February 24, 2009 - Van Abbemuseum - The Unanimous Life: Deimantas Narkevičius
February 24, 2009

The Unanimous Life: Deimantas Narkevičius

Deimantas Narkevičius
Revisiting Solaris, 2007, film still
Courtesy the artist, Collection Van Abbemuseum

Deimantas Narkevičius
The Unanimous Life
solo exhibition
28/02 – 01/06 2009

Van Abbemuseum
Bilderdijklaan 10
Eindhoven – The Netherlands
+31 (0)40 238 1000
info [​at​] vanabbemuseum.nl



From 28 January until 1 June 2009, the Van Abbemuseum presents the solo exhibition The Unanimous Life by Deimantas Narkevičius (Lithuania, 1964). In this exhibition, Narkevičius explores the links between record, memory and testimony in a selection of video and film works as well as sculpture and photography. Ranging from earlier pieces such as Europe 54° 54′ – 25° 19′ (1997), shot using old Soviet film equipment, to newer works like Revisiting Solaris (2007), this selection of Narkevičius’ oeuvre lays bare the paradox inherent in a society’s collective memory and projections of themselves in the future. His work can be described as a skilful synthesis of contemporary biographies using historical footage that shows audiences how easy it is to mythologise reality. This major retrospective represents the first opportunity for Dutch and regional audiences to see in detail a broad selection of the artist’s works produced over the past 10 years, allowing the visitor to follow Narkevičius’ development as a story teller and image maker.

Narkevičius is an artist whose work is primarily developed in film and video format, although on occasion he has also worked with sculpture, photographs and installations. His oeuvre subtly addresses a key theme in modern-day societies: our relationship with temporality and memory. Specifically, Lithuania’s transition from a Soviet society to the constitution of an independent democratic state has given Narkevičius an opportunity to suggest the emergence of a new dimension of historical time. The need to understand the connection between the memory of life experiences and the memory of imagined events is clearly expressed in works such as Scena (2003) and Energy Lithuania (2000), and is even more radically evident in one of his latest pieces, Revisiting Solaris (2007).

The works of Narkevičius are strongly influenced by Soviet-era film making traditions, combined with constructivist, conceptual and post-conceptual strategies. Narkevičius encountered some of these after the renewed independence of Lithuania in 1991. His production therefore crosses over and through the divide in what might be termed the ‘aesthetic ideology’ that marked the Cold War period. While the western half of the 1945 line of demarcation in Europe issued a militant call for artistic autonomy, the socialist east emphasised almost exclusively the social and political function of art. Having experienced both sides, many of the films by Narkevičius touch on the wider contradictions and instrumentalisations inherent in both positions. He explores the perceptual possibilities that living through a change of systems offers to an artist, especially in his apparent understanding of history as a series of events that can always be subject to revision and renewed interpretation.

Narkevičius and the Van Abbemuseum
Deimantas Narkevičius has already become an important artist for the Van Abbemuseum. The work Energy Lithuania (2000) was one of the first purchases Charles Esche made after he started as director of the museum in 2004. For over a year, this film was shown in the museum together with a group of works from the El Lissitzky collection. This combination was a way to link the past programme as a museum with the current policy of focusing the collection on work from Central and Eastern Europe. The museum has since then added Revisiting Solaris (2007) to the collection. Now, this full-scale exhibition is a further opportunity to get to know Narkevičius more and to compare his work with other artistic positions from the same period in the presentations of our permanent collection Plug In and Living Archive. In 2008, Narkevičius won the prestigious Vincent Award, annually presented at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The Unanimous Life has been organised by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, in collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum and Kunsthalle Bern.

The exhibition is curated by Chus Martínez (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) and Annie Fletcher (Van Abbemuseum).

The Unanimous Life has been realised in part by a contribution by the Mondriaan Foundation.

In conjunction with this exhibition, a catalogue (English/Spanish) will be published at the end of February by the museum Reina Sofía, containing essay contributions by Christa Blümlingern, Boris Buden, Chus Martínez, Gerald Raunig, and Dieter Roelstraete.

Van Abbemuseum

Van Abbemuseum
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