„Hope!“ the low echoes from the shore replied,
The valleys and the forest Konrad woke,
And laughing wildly, answered, “Where am I?”
To hear in this place – hope? Wherefore this
I do recall thy vanished happiness.
Three lovely daughters from one mother born,
And thou the first demanded as a bride.
Woe unto you, fair flowers! woe to you!
A fearful viper crept into the garden.
And where the reptile‘s livid breast has touched
The grass is withered and the roses fade,
And yellow as the reptile‘s bosom grow.
Fly from the present in thought; recall the days
Which thou hadst spent in joyousness without –
Thou‘rt silent! Raise thy voice again and curse;
Let not the dreadful tear which pierces stones
Perish in vain. My helmet I‘ll remove.
Here let it fall; I am prepared to suffer;
Would learn betimes what waiteth me in hell.*
* Konrad Wallenrod by Adam Mickiewicz. London: Trubner & Co., Ludgate Hill. 1882. Translation from Polish by Maude Ashurst Biggs
Thus wrote the great Polish-Lithuanian (or Lithuanian-Polish?) romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), who lived in Kaunas for several years in a house that once stood on this spot. During the interwar period, Mickiewicz’s old cottage was still here, stuck at an angle on the increasingly rectilinear street grid in Kaunas’ city centre – a 19th century invasion into the 20th century modernist city. The problem was solved during Communist times – from then until now, a socialist dwelling house of improved design stands here. And only a 100 meters away from this spot is Daržų Street where Lithuanian Intelligence dug up the Polska Organizacja Wojskowa archive and thus Pilsudki’s plans for a federation in 1920’s came to an abrupt end.
Our Mickiewicz has seen a large wooden model for a Mickiewicz monument in interwar Vilnius that was destroyed by the spring floods, he has seen a pensive Mickiewicz made of granite next to St. Anne’s Church, and a pile of the “Dziady” reliefs to be installed in the base of another Mickiewicz monument – in the same place where bronze Chernyakhovsky was later erected and now stands a monument to Kudirka. Our Mickiewicz has also been to the Neon Museum in Warsaw. Our Mickiewicz is a 20th century neon invasion into the 21st century Kaunas. Does he know where he is? You are here.
Jonas Oškinis and Raimundas Krukonis
„Gdziež jestem?“ (“Where am I?”). Adam Mickewicz. 2017
A. Mickevičiaus g. 56, Kaunas
More info: https://bienale.lt/2017/en/jonasoskinis-raimundaskrukonis-1/