Empathic Encounters with Art during the 7th Vilnius Gallery Weekend. Project’s partner – LIAA


Empathy, attention, discovery, stories – these are the signposts that will guide the map of this year’s Vilnius Gallery Weekend (VGW). More than 30 cultural spaces of the capital have prepared a rich programme of experiences for Vilnius’ residents, including exhibition openings, meetings with artists, creative and experiential workshops as well as a special discussion programme to be presented on 8-11 September. Vilnius’ residents and visitors are invited to feel free to use the map of empathy – to see, to hear, to understand, to tell, also to wander, to look for untested routes when forming their own relationship with the artworks, the creators, the fellow travellers and the people they meet along the way.

Well known spaces and new spaces

Dozens of galleries, museums and art centres link the streets of Vilnius into a coherent cultural network. The dynamic art scene of the capital introduces at least a few new cultural initiatives every year, so even if you are walking along the usual routes, you might be surprised to discover yet another unseen exhibition space. Meanwhile, the old-timers of the art field are confidently pursuing their mission by trying out new formats.

The Vilnius Gallery Weekend event is organised for the seventh year in a row this year. Four galleries from each of its partners – The Lithuanian National Museum of Art and from Vilnius Academy of Arts are taking part in the event programme. They are presenting 14 exhibitions in total, inviting visitors to rethink the idea of authorship of a work of art, to reveal the diversity of artistic techniques, or to explore how leisure time has been spent in Lithuania over the last century.

Other well-known art spaces in Vilnius Old Town, New Town, Centre and Užupis will not let one get bored. Those up for longer walks will be able to discover paintings, sculptures, photographs, ceramics and audiovisual installations by Lithuanian and foreign artists. Via these exhibitions, the 2022 VGW theme of empathy does not shout neither demand attention, it rather suggests a more attentive observation of the world around us and our place in it.

The cultural centre SODAS 2123, founded by the organiser of the VGW, the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Aritists’ Association, also hosts four participants of this year’s event: the galleries Swallow, Atletika, the Architecture Foundation, and FAMM. The latter two are taking part in the gallery weekend for the first time, and the cultural centre itself will also offer a programme of open studios of the artists and cultural organisations based at the centre, including guided tours, music and an intriguing tomato exhibition, so for time savers SODAS 2123 might be one of the most apt choices.

Visual art lovers might be interested in places that are less frequently visited or not known at all – this year the VGW was joined by the Ivan Lutskevich Belarusian Museum, the Composers’ House which has become an exhibition space for two young artists, the new Medusa, which will pleasantly tingle (it has outgrown its previous shape – the Šv. Jono gatvės gallery), the project Maršrutizatoriai, which has found its new home in the Vilnius Culture, Recreation and Sports Hall, and the much-loved Lukiškių Prison 2.0.

 Empathy for people, nature and even objects through art

During VGW, artists and gallerists are trying to break the clichés of distant, incomprehensible contemporary art, and to provide visitors with new, positive experiences. Over the four days of the event, children, families, young people and adults will have an opportunity to attend over a dozen of meetings with exhibition curators and artists, who will be eager to share stories about their creative path, vision and the circumstances that led them to their current works. Such meetings will be organised by the gallery AV(17), which will be opening a new exhibition during the VGW, the galleries Meno Niša, apiece and others – they will invite to comfortably sit down indoors or on the lawn.

In the workshops organised at the National Gallery of Art, the Radvila Palace Museum of Art, Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum, the Museum of Applied Arts and Design, etc., specialists in the field of art education will help visitors to get acquainted with art via practical means – to try out the techniques used by artists, to unravel the knots of contemporary art, to discover thematic or emotional parallels, and after all participants will be able to take home the works created by themselves. It could become a great activity (and at the same time a lesson) for the little ones and their families who are always on the go.

Visitors who have seen it all in traditional spaces and who are looking for an adventure should note the Ribiškių Landscape Reserve and the digital space. In the former, artist and traveller Jelena Vereško will organise a forest bathing – an experiential practice of recovery and slowing down. And in the online space, artist Karolina Ūla Valentaitė will organise a performative tarot card reading.

 Special programme of discussions: to see, to hear, to understand, to tell

10 September will be dedicated to a deeper look at empathy in art and everyday practices. The National Gallery of Art will host a special programme of three discussions The Map of Empathy: Seeing, Hearing, Understanding, Telling presented by Jolanta Marcišauskytė-Jurašienė.

Via discussions moderated by art critic, curator and writer Valentinas Klimašauskas, art educator Rima Povilionytė and anthropologist Dr. Arvydas Grišinas, a large group of speakers will explore the limits of empathy when facing the other. These discussion sessions will summarise the essence of the 2022 VGW programme, inviting to get to know various perspectives on empathy – from artists, art educators, therapists, psychologists, and even soldiers.

This year’s theme, which unites the art spaces of Vilnius into a single fabric, is visualised by the textile artist and art therapist Mantas Televičius via the art therapy workshop Human. This therapeutic project, which has been developed by the hands of dozens of people at the Vilnius City Mental Health Centre for the past eleven years, is special in its emotional charge and sensitive response to the need for empathy. Everyone interested will be able to join this project – it balances between a collective handicraft, a therapeutic tool and a work of art. The event will take place at the M.K. Čiurlionis house, where it will be possible to cosy up among the soft thread balls with a knitting hook in hand.

The Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association (LTMKS) initiated the first Vilnius Gallery Weekend back in 2016 in order to introduce the city’s art spaces to its audiences, to present the new art initiatives and to foster the tradition of visiting art galleries. Throughout seven years this event has become the annual tradition of the city.

The 7th Vilnius Gallery Weekend will take place 8-11 September 2022.

The event is curated by art historians, curators and art critics Jolanta Marcišauskytė-Jurašienė and Danutė Gambickaitė.

Full programme here.

Organised by VšĮ Galerijų savaitgalis

Partner – Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association

Project supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture and Vilnius City Municipality

Main information partner – 15min.lt

Partners and supporters: Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Clear Channel Lithuania, VšĮ Ariel Ink, VšĮ Artnews.lt, MB Menų komunikacija, KAIP KAM kombuča