Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art

What do you give a city that has been expanding, transforming, adapting to change and creating new traditions for 700 years? How about this year’s first-ever International Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art reflecting the city’s values – multiculturalism and innovation?

When: the festival’s opening event is on 23 January 2023 at 19:00 at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Main festival: 23 July – 6 August 2023 in various public places

The festival is turning the whole city into a stage with artists showcasing their works in a variety of public spaces: historical settings and new developments, parks, streets and indoor locations. Audiences will have the opportunity to experience live performances created especially for this event and celebrate the inauguration of this new cultural highlight in Vilnius. Through an exciting and thought-provoking programme, residents and visitors to the city will become acquainted with the work of international artists as well as Lithuanian works that have achieved global recognition. The city’s 700th anniversary is the perfect opportunity to create new traditions, so get involved and discover what it has to offer!

A new festival as a birthday present

Although Vilnius dates back 700 years and is rich with various architectural and urban structures reminiscent of its history, the country’s capital has a bright modern face. In celebration of its 700th anniversary, the idea to gift Vilnius a new tradition arose – the first Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art. Following its inaugural edition this year, future editions will take place every two years, creating a new cultural highlight and profile for the city.

This year’s festival will focus on the City of Vilnius: its historical and modern achievements, important dates, events, places and people. Emerging young talent at the beginning of their careers and established creators from Lithuania and beyond are performing works around the capital, exploring and reflecting upon the city’s complex past and present, as well as imagining its future. The Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art is an event that will contribute to the continued development of the multicultural and dynamic identity of Vilnius, shaping the face of a creative and bold modern city.

Vilnius as a performance art scene all year round

Vilnius is transforming into a stage to celebrate its 700th anniversary. The first and only event of this scale in the capital, the Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art, will take place this July in various public spaces and inside buildings around the city. The biennial’s organisers aren’t limiting the event to the summer season, either – they are hosting two more special events throughout the year. This month, a celebrated performance artist will commemorate the actual birthday of Vilnius, while additional events will take place in the autumn, during the annual Capital Days Festival.

The Director of the Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art is Diana Stomienė, is also the Director of Galerija Meno Niša – one of Vilnius’ leading contemporary art galleries – Head of the Art Vilnius Fair and a member of the Vilnius City Municipal Council. She is joined by Curator Neringa Bumblienė, who was selected to be the Artistic Director of the Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art.


© Rytis Šeškaitis

Performance – the art of live action

The idea to expand the boundaries of art and turn live action into art was born in the 1970s. Although performances are often rich in elements of music, theatre and dance, they are mostly created by representatives of the visual and interdisciplinary arts.

Performance as an artistic expression was introduced to the Lithuanian art scene only after the 1990s, when the country regained its independence. However, Lithuanian artists have been quick to catch up with their counterparts from around the world. As early as 2011, artist Darius Mikšys’ performative installation entitled Behind the White Curtain represented Lithuania at the Venice Biennale and was awarded a special jury prize. In 2019, the Sun and Sea (Marina) performance-opera created by Lina Lapelytė, Vaiva Grainytė and Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė won the Venice Biennales’ prestigious Golden Lion award and Lithuania became renowned across the world for its contribution to contemporary culture and performance art.

Today, many artists’ works incorporate performance art into their creations and regularly present their performances within exhibitions and art events. The Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art will provide an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with recent and current movements in performance art and reveal how its creators explore topics relevant to the world and Lithuania and creatively use the city’s spaces as venues.

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