I usually start my newsletters with a touch of philosophical rumination, the light and careful touche (you know me, I prefer the French), of an amateur in the true and Gallic sense of that word, idly tapping away by the banks of the river Neris as it babbles past; the birds singing in the trees, the gentle rustle of birch leaves, the joyful laugh of a small contented child carried along in the warm, happy, happy air, and I dreaming as if I were the privileged character of Checkhovian drama in my dacha (before the gun goes off and everyone goes mad). But, as I was thinking of lightly discussing the fact that mercury has recently been in retrograde again – really, again! Is it ever not in retrograde? Can it, will it, ever be in pro-grade? – I could only bang my fists in fury.
But just as I was thinking of writing an angry letter to the superintendent of planetary (com)motion, Rupert – the institution, not yours truly – got some wonderful news and announced the selection of the new director, Julija Rekalite, whose expertise and experience in the cultural sector, including theatre, architecture and performance, her four-years of service as the cultural attaché to Italy at the Lithuanian Embassy, her numerous contacts and networks, and her brilliant enthusiasm and care will lead Rupert into new, exciting fields of practice and discussion, including our recently-won bid to represent Lithuania at the Venice Biennial of Architecture next year. Julija will continue the fantastic work of Juste Jonutyte, who for the past five years has been responsible for steering Rupert onwards, upwards and outwards (even through retrogrades) and has brought so many of us together. Juste will still be with us as she joins Rupert’s board, while also pursuing her independent projects. Our family of residents, guests, staff and board have grown wonderfully.
And reaching toward further pro-grade goodness, I am excited to announce a programme ahead that will be a real draw for those in Vilnius this summer. If light-winged Mercury insists on flying backwards without our being able to do something about it, we can still find ways of flying in the face of our own bizarre and oppressive systems and structures which too often are presented as intractable and inevitable by those who uphold them. In leading the way, the August residents, COVEN Berlin, will be presenting on August 21st, a screening of films which explore how new media, sci-fi genres and visual and verbal languages can be used to articulate resistance against hetero-patriarchal norms of desire, sexuality and sex. This will be a unique opportunity to see films that are rarely shown on public platforms.
And, if you can only visit us digitally for now, then Jonas Mekas’ own world of films and poetry remains with an online continuation of the exhibition, Jonas Mekas: Let me dream utopias, where you can read texts and see a film; it will continue to expand, so stay tuned.
And if one exhibition project has finished, then I have another very exciting event to announce rounding off this month and heralding in the new one. The brilliant Alternative Education participants – Maarten Brijker, Milda Dainovskytė and Laurynas Skeisgiela, Viktorija Damerell, Elžbieta Jašinskaitė, Edvinas Grinkevičius, Ieva Sriebaliūtė, Dainius Vanagas – will be presenting their projects and a zine on September 1st, at an event at Rupert called The Details will be Ours. I wanted to write more here, but they have given me licence to leave things unfinished (go to the event, you’ll see).
So, Mercury, if you think of being in retrograde anytime soon, just remember you have a group of people who can point the way. And, dear reader, if you need some sustenance and inspiration should you be caught up in Mercury’s confused flight passages any time soon, then come visit my pretty home complete with babbling brook or visit the website, facebook or instagram accounts.
Image: moment from our trip earlier this month to ‘Šilainiai Project’ creative platform in the housing estate of Šilainiai, Kaunas (Lithuania)
Canan Batur is a Turkish curator, researcher and writer based between London and Istanbul. She is currently devising a project at 1.1, Basel, and working on establishing a new space in Istanbul with a specific focus on preservation, historical reenactments, and alternative education (to be announced soon). Previously, she co-curated Baltic Triennial XIII (2017-2019), I was, but just awake under Art Night 2019, and It was a dream of a trip in Shangai in collaboration with Shanghai Biennial XIII (2018). She was one of the co-founders of clearview, a project space/ residency programme in London (2016-2018). Her current research topics include; the objecthood in performance; and the ways to devise radical translocality, and to facilitate quantum thinking.
Coven Berlin (Germany) founded in 2013 Coven Berlin is a sex-positive transdisciplinary collective focused on feminism, love, gender, sexuality and art. At Rupert, Coven Berlin will examine queer feminist art/activism as a valuable tool of resistance and artistic movement from a transdisciplinary perspective. The residency will explore embodied research, artistic production, and community engagement towards redefining ‘political’ or ‘socially engaged’ art and examining the material reality of money and security behind representational work in the arts, as well as how feminist curation guides questions representation, identity and visibility.