My eyes squint when the gallery gets dimmed and I struggle to indulge myself in the art that I've come to enjoy. Only later do I learn the gloom is part of the story about human suffering. Every time the lights are switched off, the rain starts pouring down in the adjacent room. Each drop of the water symbolises the tears of the people across the world. How can I blissfully immerse myself in the cultural experience this lovely summer afternoon when I’m kept disturbed by the strange cries?
The truth is, there's no escape from the harsh reality in this eye-opening exhibition called "Why is it Hard to Love", held at MO museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. Featuring multimedia installation by Dutch multimedia artist Saskia Boddeke and one of the most original filmmakers of our times Peter Greenaway, it tells the story about the most pressing issues of the world we live in: overload of (des)information, migration, religion, injustice, division, alienation and hatred. The whole squad of talented Lithuanian artists support this narrative with such media as painting and photography – the works that supposedly highlight historical trauma of the Lithuanian nation.
While S. Boddeke’s poem is illustrated with disconcerting pictures of the latest migration crises, the trauma of the Lithuanian nation isn’t so obvious. There're individual narratives about human existence rather than direct references to the Soviet occupation which makes the exhibition almost painfully existentialist.
The twin brothers A. and R. Gataveckas don’t need to look very far beyond their lives when they address this unsettling question, why is it hard to love. Raised in an orphanage home, they embody the issue of love at a very personal level. Somehow I’m not surprised that these young artists have chosen to showcase their father’s portrait next to their autoportraits. Would anyone doubt that the roots of the entire world’s problems are buried in parent and child relationships? It’s paramount to note that there’s always a choice to be made by a free human being. In spite of the personal tragedy, the brothers didn’t throw themselves off a cliff. Instead, they took the responsibility to consciously lead their lives. Come down to the exhibition to see where they are now!
Like I said, other Lithuanian artists don’t directly call attention to the historical facts of Lithuania but that doesn’t mean I was disappointed to see them. A crooked history is a symptom of broken personal lives and putting those lives into spotlight really helped me address and understand the main theme of the exhibition.
The main theme is dictated by the Boddeke’s poem conveyed in the multimedia installation that has travelled to some parts of the world before. I strongly recommend watching the video of the poem at least twice so that you give yourself more time to reflect on who to believe, what makes us unite and why your fears are in the way of personal and global equilibrium in the world, where not only you but other humans are trying to live, too.
"Why Is It Hard to Love"
Open until 31 January 2021
Pylimo g. 17, Vilnius 01141, Lithuania