On October 21th, 6 p.m. the exhibition “The Sun, the Moon, and all the Stars. The Orvidai homestead in photographs” is opening at the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center. The exhibition includes the photographs of Audrius Naujokaitis, Kristina Paulauskaitė, Leonardas Surgaila, film and video of Henrikas Šablevičius and Leonas Čerškus.
In Lithuania, everyone knows Vilius Orvidas (1952–1992) and his stone museum in the village of Gargždelė near Salantai. Some call it the museum of the absurd, and Orvidas a simple local fool deep in Žemaitija, others admire it. Here, in this area resembling the eye of God’s Providence, Orvidas hauled not only huge physical (stones) but also spiritual boulders. Consciously or not, the viewer feels that – you are confronted with something unusual, not completely understandable, but undoubtedly important.
Vilius Orvidas. A “fool” who started dragging stones from the surrounding areas to his parents’ homestead around 1973, to save them from the brutal melioration process. Spiritual Master – let this be a buzzword. After all, as can be seen from the memories of many who knew him, collected in the book “Kitoks Vilius Orvidas” (author D. Parulskienė), the impressive kingdom of stones created by Vilius attracted flocks of pilgrims during that wonderful, exalted period of Sąjūdis. Then several important circumstances coincided – the spirituality of Vilius, the energy of the place and the special spiritual upliftment, need, and thirst of the Lithuanian people.
People’s memories are dominated by the strangeness and specialness of Vilius, his relationships with his family, spiritual and esoteric things… However, Vilius was also an artist. Only his place in the history of Lithuanian art is undefined. In Lithuania, he is called a folk artist. Meanwhile, in Western countries, such cases are called outsider art. Outsiders are self-taught creators who have found themselves outside the boundaries of culture and the institutional cultural field, whose expression is characterized by spontaneity and authenticity. Outsider art is gaining interest in the world, it has already crossed the boundaries of “weird art” and is presented at the most important art events.
Sculptor Vladas Vildžiūnas and painter Vaidotas Žukas appreciated Vilius Orvidas as an artist.
Jonas Mekas also highly appreciated the unique place he created. He said that it is a world-class work that should be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and urged Lithuania to cherish and protect the Orvid homestead. In 2011, Mekas together with David Ellis presented the Orvidai homestead at the Serpentine Gallery in London. At that time, they spoke at the artists’ marathon, and Audrius Naujokaitis’s large-format photographs of the Orvidai homestead taken from an airplane were shown to agnès b. in Covent Garden (photos later lost).
This year, we are not only loudly celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jonas Mekas. This year, the 30th anniversary of the death of Vilius Orvidas was quietly and modestly remembered in Salantai. This exhibition is a sign of respect for both.
Exhibition curators: Oksana Judakova and Tomas Ivanauskas.
Exhibition partner: Nonprofit organization OirA Artless
Friends of the exhibition: Lithuanian Cinema Center, Vilnius City Municipality, Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania
The exhibition at the Jonas Mekos Visual Arts Center will be open until November 26.