Kristina Inčiūraitė: Zones of Exception

Exhibition at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen, 10.12.2005 to 30.12.2005
Artist talk, Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen, 10.12.2005

In the exhibition at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen, Kristina Inčiūraitė showed works from the series Stages (2002–05) as well as two new video installations.

Lithuanian philosopher Audronė Žukauskaitė wrote of Kristina Inčiūraitė’s work: “[In her] videos we see static images that imply a kind of social paralysis, suspense, and expulsion. A stage that metonymically depicts the representational stage itself always remains empty or, to put it more exactly, is consciously emptied out. On the socio-political level it can be related to the changes of economic formations—places, important in the period of socialism, have now become either abandoned or have been appropriated by different aesthetics or ideology. […] The artist talks about some exceptional zones [in today’s Lithuania] that are expelled and marginalized by capitalist ideology and order. These zones of exception appear to be oddly vital, full of emotions, voices and sounds. The aesthetics of the zones of exception is conveyed through the theme of femininity, though the women are consciously left out of the frame. This double exception turns into absolute positivism, embodied through the soundtrack/voice, which fills the camera with material substance without imposing any ideological meaning.”

Works in the exhibition

Lakes, 2-channel video, 2004, 7 min.

Lakes consists of two parts in which two elderly women relate visual memories about Lithuanian lakes that played an important role in their lives. The first part frames memories recalled by the artist’s mother. She remembers the lakes near Šiauliai, where Inčiūraitė’s parents have been living since their youth. In the second part, Lithuanian film star Vaiva Mainelytė tells a story about the lakes that made her famous. As a young woman, Mainelytė starred in Devil’s Bride (1974), a film shot on location at the Aukštadvaris lakes. The picture reached a cult status in Lithuania during the 1970s.

Different memories about lakes, narrated by two women from the same generation, document the subjective experience of the past and—tied to the visual footage of the frozen over (and thus inaccessible) lakes—redefine the symbolic realm of femininity.

Greetings, 3-channel video, 2005, 3 min.

The work shows three girls who live in isolated farmhouses near the village of Viešintos, in the Anykščiai district of Lithuania. Inčiūraitė’s father was born there, and the artist visits the village often. As young people leave the villages to pursue a better life in the city, fewer and fewer children start school each year. The diminishing number of young people is allegorized in images of the girls, which appear to dissolve into the white-on-white winter landscape.

Works from the series Stages:

Leisure, 2003, single-channel video, 5 min.

Leisure is set in Visaginas, Lithuania’s newest city, which was built in 1975 to provide housing for employees of the Ignalina nuclear power station.

The singing of a youth choir rehearsing in the Visaginas culture center echoes across the empty stage. The lyrics recall the desperate and deep faith in the future that characterized the Soviet period: “We wish you happiness, happiness in this big world.” This song no longer holds the positive connotations it once had in Visaginas. With the planned closure of the nuclear power plant, the city is likely to be depopulated as quickly as it was once inhabited. The empty stage represents an impending, uncertain picture of the future.

Spinsters, 2003, single-channel video, 4 min.

The action is set in the Vilnius girls’ reformatory. A brick wall, behind which we see a dilapidated, Russian Orthodox Church undergoing slow reconstruction, conceals the inner rhythm of life inside reformatory walls—the girls’ everyday joys and sorrows.

The girls present a performance at the end of the school year, the highlight of which is the so-called “spinsters” show. We do not see the show itself; instead it is conveyed through several details: a crackling record of a Lithuanian pop song about love, a four-line verse from the “spinsters’” show, the back of a young “spinster” dressed in folk costume, looking like an old woman. Despite the girls’ attempts to joke and make light of “spinsterhood” as a topic, these fragments—an expression of the teenagers’ social isolation—betray a feeling of melancholy.

Order, 2004, single-channel video, 6 min.

Two young, female police officers speak about their work in the Vilnius public police, a tough job that requires hard physical and psychological training. The police officers speak very delicately about their experiences on the job, admiting, for example, that there are not enough shooting lessons during training, and that their gender and relative youth can sometimes get in the way of their work.

The police officers’ accounts are coupled with images of a nursing female dog frantically running around an abandoned shooting range. The visual material reflects on the police officers’ situation.

Shutdown, 2004, single-channel video, 6 min.

The Gintaras Hotel, one of the most luxurious hotels in Vilnius with a large, popular restaurant, shut down in 2002. This Soviet-era hotel was subsequently renovated and its name changed; the hotel’s old atmosphere vanished. All that has remained unchanged is the “Gintaras” sign on the roof of the building and the disused restaurant with its fancifully decorated stage. These leftover, characteristic features of Gintaras Hotel have been captured in the video, which exudes a certain nostalgia: the sign for the non-existent hotel flashes, inviting us to enter; the empty restaurant is filled with music from the show held as the Gintaras Hotel was closing, while a member of the band Bobų vasara (en.: Indian Summer) and a female bartender share their recollections about the closing-down party that bid farewell to the luxury and glamour of the old hotel.

Kristina Inčiūraitė (*1974) lives in Vilnius/LT. In thematicizing personal memories and notions of female identity, her video works record and reflect social and psychological changes in post-Soviet Lithuanian society.


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