Four Exercises of Togetherness

Four Exercises of Togetherness

Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, Pro-test Lab, 2005-2007.

Four Exercises of Togetherness

Admission starts at $5

October 28, 2023, 5pm
172 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Join us at e-flux Screening Room on Saturday, October 28 at 5pm for a screening of films by Oleksiy Radynski, Katrīna Neiburga, and Gintaras Makarevičius. The screening is curated by Audrius Pocius and Edvardas Šumila and organized in collaboration with the conference The Ecologies of Education: Interrogating Environment, Society, and Subjectivity at the New School. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the curators and the artist duo Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas. 

This program is conceived as a constellation of films and projects by Eastern European artists from the last two decades, juxtaposed to articulate aspects of societal change as a reciprocal negotiation between the private and the public spheres. This approach is highly influenced by a Benjaminian view of history as debris and decay and questions the feasibility and limits of utopian thinking. By rearranging dissociated elements of history in the context of both, the colonial pasts (in this case, the post-Soviet heritage) as well as the present crisis of the future (ecological and economic, but also cultural) the program aims for a critical, yet hopeful interpretation of futurity. It is an attempt to reevaluate the power of commitment within political and social systems and ask how we could radically shape how we imagine social and public space. The relationship between the transformative practices of the social is not coincidental to this also being a regional take. If we believe that societal change is best reflected at the core of salvaging its forgotten historical nexus, the post-Soviet realm shows itself as the ominous playground of this dynamic, where memory, colonial past, social transition, and the imaginary had to forcefully reshape and sublate its history, now to be reclaimed and reflected upon.

The program is composed of four parts, including three films and an artist talk. The film Vaskiči by Gintaras Makarevičius (2004, Lithuania) functions here as a metonymy for the contemporary negotiation of (political) space. The kids are playing a war game while being observed by the voyeuristic gaze of the camera, which, although providing a spectacle, never allows for an understanding of the game dynamic as a whole. Landslide by Oleksiy Radinskiy (2016, Ukraine) is the closest take on utopia—something that the community depicted in the film aimed at achieving “here and now,” with the simultaneous realization of the fragile and temporal conditions of such a possibility. In Katrīna Neiburga’s The T-shroom (2000, Latvia), bacteria used to make kombucha evoke a synecdoche that speaks about certain forgotten rituals and habits of the past that are still practiced privately, and can be recharged and actualized in a reflective way.

The program, which is part of the project “Theory of Milieu: Philosophical Premises of Environmental Education” conceived and directed by Kristupas Sabolius (Vilnius University and MIT), will also include the archival material of Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas’s Pro-test Lab, a project that started as a call to reclaim public space in Lithuania and, in particular, to save the largest cinema theater in Vilnius from being demolished. With the artists present, we will bring this program to a close by discussing the experience of social collisions and change, and the current state of envisaging our futures.


Oleksiy Radynski, Landslide (2016, 28 minutes)
Landslide is a film about an attempt to build “a society which will be radically different from everything else that surrounds us” (to quote the film’s protagonists). This attempt takes place in the very center of Kyiv, in an area reclaimed by the forces of nature. Landslides, degradation of urban politics, and disintegration of social ties have led to the emergence of an anarchic, uncontrolled enclave in the city center. That is how the idea of “utopia, here and now” was born. Representatives of street art, music scene, theater, avant-garde, etc. take part in the making of this utopia.

Katrīna Neiburga, The T-shroom (2000, 11 minutes)
T-shroom is a social art project by Katrīna Neiburga and Art bureau OPEN who brought together a team of cultural practitioners to promote the symbolic values of the tea-mushroom through the use of social campaigns and branding tools. Tea-mushroom or kombucha—a bacterial organism in a form visually similar to jellyfish—has been a popular home-made “soft-drink” in the Baltic states and Russia for more than a century. Brought back by soldiers as a trophy of the Russian-Japanese war, it became a widespread household item and had a pet-like family status. In 1999, Latvian artists smuggled a t-shroom across the border of Sweden as an alleged Eastern European refugee, endangered in its homeland by the invasion of global soft drink brands like Coca-Cola. By exploring the microhistories of people revolving around the cultivation of the tea-mushroom, the film effectively transforms the latter into a synecdoche that serves as a marker of both a memory of the past as well as the uncertain expectation of the future. 

Gintaras Makarevičius, Vaskiči (2004, 16 minutes)
Vaskichi is the name of a popular children’s team game. The film depicts children playing out a military battle, and poses a voyeuristic gaze that obscures our ability to perceive what is actually happening. The constant renegotiation of the rules between the children is reminiscent of political negotiations. According to the filmmaker, a lot of directorial decisions were made by the kids themselves, who were allowed to be on both sides of the frame—as actors within and without. The perception of the film shifts with time: As we watch it retrospectively, it seems a testament to the constant change of social circumstances and our ability to salvage them through the exposition of particular events that we tend to neglect in the everyday context.

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–Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue.         
–For elevator access, please RSVP to The building has a freight elevator that leads into the e-flux office space. The entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space.                  
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the Screening Room and this bathroom.

Experimental Film, Video Art, History, Public Space, Eastern Europe, Post-Communism

Audrius Pocius (b. 1991) is a curator and philosopher currently based in Vilnius. His philosophical interests lie between aesthetics, critical theory, and philosophy of education, and he is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute of Philosophy at Vilnius University. In his curatorial practices he is mainly focused on the conceptual and performative aspects of art and their potency for social and cultural critique. Audrius has been a curator and educator at CAC Vilnius up until he co-founded Swallow space for contemporary art together with his co-conspirators. He is also the director of Medūza – Lithuanian Artists‘ Association‘s space for contemporary art and culture. He lectures on various topics related to philosophy, aesthetics, and contemporary art at Vilnius University, Vilnius Academy of Art, and Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Edvardas Šumila is a scholar, writer, and curator, currently a PhD candidate at The New School for Social Research. He started off as a pianist and entered the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where he became interested in scholarship and his activities turned to musicology. Gradually, he established his interests mainly in critical theory, aesthetics and politics, artistic intersectionality, and political commitment with a particular focus on the thought of Theodor W. Adorno. Recently he has been working on the theories of Second Nature in relation to the theories of the environment. He is one of the founders and curators of AHEAD, a festival for electronic sound practices, and has curated and directed a number of other festivals, events, and exhibitions.

Founded by Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas (artists and educators, b. Lithuania) Urbonas Studio is an interdisciplinary research practice that facilitates exchange amongst diverse nodes of knowledge production and artistic practice in pursuit of projects that transform civic spaces and collective imaginaries. In collaboration with experts from different cultural and professional fields, Urbonas Studio develops practice-based research models merging a variety of materials and techniques from new media, urbanism, social science, pedagogy, and ecology. Often beginning with archival research, Urbonas Studio deploys a methodology of organizational aesthetics to create complex participatory works that investigate the urban environment, cultural and technological sphere, and challenges of new climatic regimes.

Katrīna Neiburga is a renowned Latvian contemporary artist. She is the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious Purvitis Award, and has represented Latvia at the Venice Biennale. Neiburga’s main medium is video, although it can be extended to the moving image in general. Overall, the artist uses the camera as a magnifying glass, expressing a socio-anthropological interest in the everyday, and zooming in on ordinary people leading ordinary lives. By providing a close look at somewhat unnoticed or ignored phenomena, she unearths micro-worlds, and provides visibility to people, objects, settings, and stories that would otherwise not be told.

Oleksiy Radynski is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. His films have been screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Docudays IFF, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), S A V V Y Contemporary (Berlin), and e-flux (New York) among other places, and have received a number of festival awards.

Gintaras Makarevičius is a Lithuanian artist, set designer, and film director. His work includes documentaries, video installations, performances, objects, and scenography. He has participated in several international exhibitions such as Manifesta 4 in Germany (2002) and La Rochelle International Film Festival in France (2005). In 2008, he was awarded the Main Prize of the Film Festival of Lugano, Switzerland, for his documentary film Winter Parallels. His works have been acquired by the National Gallery of Art of Lithuania, the KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art in Finland, the MO Museum, and private collections.

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