On September 7th, the exhibition “[not]Criticising” was opened at Ideas Block – Kompresorinė space, featuring the art projects “Terra Plastica” by Alisa Palavenis and “In Search of Self-criticism” by Justas Kažys. The exhibition was also included in the program of the annual art festival “Vilnius Gallery Weekend 2023”.
The exhibition brings together two seemingly disparate art projects that share a common theme – ironic self-criticism, both personal and impersonal, as well as universal. The authors of this exhibition invite viewers to contemplate their role in cultivating a more harmonious relationship with their surroundings, emphasising the significance of critical thinking, self-reflection, and accountability.
Questioning societal norms
Questioning societal norms and behaviours is instrumental in unearthing vulnerabilities and new perspectives. This adaptive mechanism has historically facilitated survival and adjustment to changing environmental circumstances. Simultaneously, it entails apprehension and discomfort. For this reason, self-criticism is often viewed as destructive and detrimental to the human psyche, and it is suggested it should be replaced by self-compassion.
Justas Kažys believes that nowadays, many individuals find themselves mired in a facade of feigned tolerance and insincere compassion. We confine our self-perception by abstaining from self-examination, succumbing to laziness, or possibly failing to perceive ourselves as interconnected within the fabric of the universe. Justas embarks on a journey of introspection and self-critique, exploring personal boundaries – physical, spiritual, social, and their connection to nature and the universe.
Through prose poetry and visual artworks, he probes non-conformity to established norms, social injustice, the value of unity, and the fears associated with embracing it as he departs from his scientific persona. His reflections on the interplay between the individual, society, and the environment are laced with irony. Justas highlights the necessity of a critical approach to acknowledge personal limitations.
Shaping the world filled with plastic
Engaging in critical introspection extends beyond individual behavioural patterns, encompassing the broader societal context and its implications for the planet. Alisa Palavenis, a scientist and environmental activist, has transitioned into an artist’s role to raise queries pertinent to her and to all – concerning each person’s role and responsibility in shaping the world filled with plastic (lat. Terra Plastica) we inhabit.
Her ironic and grotesque creations, crafted from discarded plastic caps collected from cafes and waste gathered along the seashore, prompt contemplation on the trajectory of “disposability” and the remnants of human (un)culture. This line of thought compels Alisa to reflect on whether our treatment of the material realm influences our existence.
Could it be that our lives, too, have become disposable? Alternatively, could the waste of our time eventually transform into the treasures of a new era, with people eagerly collecting the curious formations unearthed after a storm? For now, it all remains the residue of human presence on Earth, bearing witness to the ecological challenges of the Anthropocene and beyond.
About the authors
Both exhibiting artists have their roots in the realm of science. Justas Kažys, a climatologist and associate professor at Vilnius University, has dedicated his scientific pursuits to climate change.
While Justas has written numerous essays and scientific articles, he wrote his first poems five years ago. During this time, he has already produced three collections of poetry and participated in group exhibitions at galleries such as Arka (“[up]rooting”) or National Art Gallery (“Urban Nature: Starting with Vilnius”).
Alisa Palavenis holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and is a pharmacist, environmental activist, and artist. She has been working on complementary environmental and artistic activities since 2019 and has been developing her skills in courses organized by Vilnius Academy of Arts (VDA). In Lithuania, she has already held three solo painting exhibitions and more than ten eco-photography exhibitions, including a painting exhibition at the AIDAS Gallery (“Alisa’s Miraculous Morphoses”), eco-photography shows at the Seimas of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (“Raise it or Leave it – Nobody’s Rubbish in Nature”) and at the Ministryof the Environment of the Republic of Lithuania (“Exile to Eternity”).
Arranged by Alisa Palavenis
Exhibition time and place
The exhibition [not]Criticising at the Ideas Block – Kompresorinė is open from September 7 till September 30, 2023, address Goštauto str. 11, Vilnius, Lithuania.