Projects on institutional critique in the context of contemporary art practice:


Collaborative performance with Evaldas Stankevičius - Loop Reference.

The referent - of the defence ceremony for the practice-based research art project Toys and Games of Vygandas Simbelis achieving Master degree in Vilnius Art Academy - E. Stankevičius, a deputy director of Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius (CAC), accomplished an artistic performance according to an institutional critique in academic surroundings. By repeatedly reading the same short abstract theoretical text several times (the idea was to loop the reference as long as possible) till evaluation committee members shut him down. The committee shut the performance down after several loop readings.

More on performance and series


Academia Nature Morte

The photographic series and appropriations of already made, constructed and composed still lifes was a surprisingly strong flashback to my previous personal experience within an academic art environment. Educated as a traditional artist in a strong academic manner, for long I have been experiencing the power of drawing and painting still lifes. It was a substantially strong tradition in academia and I experienced it from my young days at art schools, art college and art academy.

This documentation is taken during my doctorate studies at Vilnius Academy of Art, Lithuania, in the period of 2007-2009. These are still lives constructed by professors in the painting department. It is a representation of this institution through the educational principles preserving its historical heritage and through the practice of still life - a work of art depicting inanimate subject matter. The title of the project is metaphorical and could be paraphrased into Stagnated Academic Life.

Academia Nature Morte / Academic Still Life, photography series printed on archival paper, 2007-2009. Each photograph is accompanied by a student's study painting of the same still-life.

More: photography series


Being Background

The project Being Background examines the concept of institutional critique in the realm of art institutions being hacked and occupied by the artist without the establishment noticing and knowing about such art acts happening in their spaces. The project is executed in the major art institutions and a series of photographs together with a film is produced by documenting the interventional performances.

The iconic (and ironic) art institutional plain environment does not appeal to creativity but instead invites artists for creating critical situations through which compromises between academic and market segments may appear. Nowadays enforcement and formal organizations do collapse, a white cube phenomenon mingled with a black box, walls of museums vanished, boundaries between different art media disappeared, archives went online, and even photographing in museum became a norm, probably touching of an exhibit is already allowed, and even stealing of a masterpiece is most likely welcomed – just for the reason to promote the museum. Art institutions got systematically stuck in their own policy-making and preserving old structures and mechanisms, the fake names and kitschy works from meta-creative pollution. Belonging to an institutional discourse in a way means the disappearance of artistic private and personal data beyond any comparison. In the Being Background project, the white camouflage comes into consideration for being invisible in the institutional milieu of the art world’s "white cube". And the artist’s separation from it with a purpose for researching and identifying institutional periphery with many stark situations is seen as a disruption and hack.

Disappearance in the white background was first time gained and successfully realized at the interventional performance for artists’ community at Ice Hotel in Kiruna, Sweden. Art residency, located several hundred kilometres behind the Arctic Circle, and local Lapland surroundings were covered with a complete white. The project started with the video documentation of the performance and photography series was produced in the residential period as well as interventions in the wild/public space were performed. The second attempt and masterpieces of the Being Background project were executed by hacking "white cube" spaces of major art organizations and it became a great adventure for the artist deconstructing the institutional phenomenon.

The project also speaks about the importance of turning the background metaphor upfront, as in this context the less important things stand out. From art history, we also know how landscape format changed the portrait, how noise music was born turning the focus from main subjects into "failures", how the state of "nothing" is seen as a condition filled with everything we filtering out, etc.

"Occupy Museums"-type of interventions in Moderna Museet, National Museum, Magasin3, Liljevalchs and Fotografiska Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
The performance in Ice Hotel, performances in public spaces of Kiruna, Sweden, 2010.
The interventional performances in major art institutions of Stockholm, Sweden, 2011.
Exhibition in Mejan gallery, Stockholm, Sweden, 2011.

Digital photographs, slideshow, 16:9, 2011.
Film, documentation of performative intervention, HD, 6'48'', 2011.
Printed and framed c-print photographs, 90x120, 2012.

Link to photography series.