Full name: Neringa Stoškutė
Currently lives and works in Kaunas, Lithuania
Organization: Kaunas Biennial
Areas of interest: different cultures and their traditions; contemporary art and design; audience-orientated cultural events; Socially engaged practice; Sense of place and being.
Favorite books: Books from the magical realism genre, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, Arundhati Roy “The God of Small Things”, Isabel Allende books, such as “The House of The Spirits”, and my favourite one “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind. I also enjoy reading novels that explore different cultures and take you on journeys, for example, Joanne Harris’ “Chocolat” or “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts.
Favorite films: I have a collection of over 500 DVDs, so it is difficult to pick my favourite films, but here we go (in no particular order): Memoirs of a Geisha, Gladiator and Jarhead – I’ve watched these films more than any other DVD I own. I love the visual identity and aesthetics of these films! The Fifth Element – Milla Jovovich is my favourite actress and I find her a very beautiful woman. I would say that she is my idol. And this film has everything: action, comedy, romance… what is not to like about it? 21 Grams and Amores peros – this is where I discovered the very talented director Alejandro González Iñárritu. He changed my perception of film and cinema. Memento – I’ll just leave it out there: it’s the best psychological thriller. The Breakfast Club – something from the “old days” which has a lot of resonance today as well. The Big Lebowski – after watching this film, White Russian became my favourite drink. Studio Ghibli films – they take you to another world and they always have a moral story behind them, told through the lens of fairy tales. Pulp Fiction, In Bruges, Burn After Reading, Inglorious Basterds, Seven Psychopaths, The Wolf of Wall Street – these are black comedies, which I enjoy watching over and over again. Reservoir Dogs, American History X, The Departed – some of the best crime dramas! Fight Club – well, you don’t talk about Fight Club.
My interest in curating began at a young age, working with the German photographer Bettina von Zwehl. At the age of sixteen, I assisted in preparing an exhibition encompassing the photographer’s work. After school, I went on to study Interior Design at the Glasgow School of Art, which gave me the ability to understand exhibitions as spatial design and to put the focus on the visitor. During my studies, I volunteered at the university’s Exhibitions Department and have also been involved in the exhibition process whilst on work experience placements with various design companies in Glasgow and London. This has further inspired my interest in curating. In 2011, I completed the MA Curating Contemporary Design programme run by Kingston University in partnership with the Design Museum London. Since graduating, I undertook curatorial projects with world-renowned London-based cultural institutions, such as The Garden Museum and Design Museum, as well as a small commercial gallery in North London. I also worked as Events and Projects administrator at the Crafts Council, organising one of their biggest public events of the year “COLLECT: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects”, which takes place at Saatchi Gallery London. In 2013, I was accepted onto the PhD programme at Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Arts, and I also started working with Kaunas Biennial. In 2013, I joined the biennial team as a volunteer and in 2015 I became the Audience Development Manager responsible for creating and implementing a 4-strand Educational Programme, encompassing tours, workshops, alternative school lessons and a programme of social inclusion. In 2017, I was appointed as the Project Manager and Emerging Curator of the Creative Europe Platform MAGIC CARPETS, responsible for the overall management of the platform and emerging artists’ residencies in Kaunas.
Why are you a part of MagiC Carpets?
Firstly, I want to expand my network of international contacts with artists as well as fellow curators, in order to share experiences with them, learn from each other and collaborate in future projects together. Secondly, I would like to develop my portfolio and career as a curator with meaningful and socially responsible art projects that make a difference to local people and are important to the local arts scene. Thirdly, I want to uncover hidden stories of the communities in Kaunas and tell them through the artists’ projects to the rest of Europe. I want to show that Kaunas is a very creative and progressive city in the field of arts.
Why have you chosen to be a curator or why has curatorship chosen you?
For me, being a curator is a way of life. I believe that this profession chose me rather than me choosing it. I got the first taste of it at school, but only after I finished my BA studies, I started to consider curating as a career path. I went on to study MA Curating Contemporary Design to gain more knowledge and practice in the field and I have not stopped since. I am interested in creating and telling stories. A big plus of this job is that it gives you the creative control of how you tell the stories. Of course, you bring them to life with a lot of help from a group of very talented people. Objects and the stories that they can tell fascinate me. And it is also important not to forget that you get to handle some pretty cool stuff! I remember when I was working on “Designed to Win” exhibition at the Design Museum and got to see an Audi R8 Le Mans race car up close. It was amazing! I love working with people and making new contacts. In this way, I learn about people’s experiences and views, their culture and practice. Another important thing is that you always work in an industry that is evolving and changing. You never work on the same project or with the same people over and over again. This ever-changing nature of being a curator is what excites me the most! You always learn new things, you always meet new people and you always develop new projects. It is a great place to develop and grow your own interests and experience.
What do you think is the purpose of art?
The purpose of art is to challenge, teach and inspire us. If it moves you, if it speaks to you, if it makes you think, if it changes you, then it has fulfilled its purpose.
Past projects you are proud of (before MC)?
10th Kaunas Biennial Educational Programme “Know, Learn, Create and Join in” invited art professionals, students and young people, children, families, the elderly and everyone interested or wanting to know more about contemporary art to a variety of events.
The programme consisted of four main parts:
KNOW – art and architecture historian and critic, musician and journalist-led curated tours around the Biennial exhibitions and non-museum based installations in [post]industrial sites.
LEARN – a programme of school lessons (physics, chemistry, geography, mathematics, music, drama, etc.) taught at Biennial venues by our team of educators.
CREATE – fun and creative family-friendly weekend activities at the Kaunas Central Post Office exhibition led by local artists.
JOIN IN – a special programme of curated workshops and seminars designed for people with special needs was delivered with the help of educators from the Lithuanian museums.
The last strand of the Educational Programme – JOIN IN – was particularly rewarding to work on, because for the first time in the history of Kaunas Biennial, we provided opportunities for those people who feel socially excluded to join in the Biennial programme and experience art through specially tailored workshops and activities. The participants of this programme included seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, young people with physical and intellectual disabilities, families with children, who have difficulties hearing or are deaf as well as other groups.
Contemporary Lithuanian Textile Exhibition “The Shroud of Time”. As one of the oldest techniques in human culture, textiles have many functions – clothe, decorate, adorn, cover, wrap, protect – all of which are in some way connected to the human form. While the relationship between textiles and the body has been an important aspect in traditional as well as contemporary textile making, the limitations and definitions of this relationship have been questioned, stretched and translated by contemporary artists. The exhibition entitled “The Shroud of Time” reflects both – material and transcendental origin of an art piece. With a notional link towards the Shroud of Turin, the exhibition suggests a way of comprehending these works as simulacrum of reality, as objects which cover the truth inside or sacral metamorphosis of personal experience, longing, and philosophy into the material, cloth, fabric that covers, but is naked itself at the very moment of visual contact with the viewer.
In recent decades, Lithuanian textile has been going through some exciting transitions: it has lost its grandeur and monumental status and become more conceptual, representational and respondent to the human form. The exhibition shows the many and varied ways in which contemporary artists are reinterpreting the function and form of textiles as well as the key role played by textiles in the development of an abstract visual language. The featured works reflect issues of materiality and function as well as challenging our perceptions of contemporary textile. Ranging from large-scale wall hangings to delicate textile objects and video animations extended to contemporary dance performances the artists push the limits of material and structure, function and disfunction.
Following the 2009 Lithuanian textile exhibition “Passionate Textile”, the 2014 edition “The Shroud of Time” surveys the contemporary field of Lithuanian textile and artists working with textile surfaces and techniques. Another edition awaits in 2019…