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At the international contemporary art fair "ArtVilnius'22" the “Lewben Art Foundation“ presented an exposition “Do Octopuses Dream About People? Works from the Lewben Art Foundation Collection“ analyzing ecological problems. The exhibition was curated by one of the most famous Lithuanian curators Valentinas Klimašauskas and featured works from the private collection of the Lewben Art Foundation.

The exhibition of the Lewben Art Foundation at “ArtVilnius'22“ offered to look at the limits of human imagination.

Inspired by the diversity of the Lewben Art Foundation’s collection of figurative works, this exhibition relied on creative speculation and mis-self-identification to encourage new approaches to both art history and this collection.

“I was like you once, a sealed plastic bag of water filters floating on the sea.” Following this sentence, through associative links, a perhaps somewhat unexpected teleportation to the ocean and the exchange of multiple perspectives, this exhibition offered an open platform for new speculative identities or poetic interpretations. The aforementioned collection, encompassing very different authors, periods and styles and mainly made up of anthropomorphic figures, was like an army of art objects sinking to the bottom of the ocean, or a chessboard dreamt up by octopuses, drifting between several highly relevant and problematic topics.

Firstly, anthropomorphism, a process typical of artists and of humans in general, manifested itself in the attribution of human qualities to non-human organisms and materials. At least in the Western artistic canon, the representation of the human figure has historically imprisoned the human imagination in an anthropocentric discourse and impeded a more open view of both the human and non-human beings or materials used to create the human figure. Today, such a representation of the human as such seems reductive; hence the main aspiration of this exhibition—to highlight more (and more varied) interpretations, exhibiting a whole crowd of sculptures.

Secondly, the notions of the human being and the human figure are problematic in a multitude of aspects. On the one hand, being an inherent part of nature, humans have always tended to separate themselves from it. On the other hand, by trying to change both nature and themselves, they paradoxically change nature as an environment and as their own nature, that is, also changing themselves. This is why the representation of the human figure or the human environment is usually only possible as an abstracted, metaphorical and incomplete act that simplifies both the human and nature as well as their relationship.

And thirdly—something that inspired this proposal the most—this exhibition could have been understood as a speculative and poetic attempt to imagine the (post-)human figure through the eyes of an animal, the other, or, in other words, a non-human. For instance, what kind of human sculptures would octopuses make if they were sculptors? Creatures pushing around starfish on the ocean floor with their eight limbs, changing the patterns and colors of their bodies as they dream, or perhaps even simultaneously creating camouflaged portraits of you on themselves?


Artists: Robertas Antinis (LT), Neil Beloufa (FR), Soly Cissé (SN), Tomas Daukša (LT), Ian Edwards (UK), Nerijus Erminas (LT), Kendell Geers (FA, BE), Indrikis Gelzis (LV), Zuza Golinska (PL), Hugh Hayden (US), Zhang Huan (CN, US), Audrius Janušonis (LT), Matas Janušonis (LT), Rūta Jusionytė (LT, FR), Vytautas Kumža (LT, NL), Jacques Lipchitz (FR, US), Vitas Luckus (LT), Paulius Makauskas (LT), Rimantas Milkintas (LT), Emmanuel Mané-Katz (FR), Deimantas Narkevičius (LT), Robertas Narkus (LT), Mindaugas Navakas (LT), Marc Petit (FR), Gabriele de Santis (IT), Miša Skalskis (LT, FI), Erwin Wurm (AT, US)

Organiser – “Lewben Art Foundation”

Curator – Valentinas Klimašauskas

Coordinators: Ugnė Bužinskaitė, Giedrė Marčiulaitė, Rūta Gajauskaitė

Graphic Design – Vilius Dringelis

Photos by Leonas Garbačauskas

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