Below, Intro to Situation – a series of projects emerging out of personal practices, such us directing an art centre in a former soviet republic, investigating corruption issues and examining relations between the cultural affairs and the systematic proceedings.


Intro to Situation

The artist was involved in establishing an art centre in Vilnius, Lithuania, and directing it from the beginning till the end (2001-2007). Running an art centre as part of the art project was a great challenge and fruitful research within cultural, political and social modules. From cultural activities and art initiatives the project turned into a research with critical attitude on social and political issues concerning bureaucracy and corruption.

"Intro to Situation" is dedicated project to obtained experience and knowledge around Intro art centre practices and processes, and on general situation in East European country of Lithuania.

The Intro art project was executed to explore alternative structures, to retrieve aspects of artistic and cultural experiences, to investigate businesses of shade economies and ceremonial politics (corruption and bureaucracy) of former soviet Republic. Critical attitude towards mythical institutional status in art world, weird positioning of art and art policy in general without having an ordinary art scene and “market” in such pygmy and periphery country as Lithuania, of course, with great inner expectations but remained strong systematic constraints.

This work is carried out through entering the world of (degenerated) business and appropriating its methods, language and strategies, while continuously displacing artist's own subject position. The aim of developing such sovereign structure as an art centre and conducting artistic research was activism and initiatives for actual and live art projects. The place, 1000 sq. meter space, of Intro art centre inclusive 2 art spaces (so called galleries, non-institutionalized approach, artist-run strategy), sonic club and bar area, and website, all in Vilnius old town banged the city from its roots, even though in a way heavily influencing Lithuanian economy by making clown politicians & jacks-in-office dance together! Intro art centre was active in the period of 2003-2007; coherent projects went before and continued after.

Political and economical rates and conflicts were published online. Curiosity situations with Lithuanian authorities, inspections, and services were extremely frequent. Lithuanian State Tax Inspectorate, Lithuanian Financial Crime Investigation Service, Lithuanian Copyright Protection Association Agency, Vilnius Municipality and other institutions were against cultural activities at the site. The Establishment was trying to close the art centre down and stop activities immediately. Local and natural climate for such cultural organisation as Intro was to provide corrupted officers and degenerated Lithuanian bureaucrats with bribes, and learning to talk of their own specific language, which in a way is hardly understandable for conscious people.

Finally Intro art centre has successfully achieved project's goals and was shut down with a great challenge by its founder.

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The artist's blog, called FUCK YOUR GOD, NOT A DOG, expressed just by text, was shut down for public domain by the artist in December 2010, to prevent any income from outside and to preserve memory in general. The project Dievas.eu (dievas transl. from Lith. - god) was run for several years and became fast growing and popular enough to be shut down by the artist for the artistic purpose. This limitation does not affect the process and the result, data is still there. The last public blog post was published about "Memory and Archive".

Dievas.eu: Memory And Archive, 2010, Vygandas Simbelis, online art project.

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Several articles translated by "Google Translate", original documents (two companies (JSC and non-profit organization) registry files, adjudgments, fine bills, etc.), website (www.intro.lt), documentation in various formats (sound, video, photographs, posters, etc.), etc. are part of the Intro project. Continues project by Vygandas Simbelis, from the execution of the art centre in 2000 till 2007 and after - the project became an archive and all documents are part of the "Intro art project".

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Several extracts from the artist's blog are being printed and processed by Google Translate, and Eastern European experience being published (the poetic Lithuanian word was translated with Google Translate):

"How to take care of business and citizens in the State of Lithuania

Came a clerk from the Municipality of Vilnius, from some kind of Order Department. I have met him before, so did not stress too much and even did not think about calls for a bribe, but later I realized that the bribe proposal would definitely worth it.
He came and checked, said well, all is good here, only one paper here is expired validity, but you will extend it and you will be fine. Well, I think there is nothing he told me serious, and I'll handle it. But it did not appear in any process, because even initiated the process, took up all manner of inspecting instance: hygiene, veterinary, fire, neighborhood representatives, the economic police, tax administration, and many of them, and they went after a few per day, go to the same instance of each day, for example: Monday - charges before noon on Tuesday - hygiene control afternoon - the economic police on Wednesday before noon - veterinary, hygiene and again after midnight, Thursday noon - Labour Inspectorate, the afternoon - a simple police, well, and so on.
(...)
This beautiful here that we Lithuania, diligent country. Let's save it for future generations.
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"I know the article and narrative around it, but I hardly do understand this Google Translate text either. But the most important is the emotional feeling and experience of text. And the general idea is readable in between the lines." - comments the artist. The rough Google translation was chosen and used for presenting the text on issues of corruption and illegal acts of local authority members in Lithuania. Physical mysterious actions of local corrupted officers are being reflected to the hardly understandable translation of this article.

In the near future this text will be spammed to Lithuanian and European institutional personas as part of the spam art project "How to take care".

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The series of Correct Vice photographs, part of Intro art project, 2007.

Photographic project is about the quality of an image and the content: the worst and the high, the low and the best. Documentary scenes have been produced in the Intro art centre's music club premises. The photographs represent vitality of the site in its most natural way.

Local authorities have possess just simplified position about art centre's activities - without any commentaries on artistic and cultural levels. Let's give them back what they deserve and want, how they understand and of course in their own manner! Their non-understandable policies and logics, and corrupted languages, are compared with artistic qualities and are defamiliarised with the concepts of low intellectual properties such as hardly readable Google Translate featured texts, blurry snapshots, low quality images, low-res, old cameras, decomposed sceneries, etc. The collection and selections were made of the worst imagery taken from the Intro documentary archives.

The postcards with Correct Vice photographs and text on the other side - "Emigrate and start loving your Motherland again" (Lith. trans. - "Emigruok ir pamilk Tėvynę iš naujo"). The postcards will be send to a major Lithuanian Establishment by snail-post.

A link to photography series. And of course, check them here below.