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Uncovering the Hidden: Celebrating Local Art in a Global Context


Agnė Tuskevičiūtė
Ugnė Pavlovaitė | Kaunas Biennial Feb 22, 2024
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“…communities often need a push or some kind of incentive. Once that happens, the flower of community blooms” – Brigita Bareikytė (Lithuania, Kaunas Biennial)

 

Exploring the unfamiliar and celebrating local art on a global stage is the driving force behind an exciting and inspiring journey. In this captivating episode of our interview series, we introduce a rising art professional who is making a significant impact in the world of art curation. Meet Brigita Bareikytė, a young and ambitious individual with an intense passion for uncharted aspects of the art world. Her decisions in this challenging field are guided by her unique perspective.

Brigita, representing the Kaunas Biennial on the Magic Carpets platform, embodies the spirit of our series – exploration and dedication to the arts. As we spoke, it became evident that her area of expertise extends far beyond mere curation. It’s a study of human creativity that bridges the gap between art and people’s everyday lives, offering a glimpse into the boundless potential of the human mind. She will be our guide as we seek hidden treasures in the world of art that the general public rarely gets to see.

Brigita’s journey into the vibrant art world began in an unconventional yet inspiring way: “I actually started in a completely different field. My bachelor’s degree was in economics, and I spent four years working in finance, managing the accounts and finances of international companies. However, my love for art has always been a constant presence within me.” She pursued a Master’s in Art Curation at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. “I could say that my curiosity about the art world, my desire to understand how it operates, and the processes leading to the final results we see in exhibitions – all of this led me to pursue a Master’s degree.” A transformative internship at Kaunas Biennial during her studies drastically changed her career path. She reflects, “I’ve been working at the Kaunas Biennial ever since. That’s the path I’ve taken, and I’m extremely content with it.”

Brigita defines herself by her ability to seamlessly blend economic knowledge with an artistic vision. “The basic understanding of life and the world that I’ve retained from my previous experiences comes in handy,” she openly admits. “I aim to assess everything in advance, not just from an artistic and emotional perspective but also from a rational standpoint.” Brigita is devoted to drawing attention to undiscovered works of art and collaborates with non-profit organizations and local communities to achieve this goal. Her approach highlights a growing trend in the curation field, which is all about recognizing and promoting hidden talents, reflecting a universal desire to connect art with communities. Her diverse background and approach provide a fascinating perspective, challenging traditional paradigms and opening up new avenues for artistic discovery and collaboration.

Unlocking Creativity: A Journey Through Patriotism and Community in Art

Brigita is embarking on a truly unique artistic journey, one filled with questions and uncharted depths. “I’m not entirely sure how to answer that question,” she says when asked about her motivation to explore the hidden world of art. “From my perspective, it’s about emphasising local art and context. What sparks my interest in this? Why am I trying to place it on the global stage? I’m not certain. Maybe my outgoing nature has always drawn me to others, and I could say I’m a patriot.” Her reflections have led her to acknowledge her profound appreciation for her homeland and its people, which she finds inspiring for her curation work: “I have a deep love for Lithuania and its people, and this love may well have inspired me to do what I do now… I believe Lithuania is full of unique and creative individuals, and my aim is to showcase them and Lithuania’s creative potential to the world, while also bringing new ideas from around the world back to Lithuania.”

She advocates for artistic collaborations and a fresh perspective on national identity. “I think our society has a streak of introversion,” she remarks. “They aren’t entirely closed off, but from what I’ve observed, communities often require a nudge or some form of incentive. Once that happens, the community flourishes.” Brigita believes in awakening people’s sociability through creativity and art, especially through the Magic Carpets platform, stating, “From my perspective, this catalyst is creativity and art, particularly within the context of the Magic Carpets platform.”

Her approach to community-building is sensitive and respectful, as she believes that “natural inclusivity within a community is paramount, not a forced invitation to come together.” Her great passion for her hometown inspires her to forge connections through community-focused art projects. Her work within the Magic Carpets platform exemplifies the power of community involvement in art, and she believes that “perhaps this field hasn’t been fully explored, and I think there’s a lot more to do.”

Brigita’s extroverted nature, patriotism, and ability to see untapped potential paint a portrait of a curator devoted to expressing and promoting Lithuanian culture. Her thoughts serve as a reminder that art is more than just a pastime; it’s a representation of the human experience, a means of communication, and a way to unite societies. Brigita’s journey demonstrates how art can serve as a global language, bridging gaps, fostering understanding, and embracing diversity.

Exploring the World of Art Through a Listening Heart

In this section of the interview, we delve into Brigita’s work as a curator, including her approach to identifying talent, promoting local art, and encouraging cultural diversity. When asked about spotting unique artistic talent, Brigita emphasises the importance of attentive listening. “In my view, the most crucial thing is to listen and keep listening to the voice of the community. And then listen to the voices of individual people within that community. And not just listen, but really tune in and hear them.” Her keen ability to discern the artistic nuances hidden within the everyday noise leads her to discover those quiet yet immensely talented individuals.

As we dig deeper to learn more about Brigita, we compare her to a diplomat and mediator due to her empathy and openness. She elaborates, “I’m not sure if it’s a formal job description, but when curating projects that involve the community, it seems that academic knowledge isn’t the most critical factor, right? Or having a theoretical background as a curator… It appears that being a very open and empathetic person is essential.”

The conversation shifts its focus to Brigita’s discoveries and contributions. She refrains from naming a specific artist or artwork, underscoring the importance of recognizing and supporting anyone who contributes to bringing art into communities. She expresses how her work brings about positive change and inspires others. “Well, it brings me joy and a sense of responsibility,” she continues, “because when a change goes well, you don’t want to let go of it.” Brigita remains hopeful that the initiative or creative process that initiated the transformation will continue to gain momentum and have a positive impact.

As the discussion turns to local artistic creation and global integration, Brigita’s approach underscores the importance of preserving cultural authenticity. She emphasises the need to allow authenticity to emerge organically in creative processes rather than imposing it. When it comes to diversity, Brigita envisions various ways to support underrepresented artists and broaden audiences. She explains, “It’s crucial when creating exhibitions or other cultural events to ensure that these events are accessible to a broad spectrum of people and to strive to remove physical and even emotional barriers.” Her perspective extends beyond art, embracing all levels of engagement.

Finally, the conversation delves into the concept of taste in art, which Brigita sees as both individual and cultural. She states, “Well, that’s a matter of personal perspective. I believe it’s also influenced by one’s cultural background and upbringing. However, I’m not entirely sure that aggressively shaping one’s taste is necessary. Perhaps it’s more important to cultivate values.” For Brigita, taste is a unique facet of each individual, arising from their values and intuition. Taste goes beyond mere likes and dislikes; it serves as a path to self-discovery and cultural understanding. It’s not merely about sensory attraction; it’s about the resonance with our core. Understanding our preferences can help us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our surroundings.

Brigita’s observations unveil a world of curators characterized by attentive listening, empathy, authenticity, and diversity. Her belief in innate creativity and her sensitive approach to art and culture reflect a profound appreciation for the local, the hidden, and the unexplored. Her remarks resonate with wisdom and humility, painting a picture of a curator driven by a passion for art and a commitment to its freedom of expression. Her vision extends beyond aesthetics, reaching the core of community and human connection.

Curating in the Twenty-First Century: A Contemporary Look at the Field

The intersection of local and global art scenes sheds light on the complexities of cultural differences and language barriers that often arise as a result of this fusion. Brigita notes, “The primary challenge is likely cultural differences. These differences can also extend to language since communication and the exchange of ideas are always at the forefront. Listening and being heard are key.” Rather than viewing these differences negatively, Brigita emphasizes the importance of openness and acceptance, focusing on commonalities as a means of overcoming these barriers. Cultural and language differences may pose challenges, but they can also be acknowledged as an opportunity to discover a universal language in art. One of the most memorable experiences Brigita highlights is successful collaborations during curating exhibitions, such as the Kaunas Biennial’s project “The Merge.” She illustrates the power of art in uniting diverse cultures by bringing together artists from Poland, Portugal, and Lithuania, along with children from Lithuania and Ukraine. “We believed this project could serve as a platform for children to get to know each other, allowing cultures to exchange, learn something beautiful from each other, and simply have fun together,” she expresses, delighted that the project is expanding.

Regarding the promotion of lesser-known artists to wider audiences, Brigita points to platforms like Magic Carpets. “I believe that projects or platforms like Magic Carpets often excel in this regard. Their goal is to enhance the visibility and recognition of young artists,” she explains. Her approach revolves around artists collaborating and showcasing their work. When it comes to connecting the public with emerging talents, Brigita advocates for cooperation. “We achieve this through community practices,” she states, emphasizing interpersonal interaction and collaborative production. She underscores the need to exhibit a young artist’s potential by not only acknowledging their work but also bringing in a diverse audience interested in art.

Curation is evolving to encompass emerging artists and their unique perspectives, developed with sensitivity and talent. An image takes shape that transcends boundaries, embodying a space where art is genuinely felt. The commitment to promoting the obscure and the undiscovered epitomizes the universality and transformative power of art. Art serves as a live dialogue that welcomes all voices and connects them. Brigita’s thoughtful and vibrant observations continue to shine a spotlight on a diverse approach to curating and collaboration. The enduring relationships that develop as a result of collaborations are highlighted by her comments, which capture the essence of community engagement and partnership. Brigita mentions the Magic Carpets platform’s residency program in Kaunas as a prominent example of partnership. Brigita weaves a complex web of cooperative development by involving various institutions. “It’s truly enriching to engage other organizations in the creative process,” she notes.

Moreover, Brigita stresses the importance of engaging with local communities as active creators and leaders in art projects. She offers a vivid example of Ukrainian artist Yulia Krivich, who invites the Ukrainian community in Kaunas to participate in an artistic residency project, involving them not only in creative workshops but also in leading the project themselves. On the delicate subject of cultural appropriation, Brigita emphasizes the need to “acknowledge that creative potential can exist” within a culture and approach it with “careful listening.” Her method is defined by patience and trust. She advocates for “waiting a bit, observing, and seeing what unfolds,” demonstrating openness and adaptability.

Her humility and openness shine through as the conversation shifts to professional development and future goals. Her attitude speaks volumes as she looks forward to a final exhibition in Tartu, Estonia in 2024, co-curated by a group of emerging curators from the Magic Carpets platform. Collaboration, like the connectivity of humanity, generates a new language and a shared vision. Collaboration between curators and artists fosters creative growth, as well as a sense of community and cultural exchange. Their aim is to create an exhibition that not only demonstrates the connection between art and society, but also the process behind it. Brigita’s views on collaboration offer insight into the dynamic realm of artistic collaboration. Despite the challenges, she describes the experience as “fascinating” and “valuable.” Her excitement for the outcome is palpable.

In conclusion, Brigita’s remarks provide an intriguing glimpse into contemporary curation, where empathy, collaboration, and a willingness to embrace the unexpected come together to create a beautiful harmony. Her vision, which weaves together the threads of creativity, inclusivity, and involvement, serves as a guiding light for anyone navigating the world of art and culture. Through her experiences and ideas, she demonstrates the transformative potential of art in bridging cultural divides and uniting people. Her initiatives, reflecting a genuine enthusiasm for artistic collaboration and cultural exchange, may serve as a model for future curators and artists. Brigita’s insights resonate as an inspiring call to action for the art community, celebrating diversity, nurturing creativity, and exploring boundless possibilities, all guided by a desire for change and a commitment to respect.