Vilnius Gallery Weekend Announces Golden Ages


Golden Ages. This is the perspective that Vilnius Gallery Weekend, the first event of the autumn gallery and exhibition season, takes on the capital’s art field this year – a special year, marking Vilnius’s 700th anniversary. The organisers of the eighth edition of the art festival will invite visitors to reflect on what we remember and what we relegate to the margins, and to explore the kinds of golden ages that individuals and communities dream of. 

For the eighth year in a row, Vilnius Gallery Weekend invites the city’s residents and visitors to explore Vilnius’s contemporary art spaces, attend exhibitions and meet the artists. Taking place on 7-10 September this year, the event symbolically marks the beginning of a new exhibition season in the city.

“This year, as we are celebrating the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, we have decided to look at the capital’s art field from the perspective of the golden ages,” says the curator of the Vilnius Gallery Weekend programme, researcher of the history of Lithuanian art and art critic Indrė Urbelytė.

The theme of the programme is inspired by the idea of the Golden Age, popularised by the Greek poet Hesiod almost three thousand years ago and that eventually became ingrained in humanity’s imagination as an idealised image of a perfect, glorious past and a period of prosperity that will never return. 

“Today, the golden age is usually defined as an unequalled upsurge in economic, social, cultural and artistic life, elevating a given city to the international Olympus of glory. Vilnius’ golden age is considered to be the vibrant, nationally and culturally diverse middle of the 16th century, and today the city’s historical notions of prosperity continue to be the inspiration for the identity of our open and dynamic city,” says the programme curator.

Urbelytė is convinced that the concept of the Golden Age is inevitably linked to much broader themes, able to open up yet undiscovered layers of Vilnius’s cultural life. The meaning of the lost idyll is expanded by mythologised history, utopian spacetimes and images of popular culture: the Arcadian landscapes, charming with their harmonious relationship with nature and peaceful life; the gardens of Eden, freed from sins; the lands of Cockaigne, bursting with laziness, earthly pleasures and cornucopia; grimaces of poverty masked by a social-realist sun; parties permeated with hedonistic joy; and islands of inner peace built in the face of suffering and war.

“This is why we chose the plural form of the term – the Golden Ages – for the theme of the Vilnius Gallery Weekend: to reflect the extensive network of our everlasting memory and imagination, and the visions of the past, the present and the future that weave together into a smooth unity in art galleries.”

Vilnius Gallery Weekend will showcase events in more than 30 of the capital’s art spaces. The programme organisers have prepared three unique tour routes for art lovers, each of which will connect several galleries located in one given area and introduce the neighbourhood’s art network. The tours will be adapted for English-speaking and hearing-impaired audiences. A speculative tour, which includes a fictional story of Vilnius art told while sailing on a boat on the Neris River, is organised by Inès Guffroy (Brussels, Belgium). 

The event will feature a screening of short films by Artūras Barysas Baras, entitled Sssh: No Fun At The Seated Discotheque, which will take place in the cultural centre SODAS 2123. After the screening, visitors will get a chance to meet the project’s authors Lijana Siuchina and David Ellis (London, UK). Furthermore, the programme will be complemented by a performance by the interdisciplinary artist Denisas Kolomyckis and a dance performance Splits by the contemporary dancer Grėtė Šmitaitė (Berlin, Germany).

Vilnius Gallery Weekend will take place between 7-10 September 2023 in more than 30 cultural spaces in the city. The project is organised by the VšĮ Gallery Weekend together with the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artist Association  and the cultural centre SODAS 2123. Vilnius Gallery Weekend is funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and Vilnius City Municipality.