Adrian Carlo Bibiano, Grass Among the Hay, 2023
Adrian Carlo Bibiano is a dancer and stage artist born in Ontario, Canada, raised in Acapulco, Mexico, and currently living in Kaunas, Lithuania for four years. Alongside his professional pursuits, Carlo describes himself as an inner space traveler, exploring the nuances of human movement and being in his artistic portfolio. The sensitivity to people’s inner space and questioning the sense of human and community being were evident during Carlo’s Magic Carpets artistic residency in the picturesque location of Raudondvaris. This area is adorned with numerous trees, a flowing river, a long and rich history, and a red-brick manor built in the 17th century.
Right here, at the Raudondvaris Arts Incubator within the Manor’s grounds, Kaunas Biennial organized an exhibition showcasing the activities of the Magic Carpets platform. The event presented the outcomes of international artists’ residencies in Kaunas and Lithuanian artists’ residencies abroad, covering the period from 2022 to 2023. This exhibition complemented the 14th edition of the Kaunas Biennial Contemporary Art Festival and was titled “From Place to Community. From Community to Place.” The main focus was on reflecting on the ‘people-space’ relationship: space’s influence on people and people’s influence on space through creative placemaking approaches. Creative placemaking practices inspire people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces through various forms of art, strengthening the connection between people and the spaces they share. Raudondvaris provided the perfect setting for exploring these topics.
As the exhibition was planned to be opened in Raudondvaris, it was crucial to involve the local community in the project. This community is known for being active and motivated to participate in cultural activities. A notable example of community activism in Raudondvaris was a 2021 project under the Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 program. Local architect Algimantas Grigas gathered children from Raudondvaris to help create and install a wooden furniture piece that could serve as a public leisure space for youngsters to meet. The previously unused grass field next to the school became a popular spot over the years. However, it became worn-out and forgotten, prompting the community to express a wish to renew and reactivate it in a creative way, promoting this open space for the young people of Raudondvaris. This is where the Magic Carpets platform had the opportunity to engage with the Raudondvaris community and provide assistance. Collaborating with Raudondvaris Culture Centre, a summer camp for the teenagers of Raudondvaris was organized, becoming part of Magic Carpets’ artistic residencies.
Adrian Carlo Bibiano, having experience in working with communities and also engaging in pedagogical practice, quickly gained the trust of the teenage community. It was a group of 15 young people, each with different interests, joining with friends or coming alone, aged from 12 to 16 years old. It was fascinating to observe how, during the playful movement-based workshops led by Carlo, the youngsters were encouraged to relax and free their bodies, as well as come together to dance. They tried various ways of shaking hands for greeting, created a spinning human machine, and played games where teenagers had to create collective body sculptures by touching each other in creative ways. As the summer camp started with workshops by artist Dan Vezentan creating colorful tassels made from wool threads and bells that sounded beautifully, Carlo included the results of these workshops in his movement practice as a symbol of unity and co-creation. Even those who were skeptical at the beginning came to realize that movement is not only dancing; sometimes it can be considered a fun game. Carlo’s methodology created a safe space for young people to be creative with their personal moves, explore the surrounding area, and reactivate the wooden furniture piece made in 2021 to be implemented and appreciated once again.
The workshops resulted in a choreography inspired by Carlo’s creative movement methodology, created by the children themselves together with the artist. It evolved into a performative piece presented as a closing event for the summer camp participants.
The final result of Carlo’s artistic Magic Carpets residency was called “Grass Among the Hay” and consisted of two parts. In the group exhibition “From Place to Community. From Community to Place” on a big TV screen, visitors could see a short documentary film composed by Marius Paplauskas summarizing the whole creative process of the summer camp activities with the community and the artist. The workshop participants were also invited to the opening of the exhibition, which surprised the visitors with the performance piece once again. It was a fulfilling experience for the teenagers to perform their piece in front of a professional audience, this time together with Carlo and also in a different space – the square in front of the Arts Incubator where Dan Vezentan’s sculpture was placed as well. The performance showed the movements created during the summer camp, which were composed around the big wooden sculpture. The performance, accompanied by music from Luna Caracol and folk-style singing by one of the teenage girls, ended up hanging the colorful and melodious tassels on Dan’s sculpture, finishing the piece with the direct touch of the community members.
It was magical and inspiring to feel the atmosphere of the performance full of concentration, honesty, and the soft pride of achievements. Carlo’s ability to open up and give his whole energy to the people he is working with helped involve the community in the creative process in a natural way. The words of the 12-year-old boy from the summer camp, who saw the “Grass Among the Hay” documentary movie for the first time, summed it all up:
“I’ve got tears in my eyes when I saw it.”
“Was it so bad?” – I asked laughing, expecting the boy to do the same.
“Nooooooo, it was tears of joy…” – he replied wisely and longingly.
Curator of the project Brigita Bareikytė
Big thank you for the summer camp participants from Raudondvaris: Motiejus Patinskas, Vaidas Bulota, Jonas Malinauskas, Viltė Rupšytė, Simas Vaitkevičius, Rugilė Rudelevičiūtė, Osvaldas Sideravičius, Gabrielė Mačiulaitytė, Patricija Zubavičiūtė, Rapolas Kazlauskas, Goda Staniulytė, Marta Starevičiūtė, Mykolas Starevičius, Vilius Račinskas, Austėja Staniulytė.
Thank you all who contributed to the realization of this project: Gintarė Žaltauskaitė, Vilma Bražiūnaitė, Saulius Valius, Roberta Grigaliūnaitė, Ignas Andriuškevičius, Dovydas Gaulė, Irmantas Kuskys, Džiugas Žemaitis, Marius Paplauskas, Aistė Varkulevičiūtė, Kristina Adomaitė, Laura Kanapienytė, Agnė Poderytė, Gerda Linkevičiūtė, Diana Povilaitus, Raluca Doroftei, Algimantas Grigas, Jolanta Zizienė, Dan Vezentan.
Partners: Raudondvaris Manor, Raudondvaris Cultural Centre, Kaunas District Municipal Public Library, Kaunas District Municipality.
Project funded by: European Union and Lithuanian Council for Culture.
Curatorial text by Brigita Bareikytė