The step towards UNESCO is a challenge not only for architectural and urban planning professionals but for every citizen of Kaunas and the Kaunas district. This is where “Modernism for the Future”, one of the key programs of Kaunas 2022, comes in. It aims to awaken responsibility for our environment and create a strong emotional connection with the urban landscape and heritage.

How modern is Kaunas?

During the interwar period, Kaunas and the Kaunas district became the epicenter of important events in Lithuania and Europe. This period has left some 6,000 buildings created in the modernist spirit.

They are not only buildings but also places, ideas, authors, builders and developers. Their destinies too. To have such a condensed heritage enriched by various individual histories and meanings is a great treasure. It is a living testimony to the history of the period of prosperity and modernization that changed daily habits and coincided with significant changes in European and global cities, urban places and their residences. In a short time, Modernism has become a dominant architectural style. However, most of these buildings are in poor condition, forgotten, abandoned, and even today empty. Modernism for the Future, with its long list of partners, aims to change that.

First steps

“Modernism for the Future” is an open space for initiatives and meetings, welcoming professionals from various fields, building owners, heritage communities and representatives of cultural initiatives for discussions, workshops of ideas. , art and culture, which together create the strategy of preservation, interpretation and dissemination of modernist heritage.

Symbolically, the program has chosen to creatively enable 360 ​​buildings in 365 days next year. The number 360 symbolizes all possible perspectives of modernism: cultural, political, economic and more, while the number 365 asks us to notice the daily heritage.
The project includes the heritage community assembled on a website, collecting and sharing knowledge about Modernist objects, their inhabitants and events in Kaunas and other Lithuanian and European cities. The dissemination of good practices, creative workshops, educational activities, as well as calls for artistic interpretations of modernism and artistic projects in modernist spaces are all part of the project’s program.

The first international conference “Modernism for the Future” took place in Kaunas in 2018. Two international summer schools have already been organized as part of the program. The first explored downtown Kaunas; the second took the students to the Kačerginė seaside resort in the Kaunas district. In 2021 and 2022, the school is organized by Kaunas University of Technology.

A unique film for an international audience

Perhaps the most unexpected idea of ​​”Modernism for the Future” is a film that will premiere at international festivals. ‘Pleats / Folds’, directed by Irish artist Aideen Barry, tells the story of Kaunas modernism and its value to future generations using stop motion animation. Students, volunteers, inhabitants of Modernist buildings, creative writing enthusiasts, dancers and even the Mythical Beast of Kaunas co-created the film.

“A video art project aimed at an international audience has already been considered when preparing the candidacy for Kaunas 2022 – the initial idea was to include local figures in the history of Kaunas’ unique architecture from between the wars, “Viltė Migonytė-Petrulienė, the curator of” Modernism of the Future, “recalls. She explains that inviting Aideen Barry added ambition to the idea – the artist is known for pay a lot of attention to social topics, including local communities. According to the curator, “Pleats / Folds”, a creative playground for the people of Kaunas and Kaunas District, is no exception. The process of making of the film included art workshops as therapy, game and learning medium, while the outcome is as important as the path. It is a collective message to Europe and the world about the modernist Kaunas of future, as well as on his greatest treasure – the people who love the city.

From electronic music to the investigation of shame

“Modernism for the Future” has already planned various collaborations with local and foreign partners for 2022.

‘MoFu 360/365’ is a project funded by the European Union program ‘Creative Europe 2014–2020’ exploring connections with other European cities, from East, Center to West. Participants in the two-year Kaunas 2022 project (Lithuania), Institute for Cultural Strategy (Lviv, Ukraine), interdisciplinary arts center ‘Vaizard, z.ú.’ (Brno, Czech Republic), the regional development associations of the Kortrijk region and the intergovernmental heritage organization ‘Intercommunale Leiedal’ (Belgium) and its partners in Tel Aviv (Israel) invite artists, local researchers and the community heritage, to create 17 artistic projects in modernist buildings.

Unique projects will reinforce the narrative of Europe’s modernist heritage and seek to reflect its contemporary importance to global society. The final result of the project will be presented during the opening weekend of the European Capital of Culture 2022 exhibition at the Central Post Office in Kaunas. The exhibition will last four months.

In 2022, the Kaunas Territorial Division of the Historical Association of Lithuanian Artists will launch the 100 Images of Kaunas project: a series of creative works and art exhibitions held in 40 public and residential spaces in Kaunas and the district of Kaunas. Kaunas, built during the interwar years. period.

The Reciprocal Residency Program DeMo (Decoding Modernity) is an exchange program during which residents will have the opportunity to analyze the development processes of modernity in various social and cultural contexts. DeMo, a three-year program (2020-2022) of Kaunas Artists’ House, in collaboration with the Londonderry Center for Contemporary Art, the Thankyouforcoming residency program in Nice, the Center Culturel LAB in Novi Sad, and other partners invite artists, curators, cultural researchers and multidisciplinary collectives to explore the potential connections, overlaps and divergences between the different forms and expressions of modernity.

The Kaunas Division of the Union of Lithuanian Architects will launch three projects in 2022 to creatively analyze and tell the architectural story of Kaunas during the 20th century. The first project, [In]visible Architecture by Rasa Chmieliauskaitė, aims to encourage visually impaired people to discover their architectural environments through the use of new tactile tools. The second project, Architecture of Desire by Tautvydas Urbelis, is a continuation of the international partnership with the Architecture of Shame project in Matera, Italy, in 2019. There, the artists analyzed the expression of shame in the local architecture. In Kaunas, the author will present a creative interpretation linked to expressions of desire in the spaces of Kaunas City. In addition, award-winning architect Gintaras Balčytis and his team will present an exciting program of the Kaunas Architecture Festival which will include exhibitions, workshops and a forum.

Good Music Live (Gera Muzika Gyvai in Lithuanian) aims to familiarize Lithuanian audiences with world music – a genre of music that embraces both modernity and tradition by merging deeply rooted traditions with the feelings and experiences of a modern person. In 2022, Good Music Live will present the musical program World Music for Kaunas – a series of events in Modernist buildings in Kaunas and the Kaunas district, with concerts all year round in apartments, public facilities and built spaces. during the interwar period.

Digital Tsunami, an underground music platform, is organizing a festival called Optimismo. It will celebrate modern electronic music and architecture, using contemporary experimental music to reveal the relevance and value of modernist heritage and architecture in Kaunas. In 2022, Digital Tsunami will enrich the many spaces of the city with a symbiosis between music and contemporary technological solutions.

Kaunas Dance Theater AURA is the very first modern dance theater in Lithuania. His project Pulsating Modernism of Kaunas by AURA includes a series of interactive guided tours accompanied by live performances. Initiated in 2022, the program will be an opportunity to discover Kaunas modernism from another angle.

Kaunas Photography Gallery is currently organizing a Photography – A Document for the Future residency program, which will provide the opportunity to analyze and represent Kaunas modernism in an international context. The project will welcome residents from Germany, Scotland, the Netherlands and more to present their interpretations of Kaunas modernism.

The MK Čiurlionis National Art Museum, known as the crown jewel of Kaunas Modernism, also has several departments in other historic buildings in Kaunas, namely houses and apartments of celebrities in the in-between. wars. The A. and P. Galaunė House-Museum has already opened an exhibition, ‘Arno Funk[tionalism]’, dedicated to one of the most active architects of Kaunas’ golden age.

“Modernism for the Future” is just one of the many Kaunas 2022 programs that are helping Kaunas and its district become a contemporary capital and a major European stage. In 2022, it will be a city where we cannot escape culture.

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