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? In 2023, the first International Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art will take place, reflecting the city’s values – multiculturalism and innovation.

©Rasa Juškevičiūtė, Sebastian Kriete

The festival will turn 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. Viewers will have the opportunity to experience unique 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 time 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 anniversary, the idea to gift Vilnius a new tradition arose – the first Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art. Following its inaugural edition in 2023, further editions will take place every two years, creating a new cultural highlight and profile for the city.

The first 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 will perform their 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 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 will become 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 in July 2023 in public spaces and inside various buildings around the city. The biennial’s organisers aren’t limiting the event to the summer season, either. In 2023, they will host two more special events. In January 2023, a celebrated performance artist will commemorate the real 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, 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 become 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 in other parts of the world. As early as 2011, artist Darius Mikšys’ performative installation 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 work incorporate performance art into their work and regularly present their performances within exhibitions and art events. The Vilnius Biennial for Performance Art provides an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with recent and current movements in performance art and see how its creators explore topics relevant to the world and Lithuania and creatively use the city’s spaces as a venue.

Find out more about the project

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