A smoke sculpture-performance by Dainius Liškevičius in Petras Cvirka Square


On September 9th, 2023, at 4:00 p.m., at the Petras Cvirka Square in Vilnius, at the site of the former monument, artist Dainius Liškevičius will perform a smoke sculpture-performance A One-Minute Portrait of George Maciunas Saying CIAO! This event is part of the Vilnius Gallery Weekend programme.

Dainius Liškevičius’ performances work like puzzles solved by deciphering cultural signs. And the key is social and political shifts measured by the artist’s body and the time itself. Since 1999, the artist marks the discovered places by standing on his head in the cities of the world like a traveller of old times, and at the same time performs a titanic work – he ‘holds’ the Earth as Atlas with his creative oeuvre (Centers of the World / Enjoy yourself). He created a dizzying sign for his hometown of Kaunas by standing on the castle tower and pointing in the wrong direction (Vėjarodis / The Weather Vane, 1996). In Vilnius, he was lying on the knees of the bronze Žemaitė like a dead Christ, as he immortalized the non-establishment of the Antanas Gudaitis Museum and the non-fulfillment of the artist’s will (Pieta, 2013). Political radicals made Liškevičius famous for his youthful performance Blot / Restart (2000) when he became a different person after wiping his chocolate-stained face with a tricolour, a citizen of the future Lithuania that accepts otherness. In 2022, he dedicated the performance Is There a SPRING? to warring Ukraine, saving its culture from the rampage of aggressors blinded by propaganda.

This year, at the invitation of the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association, Liškevičius will perform three performances. On September 9th, at 4:00 p.m., A One-minute portrait of George Maciunas saying CIAO! will take place. It is already the fourth version of the smoke sculpture-performance. The first one literally lasted one minute. On June 13th, 2010, the smoke released on the roof of the Fluxus Ministry was shaped by the wind that was blowing at the time, the configuration of the Vilnius terrain, buildings and streets, the movement and voices of the people of Vilnius, and the artist’s breath. It seemed as if the founder of Fluxus was sending us a message from beyond, using a substance that obeys even the spirits – air. Although the sculpture was visual, it also formalized the time interval of one minute. In 2013, this performance was performed twice more – in a factory yard in Cēsis (Latvia) and Kaunas, on the defunct fountain of Laisvės Alėja. Dainius Liškevičius appeared both times with a Maciunesque hat and a feather, with which he conducted, wrote in the air, and after releasing the smoke, formed a sculpture, which eliminated the author himself before disappearing, making the audience laugh and cough. This time, the performance will be performed in Vilnius, in Petras Cvirka Square, so that George Maciunas would say a smoke-shaped word in the eternal debate on monuments.

The artist will continue the series of performances later this fall by presenting the interactive installation Entropy / Che Fare?, which was created in 2018. In 1969, Italian artist Mario Merz wrote Lenin’s revolutionary question “What Is To Be Done?” on the wall, and Liškevičius transformed it into movements in a definite territory. The entropy that occurs naturally in the physical world – the breakdown of order – is expressed in the installation by a constructive post-apocalyptic dystopia consisting of 6 elements. The most prominent object here is an advertising light box hanging on an electric cable with a woman’s eyes cut out of a photograph from a pornographic website. The meaning of the pornographic simulacrum is as empty as the photographed girl’s eyes. Apparently, the falling light box has almost reached the ground and is about to crash, but in this moment of weightlessness, it is like a pendulum measuring the time of desperate action. On a site strewn with campfire ashes, the artist is stroking the strings of an electric guitar with a shaman’s stick, making rasping sounds. Smoke is coming from the tent that defines the nomad’s territory. And the audience reads the newly distributed newspaper “Che Fare News,” which reports on unexplained natural phenomena and crazy actions of people influenced by conspiracy theories. There are many meanings, but the aimless emptiness of a lost contemporaneity looms large.

In addition, Liškevičius will perform a new performance, the spatial and temporal circumstances of which are not yet known. (Text by Agnė Narušytė)

Dainius Liškevičius is a member of the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association. He represents the Lithuanian “Break Generation,” consisting of artists who contributed to the renewal of artistic expression after the restoration of Lithuanian independence. He creates installations, photographs, and performances, further blurring the boundaries of genres and seeking new forms in contemporary art. Liškevičius’ creative work is characterized by contextuality, irony, civic engagement, and social criticism. Responding to the topography of a specific place, he investigates people’s behaviors and experiences, identity and cultural values, the collision of public and private spaces, and personal and collective memory. In 2015, Dainius Liškevičius represented Lithuania at the 56th Venice Biennale, where he presented the project Museum. In 2021, he was awarded the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize. More information: www.liskevicius.lt

Activities of LIAA are supported by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and Vilnius City Municipality.