title and a hint to the exhibition’s intentions – they have chosen the metaphor of a “mountain” to describe the relationship between Kaunas and Vilnius. A mountain is an obstacle, a challenge, it connects and separates at the same time. Through the four mountains that constantly appear in the exhibition’s narrative – Gediminas Hill, Žaliakalnis, Tauro Hill and Owl Hill – different forms of interaction between Kaunas and Vilnius are revealed.
“Although the exhibition is about mountains, there are no real mountains in either Vilnius or Kaunas, only hills. Therefore, “mountain” takes on several meanings in the exhibition. It becomes a metaphor for a complex or resentment, when we want what we don’t have. The aspiration to “move the mountains”, which appears in the title of the exhibition, appeals to the effort to get rid of complexes, grievances and obstacles that prevent one from seeing the true relationship between Kaunas and Vilnius”, – says T. Vaiseta.
The motif of the mountain is also physically important, as it is repeated in the architecture of the exhibition, which visually reveals the exhibition as an expedition. Visitors walking freely through the exhibition space will discover mountains, their foundations or ruins. The architecture for the exhibition was created by Julijonas Urbonas and Vladas Suncovas, and the exhibition designer is Inga Navickaitė-Drąsutė.
Works of art created especially for the exhibition
The exhibition features a wide range of artworks: paintings, photography, video art and installations. In total, there are 202 works of art (151 in Vilnius and 51 in Kaunas), including seven works created especially for this exhibition. It was very important for the curators to see Vilnius and Kaunas as cities that interact here and now, that influence each other and that are critically reflected upon by artists.
Therefore, the exhibition deliberately includes a number of younger generation artists. The exhibition also features as many as 123 different sketches, posters, cartoons, online memes, children’s drawings, videos from social platforms or songs.
Cooperation between two cities and two museums
2022 will be an exceptional year full of various cultural events in Kaunas. As the European Capital of Culture, Kaunas is also building its identity through an authentic relationship with Vilnius. This exhibition in Vilnius and Kaunas is an integral part of the overall programme of Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022.
The exhibition “Kaunas–Vilnius: Moving Mountains” is the result of a collaboration between two museums: MO Museum and Kaunas City Museum.
Experiences to accompany the exhibition
By delving deeper into the relationship between Kaunas and Vilnius, the curators of the exhibition have expanded the theme in various formats. Therefore, the exhibition is accompanied by an exhibition book analysing the theme of Kaunas and Vilnius from different angles; from artistic, geographical, sociological and even linguistic perspectives. An e-guide to the exhibition in Lithuanian and English will help you experience the exhibition in both Kaunas and Vilnius:
MO Museum and Kaunas City Museum also want to involve children in the theme of the exhibition. Therefore, the traditional children’s booklet of creative tasks created by MO Museum for each exhibition is being expanded so that children in both Vilnius and Kaunas will be able to get acquainted with the tasks and solve them.
And that’s not all – visitors to the exhibition will be able to take a quiz created especially for the exhibition to find out how well they know Vilnius or Kaunas, or if they have a good knowledge of both cities and are Kaunavilnis’ visionaries. The quiz in Lithuanian can be taken live at MO Museum or online.
A diverse exhibition team
The co-authors of the exhibition include no fewer than seven representatives from the fields of art, culture, history and other fields of expertise. The author of the exhibition concept is Tomas Vaiseta. Curators and co-curators of the exhibition: Justina Juodišiūtė, Kotryna Lingienė, Kęstutis Lingys, Ernestas Parulskis, Miglė Survilaitė, Rasa Žukienė. The curators of the exhibition were also consulted by: Julijana Andriejauskienė, Marija Drėmaitė, Linara Dovydaitytė, Giedrė Godienė, Lara Lempertienė, Jurgita Verbickienė, Sigita Žemaitytė-Strazdė. Architects of the exhibition: Vladas Suncovas, Julijonas Urbonas, designer – Inga Navickaitė-Drąsutė.
Read MOre about the exhibition: