TESTING DEMOCRACY THROUGH ART by Eglė Grėbliauskaitė and Agnė Gintalaitė



This open letter, addressed to the elected Mayor of Vilnius Valdas Benkunskas and the Deputy Director of Vilnius Municipality Administration, Adomas Bužinskas, expresses concerns related to the defense of democratic values in culture and arts in Vilnius. As one municipal administration term ends and a new one begins, the authors call for the municipality to take responsibility for their actions, apologize to the public for misleading and disrespecting the arts and culture community, and treat the letter as an opportunity for the new officials to start their term with a new quality and positive attitude.

The letter refers to an incident in 2021, where an artistic installation was dismantled and destroyed by the municipality, violating good public administration principles, the right to fair administration, the presumption of innocence, and the right to freedom of expression. The letter highlights that the artist involved had no intention to organize the event without permission and was misled by the municipality’s own employees.

The letter criticizes the public statements made by Vilnius Municipality officials, accusing the artists of lying, destructive activities, cheap attention-seeking, and hooliganism, and calls for the officials to acknowledge the democratic principles of Lithuania, respect the autonomy of professionals and experts in the field, and uphold the right to legal action of every citizen.

In conclusion, the letter urges the Vilnius Municipality to take responsibility for its actions, admit its mistakes, and ensure a better democratic environment for artists and cultural professionals in the future.


Dr. Eglė Grėbliauskaitė – a doctor of visual arts, artist, researcher at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, lecturer at Vilnius Academy of Arts, associate professor of art at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, member of the Lithuanian interdisciplinary art creators union, author of projects and works of art in public urban spaces that have received public attention. The artist organizes exhibitions, participates in scientific conferences and public discussions in Lithuania and abroad. She chooses installation, sculpture, painting, unconventional means of expression, intuitive theoretical and physical strategies for her creative work. Her projects are characterized by attention to cultural and social changes, issues of self-governance and autonomy in the field of culture and art, and democratic values. Grėbliauskaitė’s scientific and artistic research focuses on sociopsychological mechanisms of repression operating in contemporary society, the genesis and development of conflict, criticism, and the struggle for value center.

Personal website: www.eglegrebliauskaite.com

Agnė Gintalaitė – artist, photographer, cultural journalist, reviewer at Lrt.lt, member of the Lithuanian Photographers Union and the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Art Creators Union. Agnė studied art history at Vilnius Academy of Arts, psychology at Vilnius University, and is currently continuing her studies in the master’s program in comparative cultural studies at Vytautas Magnus University. She has held four solo exhibitions, participated in group exhibitions, conferences, and public discussions on current art and cultural topics. She has published a novel and several books for children, and has won awards in international artistic photography competitions. Gintalaitė’s interdisciplinary creative strategy is characterized by a reflexive investigative approach, a post-photographic typological method, a hybridization of scientific and artistic imagery, attention to different forms of materiality, migration, the phenomenon of time, historical memory issues, the anthropocene, and questions of truth and artificial intelligence.

Personal websites: www.gintalaite.eu and www.agnegintalaite.lt

This art project is a part of postdoctoral research “SUPERVISING THE ARTISTIC AUTONOMY: ARTS AND THE CULTURAL POLICY IN LITHUANIA”. This project received funding from the Research Council of Lithuania (LMTL), agreement No S-PD-22-94.

2023  ©