Concept - Kauno Bienalė


14th Kaunas Biennial: Long-distance Friendships

Every experience has an inner and an outer side to it.
For the 14th Kaunas Biennial (Lithuania) and the 14th edition of Contemporary Art Festival Survival Kit (Latvia), co-curators Alicia Knock and Inga Lāce gather almost 40 artists across two cities to present Long-distance Friendships. These sister exhibitions of the same name—which open 25 August in Kaunas and 7 September in Riga, respectively—invite visitors to engage with stories of transnational solidarity, resistance and resilience, from post-socialist and post-colonial world where microhistories of friendships and encounters become a starting point for contemporary alliances.

Long-distance Friendships will invest in defunct infrastructures—the former Kaunas post office and a concrete warehouse in Kaunas Fortress Park, and Vidzeme Market in Riga—providing opportunities for reimagining them in the present. What new kinds of transactions might be supported, whether based on exchange and gifting or on fragmentation and impossibility? How can we foster long-distance solidarity, both in relation to Ukraine and against russian imperialism, but also in response to other colonial and neo-colonial wars and anti-imperial struggles? The sites in Kaunas and Riga will form a joint and complementary backdrop against which the intimate research journeys of Long-distance Friendships are presented. Knock and Lāce have chosen to engage with contemporary artists with strong ties to Africa and Eastern Europe across diaspora and within an open-ended transnational research. Some artists will exhibit exclusively at each exhibition, others will present ongoing and transitory works on-view across both sites.

Co-curators Knock and Lāce elaborate:

“This project attempts to connect histories of the relationship between Africa and Eastern Europe that are linked more closely than many are aware of. Our choice of the venues for each event is not a coincidence. The old central post office in Kaunas and the market in Riga are both collapsed spaces for exchange and togetherness. The histories of each space echo that of the people who inhabited them. By drawing on these personal histories, we are using traces of times past to invite artists to propose alternative perspectives for the future. In a time of geopolitical fragmentation, it is important to strive for international alliances that are forged through friendship and collaboration rather than power dynamics.”