This article explores how audience participation practices were introduced into Lithuanian theatre in the last three decades (between the early ‘90s and the late 2010s) and how the audience participation methods of the 1960s Western theatre are/were being implemented into contemporary Lithuanian theatre projects. The key goal of this article is to examine the evolution of audience participation and collective theatre tradition in Lithuanian theatre by analysing the preconditions for participatory practices in the country’s theatre scene and defining the scope and contradictions of participation in the latest examples of contemporary Lithuanian theatre practices. These contradictions are also apparent in contemporary Western performative practices, which have already distanced themselves from the collective theatre movement of the ‘60s and the ‘70s and the political agenda of the performances of that time, selectively retaining only limited participatory aspects of the environmental theatre culture as a new form of entertainment. Similar limited levels of participation in Lithuanian theatre can be based on a different premise—that changes in spectators’ habitude cannot catch up with the newly (re)introduced theatrical ideas after the 1990s, and that theatre creators are still trying to cautiously synchronise conventional observation tactics and modern theatre hierarchies with the interactive ones, thus slowing down changes in staging and spectatorship strategies as well.
The article focuses on academic texts by Lithuanian theatre researchers Ramunė Balevičiūtė, Rasa Vasinauskaitė, Rūta Mažeikienė, Jurgita Staniškytė, Vaidas Jauniškis, Lina Michelkevičė, and others to illustrate the discourse of audience participation analysis and to present different stages of the participatory tradition in the historiography of Lithuanian theatre. For international context, history, and mechanics of audience participation, texts by Erika Fischer-Lichte, Michael Kirby, Richard Schechner, Gareth White, Gay McAuley, Johan Huizinga, and others are used.
The article employs concepts of time lag, inspired by Ernst Bloch, and ghost and haunting, borrowed from Jacques Derrida. It also draws on Svetlana Boym’s and Vilém Flusser’s vision of the émigré and on Dominick LaCapra’s and Slavoj Žižek’s interpretations of trauma. The analysis is also informed by Karen Jürs-Munby’s and Cathy Caruth’s views on trauma and its representation in theatre.
This critical apparatus is put into motion in the particular context of BANDIT: a theatre project developed in the UK by two Romanian émigré theatre-makers. The main focus is on exposing links between the references to trauma contained in the theatre piece BANDIT and the makers’ self-imposed artistic exile in the UK. The article seeks to answer the following question: what has pushed us, the makers of BANDIT, to leave our native country and what is our (new) role (as artists) in the country of emigration? The discussion is carried out within the wider context of the vast waves of Romanian emigration to Western Europe (after the fall of the Iron Curtain). The article critiques the troublesome relation of the contemporary Romanian society to its Communist past and the apparent inability and/or unwillingness to deal with the repressed/traumatic memories of that past. Analysis of BANDIT as performance of lingering trauma also references the historical Percentages agreement between Stalin and Churchill—the informal agreement that established spheres of influence in Europe at the end of the Second World War. Identifying the Iron Curtain as the epicentre of traumatic memory for Eastern Europeans, the discussion about BANDIT also makes a reference to Communist crimes against political prisoners committed in Romanian prisons in 1951–1952, put in parallel with the toxic EU referendum campaign in the UK in 2016. Underpinned by Derrida’s thinking, the article explains how the Romanian émigré-artist (as a paragon of the Romanian / Eastern European émigré in general) has to fashion herself into a ghost that haunts the adoptive culture, using artistic exile as a platform for processing the traumatic memories of an unresolved past.
Lithuanian theatre has always been known for its visual metaphors and dramaturgy of directorial images, where the language of literary text is translated into visual metaphors created on stage by a director. Due to this quality, some critics have argued that Lithuanian theatre has been demonstrating postdramatic characteristics for a long time. However, one should note that visual metaphors of modern Lithuanian theatre have been based on and controlled by literary text and never quite established a more autonomous and self-contained visuality. Dramatic text remained the point of departure whether the director chose to illustrate or concretise it, to transform or deform it. However, in post-Soviet Lithuanian theatre, these relations have been gradually turning discontinuous, their intensity often varied within the framework of the same performance. Fragmentary cracks, when images, departed from the roles of commentators or illustrators of textual meanings, turned into flashes of independent visions that were seen by the critics as an obvious shift towards a radical image-centric position or, to use the term of Hans-Thies Lehmann, postdramatic theatre. However, the recent performance Lokis (2017, Lithuanian National Drama Theatre) by Polish theatre artist Lukasz Twarkowski, produced twenty years after the initial introduction of the term postdramatic into the Lithuanian context, has paradoxically started a storm of divisive opinions in the Lithuanian theatre milieu. It became the focal point of discussions about the intrinsic character of Lithuanian theatre, especially its embedded attitudes towards drama text and acting—notoriously challenging factors for many international collaborations. The article analyses the ongoing debates about the term postdramatic theatre and its interpretations in Lithuanian theatre criticism, taking the example of Lokis as a case study.
For the purpose of my examination of how literature and art take part in the circulation of significations and representations in the construction of social reality, I concentrate on a specific feature that links and unites the work of four contemporary European authors—the inflation of death and violence, or the “overflow of corpses” in their novels, plays, and performances. My first example will be Bosnian-Croatian theatre director Oliver Frljić, his disturbing, shocking performances in which he uses his own personal, wartime, and political traumas to ask universal questions about the boundaries of artistic and social freedom, individual and collective responsibility, tolerance and stereotypes. As the second and third example I will take plays by two (no longer) dramatic writers, Anja Hilling and Simona Semenič—two outstanding representatives of German and Slovene (no longer) dramatic theatre and drama, exploring in their texts a tension between repetition and representation in which the first mechanism undermines and challenges the second and produces a specific poetic or aesthetic device—an effect of ostranenie or defamiliarisation (Shklovsky). The third example will consist of the novels by Winfried Georg Sebald, in which the German author uses the device of his wanderings between signs, punctuated by black and white photographs, producing a specific emblematic of a mutation of space and time, in which history and geography cross-fertilise, tracing out paths and weaving networks. Besides examining the contestation of subject positions, I concentrate on the dialectics of art and society, where fluid, uncontainable subjects are constantly pushing the contours. Revising the critical consensus that contemporary art primarily engages with the real, the essay describes how theatre and fiction today navigate the complexities of the discourse as well as social realities; how the discussed artists all share the belief that creative expression must also be destruction. Art has to go beyond what we are and what we can identify through understanding. Thus, art negotiates, inflects discursive circulation of stories, idioms, controversies, testimonies, and pieces of (mis)information in the face of global uncertainties.
This article deals with the Matrix theory of subjectivity, gaze, and desire by feminist scholar Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger. Matrixial framework is explored in comparison to Lacanian psychoanalysis. The essay denotes the differences between split Lacanian model of the subject and Matrixial subjectivity based on plurality and continuity. I argue that Lacanian model which grounds the subject in fundamental lack and loss of corporal reality is insufficient for explaining specifically feminine experience in terms of temporality and collective memory, whereas the Matrix theory provides a conceptual apparatus for positive female identification and alliances between the past and the present. Ettinger’s Matrixial model is applied in the analysis of the 2012 video The Meeting by contemporary Lithuanian artist Kristina Inčiūraitė. I claim that the mode of desire in The Meeting is based on Matrixial gaze, which allows to formulate memory as co-created by two partners who share archaic knowledge of the Real, grounded in common relation to female sexual difference and intrauterine condition. Therefore, the article interprets the imagery of the town of Svetlogorsk in the video as coemerged mental images that affect each of the partners. I conclude that the Matrix theory overcomes the phallocentrism of classical psychoanalysis, allowing to reformulate the subject in terms of connectivity, compassion, and abilities to process Other’s trauma through positive cultural change.
The most common technological device found in organisations of cultural heritage is a handheld guide. This device can simultaneously perform several functions, and its integration in permanent expositions has significance both for the operation of organisations of cultural heritage and experience of visitors when they visit a museum or a gallery. It should be noted that art museums and galleries encounter a task to present often static and difficult to understand at first sight works of art in an interesting fashion. Therefore, in this study, the main functions of a handheld guide as a technological device as well as its benefits, problems, and application in art museums are analysed.
In the first part of the study, various functions of handheld guides, their importance, the meaning produced for the organisation of cultural heritage, and experience of a visitor are analysed based on scientific literature. Problems of integration of handheld guides and strategic steps that should be taken to ensure a successful integration process are reviewed. In the second part, four cases of Lithuanian art museums are presented. All museums that participated in the survey were analysed by collecting observational data, communicating with the managers of the organisations, and analysing the experience of museum visitors using the handheld guide.
Scientific literature presented in the article substantiates the importance of handheld guides in museums and possible problems of integration of such devices. The study conducted in Lithuanian art museums reveals the fact that handheld guides are significant devices that help improve the experience of a museum visitor, but it is also observed that handheld guides have not yet become an integral part of a visit to a Lithuanian art museum.
Chandeliers with serpent arms held at the National Museum of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Art Museum are among the earliest found in Lithuania. Previous efforts to find chandeliers of similar décor in Latvia or Poland while collecting material on lighting fixtures in Lithuania and the neighbouring countries were unsuccessful. Due to that reason, it was thought that the spread of these chandeliers of extraordinary décor was limited to the territory of Lithuania. A closer and more thorough look into collections of Western European museums has revealed that the motif of an elegantly coiled snake on chandelier arms should be related to Hans Rogiers, a founder who worked in Amsterdam in 1598–1638.
In the article, the origin of chandeliers with serpent arms in Western Europe and the ways they could have possibly reached Lithuania are traced back for the first time. Specimens that survived or did not survive in Lithuania, their development and problems of dating are analysed. Their functioning space is explored and the subject of their symbolism is addressed. The article aims to present and evaluate the surviving chandeliers with serpent arms in Lithuania. In the research, instruments of formal, comparative, iconographic, and reconstructive analysis were used.
This article’s aim is to demonstrate the secession décor’s implementation in manor house interiors throughout Lithuania. Secession style is very different from historicist styles and was popular for a short period of time, which is why it did not gain popularity in all Europe. This organic style is usually closely related to urban culture, but, in the past, the main cultural life in Lithuania developed in manors. Nevertheless, secession style décor and interior design was not as popular in manor houses as in city buildings. Because of that, all details and elements of secession style are very important for Lithuania’s cultural heritage. Several examples from Renavas, Rokiškis, Gelgaudiškis, Paežeriai, Burbiškis, and Šešuolėliai manor residences’ interiors show how secession style was created in Lithuanian countryside. The new style brought changes, such as asymmetric facades, new floor plans and perception of private space, and new interior décor. Iconographic material of secession style décor elements in interiors of Lithuania is rare, but, by combining it with historical, art, and polychromic research, it is possible to describe the details of secession style in the interiors of Lithuanian manor houses.
After the proclamation of the Republic of Latvia in 1918, Latvia experienced a rapid influx of youth into its capital city of Riga, looking to obtain education in universities. Students began to build their academic lives and student societies. In 1923, students of the Art Academy of Latvia founded the “Dzintarzeme” (“Amberland”) fraternity. The aim of “Dzintarzeme” was to unite nationally minded students of the Art Academy of Latvia and to promote the development of national art and self-education. Most “Dzintarzeme” members were faithful to the old masters and Latvian art. This phenomenon is significant, because “Dzintarzeme” members grew up with Latvian painting traditions, which are a remarkable heritage of interwar Latvia.
In 1940, when Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union, “Dzintarzeme” was banned. A part of “Dzintarzeme” members were deported, killed in war, went missing, or stayed in the Latvian SSR; the remaining chose exile. Although scattered throughout the United States of America, Canada, and Australia, some members were able to rebuild and sustain the fraternity’s life, gathering its members, organising trips and anniversary art exhibitions.
The aim of this research is to reflect on “Dzintarzeme’s” activities in exile (1958–1987), focusing on the main factors of Latvian national art conservation policy: first, the ability of “Dzintarzeme’s” ideology to preserve the values of Latvian national art in an international environment, and second, the problem of generational change and the enrollment of young Latvian artists who continued to maintain “Dzintarzeme” values in exile.
This article is dedicated to the “Baltars” collective porcelain painting workshop (1924–1930), founded in Riga, Latvia by three modernist artists: painters Romans Suta (1896–1944) and Aleksandra Beļcova (1892–1981) and graphic artist Sigismunds Vidbergs (1890–1970).The “Baltars” phenomenon is significant because of the innovations that the artists brought to the landscape of Latvian porcelain manufacturing and its exhibition activities in the 1920s and the early 1930s, both local and in the Baltic Sea region—Lithuania, Estonia, and Sweden. The article investigates “Baltars” foundation and closure, artistic activities of the company, its attempts to enter the international art and trade scene, and its accomplishments. Special attention is paid to the amalgamation of modernisation, nationalism, and state-building manifested in their paintings on porcelain. Due to the present growing interest in porcelain art in Latvia, triggered by numerous exhibitions and publications, discourse on the “Baltars” phenomenon has become topical.