Object 1 (Slide) by Evelina Simkute, 2012
Stainless steel 255 × 196 × 80 cm
Stainless steel replica of a slide from a council estate in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Object 2 (Pit) by Evelina Simkute, 2012
Concrete, wood, polystyrene
150 × 35 × 90 cm
Replica of an object found on a council estate in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Object 4 (Circle) by Evelina Simkute, 2016
Object 4 (Circle), 2016
Object 5, 2016
From Sculpture Series Objects
Evelina Šimkutė’s exhibition can be seen as a very material research of the changing Šilainiai microdistrict in a broader cultural, social, urban sense. This research activates memory, carrying out copies of specific objects from neglected Soviet children’s playground as a monument to the utopian idealistic past and unknown present. These copies are fresh, polished, allowing these disappearing objects to go back to their primary physical state; having come from London to Kaunas or molded here; gaining meaning when relocated to a closed sterile space. New relations are found between the material and context: the sculptures embody decay as well as deny it, also marking a constant change of reality, memories, place.
The sculpture cycle Objects was born in 2012 from author’s geographical distance between native Šilainiai and London. In this observation from distance transformations of memory and identity took place, from which author’s personal memories became copies of reality existing before. These copies in the exhibition also revive collective (post)soviet experiences of different generations spanning further than Šilainiai and Kaunas.
The creative work of Evelina Šimkutė (b. 1985) acts in the field of visual art and curatorial practice and is based on the research of space and time. In 2012 an author graduated from the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Objects in Kabinetas project space is the first personal exhibition in Lithuania of the artist currently working between London and Kaunas. The author is also leading two socio-cultural projects based on the practice of de-centralization: Šilainiai Photo and Šilainiai Project in the micro-district of Šilainiai, Kaunas.
V. Stepanovaitė, 2016
Artist Statement (2016)
I am a visual artist working with sculpture, photography and performance. My inspiration comes from the Šilainiai estate in Kaunas, Lithuania. I document and recreate objects and situations found there.
It is important for me to work with my bare hands, in contrast to the mass-produced nature of the original objects. The main materials I use are wood, concrete and steel, as I am recreating objects from the estate in their original form, function and material. By doing this I am translating and preserving my memories and relationships with the site.
I grew up in Šilainiai. My family was among the first occupants in the estate and it has become part of me as if it was an extension of my body. It has changed dramatically since I was a child and I try to examine those changes. The objects and places that I investigate have either been reclaimed by nature or lost their purpose after being broken and forgotten.
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
BA Fine Art Degree Show 2012
My work is grounded in aspects of site, land, and notions of home. My degree show presentation is rooted in the material reality of a real place, in a real town, in Lithuania. This place is where I spent my formative years and has been carried in my imagination for some time. Of course, because the carrier of this real place has been my memory (and to some extent, a memory subject to my transformative imagination) it is no longer a real place at all.
I have therefore felt obliged to recreate some aspects of this place in order to perform another act of the imagination. The recreations in my show are props from this theatre of my memory. The props are distinctly material (and sculptural) in form, precisely because they are images of a material reality forged from somewhere in the real world. The props are an aggregate of images drawn from the real world, but this aggregation means that they cant exist in any real spatio-temporal sense. Their aggregation means they exist merely as signifiers, which only begin to mean something when performed ‘upon’ or used in a theatrical art-life play.
This real place world, in Lithuania (a country with a difficult history, its borders contested throughout the centuries), is a playground attached to a council estate. In terms of the architecture, the material reality of the playground formed a space for children to play amidst the modernist vision of a Soviet Socialist Utopia. The images that I am drawing upon (the material reality and that which uses my imagination) countenance the decay, decline and ruin of this Utopian vision.
For the past four years I have been photographing this site in the hope that it might generate some artistic mediation. In many ways, my performance (in relation to the sculpture-props) is a way of making an intervention towards this mediation. With this intervention, I am trying to arrange some poetic redemption of social decline by aestheticising the tragic disappointment of a shattered Utopian vision. My performance, I believe, approaches something of a Sisyphean task. The chalk drawings I make, like a portrait in the sand at the edge of the sea, will have to be drawn and redrawn in a never ending play of resistance against disappearance. The performance is a visual lament; an elegiac response to the objects (props) that I have ‘brought back’ from Silainai council estate in Kaunas, Lithuania. Children’s pavement drawings, often made in chalk, signify an act of play, which transforms the site of play into a child’s imaginarium. Children draw two-dimensional rooms (and hopscotch tables etc) that are both triggered by, and ignorant of, the playgrounds already imagined architectural utopia. Chalk remnants, left behind on the floor, are a signifier of the transformative and creative pleasure that children have.
Although the original playground is around 25 years old, due to lack of investment and the complex politics of recent Lithuania, only the first generation of children, brought up on the Estate, were fortunate enough to play out the Utopian ideal. For future generations of Estate kids, the playground apparatus stand as ruinous monuments to an ideal past and unknown future.
Although I cannot redress the politics, in any real sense, my performance aims to engage with the politics of an identity formed from the specifics of this site. The precious rendering (polished surface) of the redeemed (brought back) objects protects them from the forces of entropy and enables future generations to engage with play in the realm of my imagination. Here, the apparatus is perpetually beautiful, pristine and new. My performance, part gift; part grotesque lamentation for a generation deprived of the social bond this now ruined playground promised, is a ritualistic act aimed at the continuum of memory and forgetting.