Šilainiai [Paris] Project

July 14d. 18:00

Address: Žemaičių pl. 25, Kaunas (open air space)

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1682659805372399/?active_tab=about

Event partners – Kaunas Fortress Park and „Kaunas 2022“

Paryzius Silainiuose

Description (Lithuanian only)

Paminėti Bastilijos šturmą ir paskelbti manifestą apie kūrybinę laisvę miegamajame mikrorajone – įkvėpti vietos kūrėjus ir gyventojus kūrybiškai kaimynystei ir dialogui. Mums rūpi ši vieta, mes čia gyvename, tai mūsų bendras kiemas!

Nesvarbu koks tavo amžius, išsilavimimas, specialybė, socialinė padėti – mes visi esame šilainiškiai, laisvo miesto gyventojai.

Vieną dieną metuose prisimeneam tai, ir sakome, kad mes visi esame!

Esame vienas šalia kitų,

Esame tai kuo norime būti,

Aš esu kaunietis, lietuvis, menininkas, mokytojas, studentas, prekiautojas, svajotojas…

Je suis Parisiens!

Gali būti ir vieta ir laikas. Čia buvo Paryžius. Čia yra Paryžius! Vieta nebėra tokia konkreti. Ji nėra matoma. Tačiau čia yra šiek tiek vietos. Ir ši vieta yra paremta kartografiniais šaltiniais. Tai yra beveik tiesa! Kodėl reikia paminėti Bastilijos dieną? Griauti Šilainių, kaip kalėjimo įvaizdį, kuriame žmonės tarsi gyvena ne savo noru. Iš Paryžiaus idėjos gimsta Bastilijos diena: Šilainių, kaip sovietinio mikrorajono stereotipo įveika (blokinis kvartalas, kaip vizualus simbolis – primenantis kalėjimą – tvirtovę – Bastilija: slegiantis gyvenamosios kasdienybės vaizdinys). Todėl Bastilijos paėmimo – šturmo diena, ne fiziškai, tačiau kūrybiškai griauną stereotipą – mes manome, jog poveikis, kurį gali kultūrinė bendruomenės įtrauktis gali esmingai pakeisti mikrorajono gyventojų požiūrį į vietą, kurioje gyvena; o bendruomeniško susitelkimo jausmas, ugdant kūrybiškumą ir populiarinant meninę veiklą.

Pranešti apie vietą – buvusį Paryžiaus kaimą (1862m. žemėlapis, rašytinai šaltiniai – 1853m.).

 

Manifestas

DĖL BASTILIJOS DIENOS

Mes, Šilainių Projekto laisvieji menininkai ir mąstytojai,
Atviro komunikacijos lauko inžinieriai,
Vedami išsivadavimo iš erdvės
į atvirus komunalinius kiemus,
Skelbiame,
jog Bastilijos šturmas yra būtinas ir neišvengiamas.
Paryžius bus išvaduotas
nuo sovietinio blokinio absoliuto,
ir sukils į artistinę kovą prieš miegančius milžinus.
Maištaujanti kūryba nuspalvins pilkumas ir niūrastis,
žaismas tokios bendrystės ir beprotystės
niekada nebus nugalėtas įpročio ir kasdienybės!

The European Capital of Culture 2022 – Kaunas!

Kaunas2022

Image: judges visiting Šilainiai Project last month. Artwork by local artists Lukas Šiupsinskas (sculpture) and Tadas Šimkus (drawings).

Kaunas has been declared the European Capital of Culture for 2022. 

At this point I would very much like to thank the most resilient, hardworking home team, my creative colleagues and everyone who supported Šilainiai Project through it’s first couple of years. It has been a surreal experience and I cannot wait to start this new chapter for the project.

Next five years the activities in Šilainiai will continue and expand into other neighborhoods. I am very pleased that Šilainiai Project was one of the inspirations for ‘Fluxus Labs’ that are part of Kaunas 2022 programme.

“The Fluxus Lab, involving both local inhabitants and international cultural workers, are state of the art of creative participatory neighbourhood development.” – The Selection Panel’s report Final report, available: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/creative-europe/sites/creative-europe/files/ecoc-2022-lithuania-selection-report_en.pdf

This is a huge challenge and an immense opportunity, that can only be achieved by working together. So let’s start a conversation: https://www.facebook.com/FluxusLabs/

 

ARTICLE IN ESTONIAN URBANISTS´ REVIEW U

KAUNAS – PRESERVING, REDEFINING, REVIVING LITHUANIA’S FORMER CAPITAL

by WILL MAWHOOD

Rethinking a neglected sleeping district
with Evelina Šimkutė

Playground by Evelina Simkute, 2012

Playground by Evelina Simkute, 2012

Much like all other large cities in the Baltics, Kaunas was very different at the start of the Soviet occupation from at the end. Soviet planning moulded, reshaped and greatly expanded the city, and their parting legacy to the city was the sprawling residential district of Šilainiai. Constructed in the ‘80s on a hill remote from the city centre overlooking the River Neris, its towers provide a home for over 70,000 people. The district, like many Soviet-era projects elsewhere, is often dismissed and demonised by those who focus on its grey, frequently dilapidated appearance and impression of monotony and neglect. But for artist Evelina Šimkutė, who was born and grew up in Šilainiai and has recently returned to live there after more than a decade in London, it’s an inspiration and a muse – and making the most of the creativity of the people who live there is her passion. As well as using the district in her artworks, Šimkutė organises photo walks and workshops for local people, and has recently started a residency programme, enabling artists from elsewhere to spend time working in Šilainiai.

Can you talk me through what led you to set up the project?

I grew up in Šilainiai and as an artist I have always been inspired by the site. I was documenting life in Šilainiai for eight years via photography and, whilst living in London, I also made series of sculptures, installations and videos about it. Each time I went back I saw changes and felt it was important to capture them. Nobody else was doing it.

So I started talking to the local residents. Senior residents were happy to share their eye-witness accounts of what the site was like before Šilainiai district was built, and those life-changing stories encouraged me to “dig deeper” – capture, archive, present, and start a conversation. Before the development of the panel-housing district in the ’80s, Šilainiai was considered to be a countryside on the outskirts of Kaunas, with small villages and two large townhouses (Linkuvos andSargėnų dvaras) with vineyards and beautiful gardens. Noblemen of the time used to spend their summers there.

I knew that if I didn‘t do something, very soon these stories would be lost. So I started running photography workshops in local schools and held public photo-walks in Šilainiai, where I met a lot of incredibly talented and driven young people. I learnt about the lack of encouragement and appreciation for their creativity, lack of platforms to share their work and ideas. Also, people who lived in Šilainiai for many years, expressed the wish for “somewhere to go locally”, and for accessible cultural activities in the area where they lived.

There are about 55,000 residents in Šilainiai, but no cultural centre. The library is the only non-commercial place to meet. As a result, this summer I set up a series of activities both in public space of Šilainiai and in the library: artist talks, screenings, performances, walks, exhibitions, poetry readings… Artists from different parts of the world came to live and work in Šilainiai. And so the project started.

What are things you’re particularly proud in achieving?

I am particularly proud of the conversations that have been developed with the local community. Some extremely important themes have surfaced, starting with notions of home, emigration, value of creativity for self-identity. I hope to delve into them deeper next year. Also, I feel very humbled that the project has inspired creativity among the local community.

A series of brand new works – paintings, poetry and other texts have been created. And most importantly – I am very happy for the new connections made – between myself and local residents, as well as connections between different creative people in Šilainiai, Kaunas and nationwide. It is very special to observe new friendships or creative partnerships forming.

What is the impression that people in Kaunas have of Šilainiai? How are you trying to change that (if you are)?

I guess people in Kaunas might see Šilainiai as a grey sleeping district with lots of shops where nothing much happens.

I am genuinely curious about the district: what was here before it was built? How did it look like? Who lived here? What was going on? Who lives here now? How is it changing? Why? What is happening now? What is not happening? Why? How can we use this site for creativity? What work does it inspire? And so on.

What can Kaunas offer that other cities in Lithuania (or elsewhere) can’t?

Kaunas can be old-fashioned and progressive at the same time, there are a lot of clashes of ideas, styles and layers of history, it is a little bit quirky and raw and that’s what makes it unique. It is honest and real. It is surprising for those, who take time to know it. It takes time to know it. It is grey and green. This constant state of flux, the vibrancy and the urgency makes it inspiring.

I get a sense that Kaunas is reviving after a long period of being in Vilnius’s shadow. Would you agree with this?

I do remember having to constantly travel to Vilnius to see movies or exhibitions and it did seem that the cultural investments were made into the capital “by default”. Young people wanted to move there to study, work and live. But the situation has changed dramatically in the past ten years. There are a lot of progressive, innovative and creative people living in Kaunas who know the town inside out, who are embracing and reviving it. It is very exciting to be in Kaunas right now.

Full article: http://www.urban.ee/issue/en/19#

Institute for Public Art-Research Network meeting

I am currently attending Institute for Public Art-Research Network meeting in China, where I’ve been invited to talk about my work in Kaunas. I am very grateful to College of Fine Arts, Shanghai University for the opportunity to share my work and meet colleagues who share the passion for public art. You may read an abstract from my speech below.

 

‘Šilainiai Project’: Connecting people and places through art

 

The microdistrict of Šilainiai is the largest residential complex in the city of Kaunas, Lithuania. Built in 1980s, the area and its residents make up more than 50,000 people, however there are currently no space or centre for cultural events or activities. The local library is the only non-commercial space for residents to come together or to have any sense of a community gathering. They usually have to travel to the town centre or the countryside in order to spend any leisurely time.

 

During my research into the history of Šilainiai, I had discovered a large number of creative people living and producing work within this area, but later found out that none of them had any recognition whatsoever. I found that young people of whom desire to follow a creative path were unable to pursue their ambitions, due to the lack of support and space for them to practice and share ideas. Even a larger number of residents who simply want to engage in activities closer to home or after work, there is no place for. Having lived in Šilainiai myself, I have noticed that the people within this district have become disconnected and the communities fragmented.

 

In 2015, I started the ‘Šilainiai Project’ in order to address some of these issues. The project has 5 branches of activity:

 

• Šilainiai Archive

• Walks and Talks

• Events in Unconventional Spaces

• Workshops

• Artist Residences

 

The project is ongoing, but already some positive changes have came as a result, e.g. A growing number of people actively participating in local events, new creative support networks being formed, abandoned and unused spaces are being utilised for creative activities and new artworks inspired by Šilainiai are being created. What is also important is that the volunteers and team members from this project are all developing the talents within their field as well as learning new skill sets via practice and social interaction. But what I found most interesting and rewarding at the same time, is that the residents of Šilainiai are starting to reconnect and are finding new connections with the place they live in. Through creative activities, they have the opportunity to re-examine their personal histories and the relationships they have with this place.

This process can affect each and every person in a different way. It can evoke such feelings of nostalgia, curiosity or even be part of the healing process from past trauma. This is invaluable for each participant as they in return will be a lot more connected, encouraged, inspired, and ultimately content living in Šilainiai, and that is a lot.

 

Since the start of this project, culture de-centralisation and better access to cultural activities has become an important part of the official strategy within the culture sector for the city of Kaunas.

Fundraising for 2017

evelina-simkute-2016-silainiai-project

Photograph by Artūras Bulota

I invite you all to support the continuation of an amazing, community based art project in Šilainiai post-war housing estate in Kaunas (LT). In 2016, with minimal resources I was able to organise a global artist residence in the neighbourhood, several exhibitions, public walks introducing residents to their seemingly generic but actually extremely diverse community, poetry readings and photography workshops. I would like to continue doing amazing things for the community in 2017 too! Please support and/or share. Thank you very much.

https://www.gofundme.com/silainiai

Kind regards, Evelina

In the press

Šilainiai Project was extensively covered by Lithuanian press this year. Here are a few highlights. More radio and TV interviews you may find in the Press section.

Publications

Evelinos Šimkutės Šilainiai – balta drobė kūrybai. Kaunas pilnas kultūros. December 2016. Online: http://pilnas.kaunas.lt/2016/12/14/evelinos-simkutes-silainiai-balta-drobe-kurybai/

Audronė Meškauskaitė, Gyvenimą keičiantis menas. 2016 11 24 – 2016 12 07. Nemunas, Nr. 20 (980) Online: http://www.nemunas.net/archyvas/20%20mazesnis%20.pdf

Vaida Stepanovaitė, Decentralizacijos projektų patirtys Lietuvoje. 2016 11 25. Online: http://literaturairmenas.lt/2016-11-25-nr-3591/3625-daile/5588-vaida-stepanovaite-decentralizacijos-projektu-patirtys-lietuvoje

Pokalbis apie kultūros decentralizaciją Lietuvoje. 2016 11 21. Online: http://www.letmekoo.lt/author/vaida-stepanovaite/pokalbis-apie-kulturos-decentralizacija-lietuvoje/

Neringa Krikščiūnaitė, Kitoks Šilainių veidas2016 11 25.  Online: http://literaturairmenas.lt/2016-11-25-nr-3591/3625-daile/5587-neringa-kriksciunaite-kitoks-silainiu-veidas

Šilainiai driokstelėjo: forto tuneliuose – kaukianti sirena ir menininkų projektas. 2016 10 15. Online: http://kauno.diena.lt/naujienos/kaunas/menas-ir-pramogos/silainiai-driokstelejo-forto-tuneliuose-kaukianti-sirena-ir-menininku-projektas-776600

Evelina Šimkutė: „Šilainių fasadas tėra viena dėlionės dalis“. 2016 09 28. Online:http://kamane.lt/Kamanes-tekstai/Kinas-ir-fotografija/Evelina-Simkute-Silainiu-fasadas-tera-viena-deliones-dalis;

Tyrimų laukas – Šilainių mikrorajonas. 2016 09 19. Online: http://kauno.diena.lt/naujienos/kaunas/menas-ir-pramogos/tyrimu-laukas-silainiu-mikrorajonas-771776

A sleeping district of poets and painters: redefining Kaunas’s Šilainiai. Deep Baltic Blog. 2016 10 31. Online: https://deepbaltic.com/2016/10/31/a-sleeping-district-of-poets-and-painters-redefining-kaunass-silainiai/

Evelina Šimkutė: „Kūryboje ir darbuose Šilainiai visada buvo su manimi“. 2016 08 31. Online: http://kalbasilainiai.lt/evelina-simkute-kuryboje-ir-darbuose-silainiai-visada-buvo-su-manimi/

Daugiaaukščių Šilainių istorija domina net japonus ir australus. 2016 08 28. Online:http://kultura.lrytas.lt/meno-pulsas/daugiaauksciu-silainiu-istorija-domina-net-japonus-ir-australus.htm?utm_source=lrExtraLinks&utm_campaign=Copy&utm_medium=Copy;

Kaip miegamasis rajonas virsta kultūriniu židiniu. 2016 08 09. Online: http://www.15min.lt/kultura/naujiena/asmenybe/kaip-miegamasis-rajonas-virsta-kulturiniu-zidiniu-285-666627;

Kokie yra tikrieji Šilainiai? 2016 08 05. Online: http://klaipeda.diena.lt/naujienos/kaunas/menas-ir-pramogos/kokie-yra-tikrieji-silainiai-763975

Evelina Šimkutė: „Šilainių ilgesys išaugino idėją surengti rajono nuotraukų parodą“. 2015 10 22. Online: https://www.silainiubustas.lt/index.php/puslapiai/kalba-silainiai/naujienos/ evelina-simkute-silainiu-ilgesys-isaugino-ideja-surengti-rajono-nuotrauku-paroda/336770