The eyes of Europe and all the world are on Kaunas and the Kaunas district. On 19 January, the opening events of the European Capital of Culture year will begin, bringing the events closer to their epicentre, the grand opening show – “The Confusion”, with fiery steps. On the evening of 22 January, no one will sleep a wink for – an intense schedule of special events is set right up to the last moments of the weekend.
Kaunas District to Host the First Fiery Accents
From Čekiškė to Vandžiogala, from Šilainiai to Aleksotas – the introduction to the Capital of Culture year will be lit up on 19 January in the most remote towns of Kaunas district, and then move to the city’s residential areas.
These artistic accents, or the “Circles of Light”, are the heralds calling for the wake-up call to the Mythical Beast of Kaunas. Residents are invited to join the musical percussion miniature dedicated to the Mythical Beast and perform it with professional musicians. Just bring sounding objects that everyone can find at home – even pots and buckets will do!
The opening events will be illuminated by mysterious light and fire shows (featuring Arkadijus Gotesmanas, Ritmas kitaip, viduramžiai.lt) and performances by choirs and ensembles.
On Wednesday, 19 January, the inhabitants of Vandžiogala, Čekiškė and Piliuona will gather for the rituals of the awakening of the Mythical Beast. On 20 January, after dark, the action will move to Garliava, Akademija and Domeikava. On 21 January, the fire circles will come closer to the city centre will stop in Petrašiūnai, Aleksotas and Šilainiai. Every event is set to start at 7:30 pm.
Openings in Museums and Galleries
The grand opening event of Kaunas 2022, The Contemporary Myth of Kaunas Trilogy. Act I. The Confusion, will take place on Saturday, 22 January. Both before the launch and after the final chords have sounded, Kaunas 2022 and its partners will offer over 100 artistic and cultural events – concerts, exhibitions, dance performances, etc., including a unique game of Mythical Beast in the city streets.
The opening weekend sees the opening of some of the European Capital of Culture’s most anticipated exhibitions, the first of which is “That Which We Do Not Remember” by South African contemporary art star William Kentridge. The show, organised by Kaunas 2022 and held throughout the year at the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, is curated by the head of Kaunas 2022, Virginija Vitkienė.
The importance of Kaunas architecture and its context will be revealed in the international exhibition “Modernism for the Future 360/365”. Organised by Kaunas 2022, it is a creative report of the eponymous Kaunas 2022 programme, housed in the iconic Kaunas central post office.
Later this year, an exhibition by Yoko Ono will be opened at the Kaunas Picture Gallery, curated by the Contemporary Art Centre. Now, it will be heralded by an installation by the art world non-conformist. Impressive in size and depth, Ex It is housed in the luxurious palace of the Bank of Lithuania, which many have never visited before.
Two other cities that have been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture this year also present exhibitions in Kaunas. The Meno Parkas Gallery invites everyone to the show by the Luxembourgers Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil from Esch-sur-Alzette. Novi Sad (Serbia) will present its avant-garde art at the Kaunas Photography Gallery.
Action in Shop Windows and Underground Passages
As soon as the grand opening event is over on Saturday evening, Kaunas’ Christ Resurrection Basilica will become a beacon, a guiding star for those determined to experience the city. The beam of light will be visible from the city‘s farthest reaches, and everyone will be able to create their own route to the church.
Those strolling along Laisvės Alėja and its approaches will be drawn to the exhibition “Lithuanian Design: from Temporary to Contemporary”. The show, which presents the development of Lithuanian design, will be housed in the shop windows of such legendary places as Kaunas Central Bookstore, Spurginė, Vilties Pharmacy, the National Kaunas Drama Theatre, even the Kaunas District Court and the Kaunas Regional Prosecutor’s Office, and many other institutions.
The windows of the cafés on Laisvės Avenue will also become miniature stages for excerpts from a cantata by the South African composer Philip Miller. The world premiere of Kaunas Cantata will take place in autumn 2022.
The interactive art installation will be experienced throughout the weekend by the Kaunas City Vincas Kudirka Public Library on Laisvės Avenue. Here, you will be able to become a co-author of the technology and see classic literature, language, sentences and the ordinary meanings of words from a new perspective by meeting a robot poet.
Meanwhile, the Kaunas County Public Library invites you to visit the sculpture exhibition “The Brotherhood of the Beast of Kaunas” and extend your acquaintance with the my(s)tical creatures through an interactive role-playing game.
Along with Kaunas 2022, the historical Kaunas Fortress is also marching towards the Contemporary Capital. The installation “Commandant’s Bunker / To the Contemporary Fortress” will invite spectators to enter a very mysterious object in Vytautas Park for the first time.
There will also be plenty of unexpected action in public spaces. Seven different venues will host special – and different – PinoKeys performances. Artists and people with disabilities have joined forces in the creative process.
The immersive performances of the modern dance genre Butoh “Butoh. Movements of Memory” will take place in the underpass at Kaunas railway station. This will be a prelude to the autumn performance of Tebby W.T. Ramasike, a dancer and choreographer from South Africa, at the Ninth Fort of Kaunas Fortress.
Later that night, Vienybės (Unity) Square will become the symbolic halfway point to the Christ’s Resurrection Basilica, the last stop on the journey of the first part of the trilogy, where the Kaunas State Choir will be preparing for a late-night concert. The square will be the ideal place to relax, warm up, have a snack and enjoy live music.
A Great Opportunity to Check Ongoing Shows
On 19-23 January, its last weekend, the contemporary art exhibition MagiC Carpets Landed will offer exclusive tours and events. The same goes for the 13th Kaunas Biennial. Look for contemporary art in places such as the Basketball House, the Devil Museum, the Kaunas Picture Gallery, the Kaunas Railway Station, and various public spaces.
A brand new exhibition, “Stories of the Palace”, will invite you to see the Historical Presidential Palace in Kaunas with a different perspective. It goes back to when the building was the residence of the Governor of Kaunas, followed by visits from the German Kaiser, lunches for soldiers, a Soviet teachers’ home, and ends with the events and ideas of recent years.
Two exhibitions for those interested in modernist architecture are located in the historical house-museum of A. and P. Galaunės. The exhibition “ARNO FUNK[tionalism” is dedicated to one of the most exciting and mysterious Kaunas architects, engineers and interior designers of the interwar period. Meanwhile, the interactive exhibition “Moder…What? Kaunas Modernism! And the Profession of the Architect” is aimed at children but is also suitable for adults.
Attendees of the opening events of Kaunas 2022 must comply with the health and safety rules laid down by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, such as keeping a safe distance, wearing face masks, and other relevant recommendations.
The number of free passes is limited
Free tickets to the opening of Kaunas 2022 – “The Contemporary Myth of Kaunas Trilogy. Act I. The Confusion” – can be obtained from 10 January HERE. Due to the pandemic situation, the number of free passes is limited.
The grand opening show will be broadcast on television, the internet, and on the official Facebook and Youtube pages of Kaunas 2022.
As Kaunas and the Kaunas district are becoming one European stage, all these and more opening weekend events will become an intelligent warm-up for an action-packed year.
The complete and up-to-date programme of events for the European Capital of Culture is always at your fingertips – download the Kaunas 2022 mobile app or visit www.kaunas2022.eu/sukilimas