“Say it again: someone has built this city in a desert. A saline sea sways over it, like some sister, in the warm currents coming from the more marginal seas that feed it. Weightlessness and weighted politics. If making visible is itself a mode of extraction, this bringing all to light and surface, how can your images resist such pillage? You are not pillaging the sunken city, though, you are swimming it. Count before you go deeper into it: one, two, three, four, five—now go.”
— Quinn Latimer, 2021
Vilnius Biennial of Performance Art (VB23) is a new and ongoing international event dedicated to contemporary performance art, organised by Vilnius City Gallery Meno Niša as an official part of Vilnius’ 700th-anniversary programme. Its director is Diana Stomienė and its artistic director is Neringa Bumblienė.VB23 consists of works by guest artists, curated by Neringa Bumblienė, and works by artists selected by an international jury, formed of Maria Arusoo, Neringa Bumblienė and Joanna Zielińska, through an open call. The Biennial will showcase 18 performances by both international and Lithuanian artists with nearly half being new works commissioned and produced by VB23.
The main focus of the inaugural Biennial is the city of Vilnius, but also a city per se, as a human-made and human-dominated environment that we share with other life forms, where different histories, myths, activities, interests, desires and visions collide, coexist and overlap. The city as an organism that is born, and thrives, but also dies or is killed, as is presently happening so close to Vilnius, in Ukraine. The city as an artificial but living structure with certain rules, certain trajectories of circulation that some life forms follow and others choose to disregard, creating new ones. The city as a dense network knitted with both visible and invisible threads and charged with various tensions. The city as a platform and a stage.
The opening event of VB23 was held on January 23, 2023 with the performance Aphotia—a new large-scale work by Emilija Škarnulytė at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre as part of the curated programme. The Biennial’s main programme will run from 23 July to 6 August, 2023 in public and semi-public spaces across Vilnius.
The curated programme consists of works by Pedro Barateiro, Eglė Budvytytė and Marija Olšauskaitė, Adam Christensen*, Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė, Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle*, Eye Gymnastics (Viktorija Damerell and Gailė Griciūtė)*, Kris Lemsalu*, Robertas Narkus*, and Emilija Škarnulytė* who presented her work earlier this year.
The open call programme consists of works by Teo Ala-Ruona, BRUD (with Juan Pablo Villegas, Virginija Januškevičiūtė, Post Brothers, and others)*, a collaboration by Aleksandra Janus, Weronika Pelczyńska and Monika Szpunar, Rūta Junevičiūtė*, a collaboration by Justė Kostikovaitė, Laima Kreivytė and Eileen Myles*, a collaboration by Yulia Krivic, Marta Romankiv and Weronika Zalewska*, Keithy Kuuspu, Jacopo Miliani, and Pontus Pettersson.
*New works commissioned and produced by VB23.