Exhibition: 22 April, 2023 – 28 January, 2024
The novel takes place in Vilnius, but the city itself is the protagonist. That’s why the exhibition – an immersive Vilnius Poker installation at the MO Museum – is celebrating both the history of Vilnius and taking a critical look at the experience and future of the modern city.
Oskaras Koršunovas, the artistic director of the OKT Theatre, and Gintaras Makarevičius, the architect/set designer of the exhibition, interpret the character of Vilnius presented in the novel while looking for a unique harmony in a combination of the artworks from the MO Museum collection, as well as artworks created and borrowed especially for this occasion. Discover Vilnius as the capital of creative rebellion at the MO Museum!
In 1989, Ričardas Gavelis published the cult novel Vilnius Poker, which became the world’s most famous Lithuanian novel about Vilnius and the most translated Lithuanian book. This novel depicts the complete deconstruction of the collapsing Soviet system and is one of the first Lithuanian books examining the city and its citizens. Vilnius is one of the most important characters here, as the search for national and cultural identity is revealed through the point of view of the city. You will not find one truth, one storyline or one answer here. Thus, Vilnius Poker can be considered one of the first works of postmodern Lithuanian literature.
The novel remains relevant today – for the Western world it is a great opportunity to look behind the Iron Curtain, and for residents of Vilnius it’s a chance to see how the city has changed.
It was not by chance that Ričardas Gavelis’s Vilnius Poker was chosen as the starting point for the exhibition being created at the MO Museum for Vilnius’s anniversary. The time setting of the novel and the year that the novel was published are important factors that are reflected in the exhibits. Although the exhibition is not a direct illustration of the novel, it does convey the novel’s atmosphere.
The main time setting of the novel – the late Soviet period – was the time of the most vibrant work of the artists who make up the bulk of the MO Museum collection. However, in addition to the period of Soviet occupation, the exhibition also covers the deeper past as well as the present and future. With the help of 150 exhibits, the exhibition examines and freely interprets key topics in Gavelis’s novel – memory, identity, freedom and the enslaved mind. Guests are invited to reflect on their relationship with the city and with themselves.
Visitors to the exhibition will get to know one of the most prominent stages in the history of Vilnius that strongly contributed to the formation of the city that we see today. The exhibition is set up as an allusion to a labyrinth formed by thematic spaces, where different moods are created by lighting and sound solutions as well as the pieces on display. After crossing the river of memory from the Soviet capsule, visitors will immerse themselves in the grotesque, discover the freedom of jazz and improvisation, explore visions and reality, or search for experiments of freedom.
The exhibition has been deliberately entrusted to director Oskaras Koršunovas and artist Gintaras Makarevičius. Oskaras Koršunovas, a famous Lithuanian theatre director known in the world for his critical, sharp and topical works since 1990, staged his first performance of “There to be Here” in Vilnius and started a new chapter in the history of Lithuanian theatre. He reflected the reality of the time depicted in Ričardas Gavelis’ Vilnius Poker through the absurd.
Gintaras Makarevičius often remains a person behind the scenes, watching real or imaginary groups of society on camera. However, the veil of reality is also lifted in the theatre where he creates scenographies for performances. The artistic duo have sought unconventional, inclusive solutions for the Vilnius Poker exhibition, inviting visitors to become spectators as well as participants. The immersive installation shows residents of Vilnius a city from the recent past and reveals the unprecedented face of the city to visitors from abroad.
The opening of the Vilnius Poker exhibition at the MO Museum on 22 April was accompanied by the opening MOraton Festival, bringing an additional layer to the exhibition theme. The festival was full of educational activities, talks and events. It’s also going to be possible to visit the exhibition even if you cannot come to Vilnius – a virtual exhibition tour will make it accessible from anywhere.More information