This Saturday, October 8, the major international exhibition ‘The Meeting that Never Was’ opens at the MO Museum in Vilnius, curated by Charles Esche, Anders Kreuger and Gabrielė Radzevičiūtė. The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see the works of a diverse group of fascinating artists – Andy Warhol, Guerrilla Girls, Yves Klein, Marlene Dumas, Marija Teresė Rožanskaitė, Deimantas Narkevičius and others – here in Lithuania, and also to talk about the period of the Cold War, which continues to shape today’s world. The exhibition will be open from October 8 until March 12.
The impetus for ‘The Meeting that Never Was’ was the dialogue between two European museums of modern and contemporary art – MO in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The exhibition presents the works of more than 65 artists.
Milda Ivanauskienė, the director of the MO Museum, says that since the beginning of the museum’s existence, one of its most important goals was to develop connections between the art scenes of Lithuania and other countries by exploring important themes. “This meeting is extraordinary, nothing like this has ever happened before. It marks a significant attempt to look at the history of Western art more inclusively and to transcend the remnants of mental boundaries shaped by the 20th century. It is even more important in the context of Ukraine’s fight against aggression,” she notes.
More than 170 artworks meet in Vilnius
The narrative of the exhibition suggests following the flow of historical time, presenting more than 170 artworks created between 1955 and 2000. This is the first meeting of such scale between Lithuanian, Western European and American artists and their works: for many decades of the Cold War, they were separated by the Iron Curtain.
The director of the Van Abbemuseum and curator of the current exhibition, Charles Esche, admits that he always wanted to achieve exactly what was done here: to bring together artists that, although artificially divided, lived and worked on the same planet, sharing many similar responses and ideas. “The concept originated from my experience in Western museums in the 1990s and 2000s, when the interest in Eastern Europe was almost exotic, as though there was no long history of Intereuropean artistic dialogue,” he says.
Significant event for both Lithuanian society and art community
The artists, their works and stories presented in ‘The Meeting That Never Was’ offer a deeper look into the kaleidoscopic historical reality of the time on both sides of the Iron Curtain: from confrontation, reconciliation and resistance to the prevailing ideologies to searching for a unique voice in the unbalanced post-war era.
“We are glad that this exhibition didn’t just turn into a local showcasing of the big names of the Western art world. Keeping in mind today’s context, our chosen perspective, offering a more critical look at the grand narratives of history, feels much more important and relevant. The center and the periphery of the exhibition seem to lose their coordinates, dictated only by the perspective of our own thinking”, says Gabrielė Radzevičiūtė, co-curator of the exhibition.
The new exhibition – which couldn’t happen earlier than thirty years after the end of the Cold War – is particularly important for the society and art community of Lithuania.
“We hope that ‘The Meeting that Never Was’ will also offer new and diverse views and interpretations of the history of Lithuanian art to the widest possible audience,” says Anders Kreuger, the initiator and co-curator of the exhibition.
Extend your exhibition experience in MOrathon
The MO Museum also invites you to join the MOrathon – two-weekend long cultural festival that accompanies the new exhibition. On October 8 we will be hosting events intended to better understand the context of the exhibition: visitors will be able to participate in the lectures and tours offered by the curators of ‘The Meeting That Never Was’ and other cultural and public figures.
The multifaceted programme of the MOrathon will be complemented by the discussion on progress and sustainability, intended to explore the wider contexts of the exhibition. The discussion is initiated by the Ignitis Group, the major partner of the exhibition, and will be hosted by Milda Mitkutė, the co-founder of Vinted, historian Aurimas Švedas, and Valentas Neviera, the head of sustainability at Ignitis Group. The discussion will be moderated by public relations specialist Mykolas Katkus.
“We believe that in the current context of war, when we see energy used as a weapon, it’s only relevant to talk about the importance of sustainable energy and its significance for long-term change. We are glad that this exhibition offers an opportunity to rethink what we inherited from the 20th century and what needs to be changed. Thanks to our partnership with the MO Museum, we can explore sustainability from different angles and invite communities to join us in conversation. We believe that the art venue is a great place to raise these questions and engage the public in a dialogue about the world around us,” says Valentas Neviera, the head of sustainability at Ignitis Group, the major partner of the exhibition.
On October 15, visitors will be invited to explore the artistic content of the exhibition, meeting artists and joining tours led by MO volunteers. Fans of the book ‘What Are You Looking At?’ should be excited as the MO Museum invited its author Will Gompertz to join the second Saturday of the MOrathon.
The e-guide to the exhibition, offered in Lithuanian, English and – for the first time – Ukrainian, will help you get to know ‘The Meeting That Never Was’ even better, and a quiz specially created for the exhibition will help to find out which of the artists you should meet in person. You can participate in the quiz directly at the MO Museum or online.
‘The Meeting that Never Was’ is curated by an international team: Charles Esche, Anders Kreuger and Gabrielė Radzevičiūtė. The exhibition is coordinated by Marius Armonas and Gabrielė Radzevičiūtė. The architectural concept created by Justinas Dūdėnas.
Partners, patrons and sponsors: Lithuanian Council of Culture, Vilnius City Municipality, Švyturys-Utenos alus, Rewo and Ignitis Group.