In Pictures: Vilnius’s Modern Art Museum Marks the 700th Anniversary of the Lithuanian Capital With a Show on Post-Soviet Psychology

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As part of city-wide celebrations for the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, the MO Museum—the Lithuanian capital’s modern art hub—has put on a special showcase of contemporary art that invites audiences to time travel to the 1980s and trace Vilnius’s transformation since the late Soviet era.

This show brings together 150 works, ranging from visual art to text and sound, to immerse visitors in the creative vision of theater director Oskaras Koršunovas and set designer Gintaras Makarevičius.

The exhibition is named after and inspired by Ričardas Gavelis’s oppressive 1989 novel , a masterpiece of Lithuanian literature that takes the city as its protagonist at a time when its citizens are dealing with the psychological fallout from a collapsing Soviet system. Its publication was a turning point for the country’s creative and cultural liberation, and now this exhibition explores the developments of the decades since and the evolving identity of Vilnius today and tomorrow.

The range of work on show includes pieces from the 1960s up to the present moment that reflect on the novel’s evergreen themes of freedom, identity and memory.

“The novel depicts Vilnius as an intricate, chaotic, dream-like city with nothing specific or real. This was the starting point in creating the exhibition, which is designed like a universal tale, not limited to a specific place or time period,” explained the museum director Milda Ivanauskienė.

“Vilnius Poker” runs at MO Museum until January 28, 2024. Check out some of the works from the exhibition below.

Rūta Spelskytė-Liberienė, (2019) in the “Vilnius Poker” exhibition at the MO Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo courtesy of Go Vilnius.

Installation view of “Vilnius Poker” exhibition at the MO Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo courtesy of Go Vilnius.

Installation view of “Vilnius Poker” exhibition at the MO Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania showing Nerijus Erminas, That Which Is Unseen (2013). Photo courtesy of Go Vilnius.

Installation view of Vytautas Tomaševičius, (2020) at the “Vilnius Poker” exhibition at the MO Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo courtesy of Go Vilnius.

Rimantas Milkintas, (2017) at the “Vilnius Poker” exhibition at the MO Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo courtesy of Go Vilnius.

Mindaugas Skudutis, (2022) at the “Vilnius Poker” exhibition at the MO Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo courtesy of Go Vilnius.

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