Page 1


Valdas Ozarinskas (1961–2014) was an architect and artist, and one of the most remarkable representatives of interdisciplinary art and conceptual architecture in Lithuania. Over the course of three decades, Ozarinskas was prolific and multifarious in his work; he designed exhibitions, interiors, private houses and public commissions, theatre and event productions, produced fashion collections, art installations and videos, edited publications, curated exhibitions and organised music and art events. In the context of Lithuanian design and architecture, Ozarinskas occupies a unique place as an artist with a distinct ideological and aesthetic vision, usually defined as brutal utilitarianism. This vision embodied the tendencies of interdisciplinarity and conceptualism that had been slowly seeping into the fields of art, design and architecture since the 1980s; on the other hand, it also transcended the boundaries between the disparate spheres and scopes of design, such as household décor and the war industry, thus also embodying the challenges faced by a country going through socio-economic transition and the modes of operation determined by it. His best-known architectural works were the iconic Lithuanian pavilion for the international EXPO 2000 exhibition in Hannover, designed with Private Ideology, of which he was a member, and the stylised, rough militarised interiors for the bars NATOʼs and Full Metal Jacket. His entry into the visual arts coincided with the rise of the process-based exhibition and video performance (that followed the first performance art events) and he went on to participate in the first large-scale curated group exhibitions, as an artist and an exhibition designer. The strong performative aspect of some of his most recent works — “Romas Ubartas” and “Black Pillow” — helped establish his unique place in the history of conceptual and performance art in Lithuania. Ozarinskas produced approximately ten solo exhibitions and took part in more than fifty group shows, becoming a recipient of the Hansabank art prize in 2007. The architectural gallery, Nulinis Laipsnis, held two posthumous shows of two of his projects, and a small fraction of his work was presented at the 12th Baltic Triennial in 2015/2016. A monograph providing the first comprehensive account of Ozarinskas’ multi-disciplinary practice will soon be published by Nulinis Laipsnis and include texts by the architect Tomas Grunskis, art historians Lolita Jablonskienė and Ūla Tornau, architecture theorist Kazys Varnelis, and writer Rolandas Rastauskas among others. “An Architect without Architecture?” provides an overview of nearly three decades of this extraordinary artist and architect’s work. It is the first opportunity to see his relatively recent work alongside some of his early projects, and a rare occasion to draw analogies between his work across various fields. The narrative that unfolds in such an overview has inspired this very exhibition guidebook. The exhibition comprises ten chapters, three of which are presented in the original interiors that Ozarinskas designed at the Contemporary Art


Centre in Vilnius — the CAC Cinema, the cloakroom and the foyer. Other interiors of the CAC are also peppered with traces of his work that play an important role in the narration, making it impossible to organise a similar exhibition anywhere else. For more than half of this institution’s current life-span Ozarinskas was its in-house architect and played an important role in shaping its image, besides, he frequently participated in the CAC’s exhibitions and occasionally curated them, opening the door to people and ideas that reflected his interests. And yet, while the CAC is an important part of this narrative, it’s not the central one. The narrative centres on an architect whose ambitions far surpassed the possibilities that were available to him, but even the work he managed to do is only now starting to gain some appreciation in the context of architecture. Up until now, architecture in Lithuania, as in many countries across the world, was viewed only in terms of what is built, but today a totally different understanding of architecture is slowly gaining ground, whereby “unbuilt”, “paper” or so-called conceptual architecture is considered even more important for the development and self-reflection in the field. Many world-renowned architects including Cedric Price, Lebbeus Woods, Pier Vittorio Aureli and Eyal Weizman have not designed a single building that was built. In the earlier context, in which Ozarinskas worked, designing of temporary exhibitions — not to mention making work presented within them — could by no means compete in prestige with the “real” architectural practice. Now we can see it in exactly the way Ozarinskas saw it — as part of a multi-faceted but integral practice, in which every object, gesture and idea is an opportunity to address important, relevant questions. Lithuania, for a number of reasons, lacks a critical discourse in contemporary architecture, as well as in design. It may be possible that at the time when Ozarinskas studied at the Art Institute, students there were encouraged to see architecture as a “great art”, as opposed to their peers at the Engineering and Construction Institute. But in visual art — exhibition venues and educational institutions — there was and still remains a clear hierarchy between applied art and the so-called “real” art. “Ekh, how alluring the distant and unreachable heights of ‘pure art’ seemed to us at that time!” wrote the art critic Jurgita Ludavičienė about her years of study at the Telšiai Technical School of Applied Art. In 1998, a symptomatic group exhibition of applied art titled “Liberated Things” opened at the CAC. In her review of the exhibition, Ludavičienė reinforced the opinion of most other critics, emphasising that “at the present time, applied art is neither interesting nor relevant”, and “an object of applied art” is a label that “emotionally drags you to the bottom”. The exhibition “Liberated Things” is important in that it sought to solve the gaping separation and inert “decline in prestige” of applied art. Yet, rather than bolstering applied arts with critical awareness, all it did was stress its inferiority even more: the exhibition chose to highlight the work that best aligned with the new tendencies prevailing in the contemporary visual art institutions at the time, listing “installation, photography, multimedia, object and conceptual art” among such targets; but those tendencies of applied art that were “function-oriented


and aimed at a design-like notion of form” were rejected. This scenario does not leave any space for applied art to reflect on its specific range of problems. Thus the exhibition once again reinforced the unfortunate separation, and plunged the possibility to raise the self-awareness of applied art into a distant future — or perhaps even into despair. For countless reasons Ozarinskas’ relationship with the architectural nomenclature of Lithuania of that time did not work out either. The Lithuanian pavilion at the Hannover EXPO in 2000 marked the peak of this conflict, despite its international recognition. Following the project, Ozarinskas stated that he had left architecture behind. Ozarinskas relentlessly collaborated with other artists and collectives to design projects of differing scales, ranging from jewellery to international diplomacy (his project with Aida Čeponytė in Denmark in 2002 sought to raise awareness of the heavy burden of Lithuania’s Soviet nuclear power plant, at the time when the responsibilities of the European Union in this regard were not yet clearly defined). He constantly aligned himself with institutions, fields or initiatives, “exploding” into them and becoming their heart and soul; alas, it always ended in disappointment one way or another. Throughout his practice there was a cycle of different initiatives merging together for a longer or shorter time but then later bouncing off each other — not unlike his spontaneous performance during the opening of the exhibition “Formalism” in 2010, when he and his companions bounced back from a huge rubber pillow, meant to symbolise the scale of their failure. Like the aircraft pilots in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novels, sooner or later he would find himself in a hopeless situation, losing ground. “The immediate duty, the only duty of the planet”, wrote Saint-Exupéry in the words of one of those desperate pilots, “was to furnish us accurate figures for our computations among the stars. And its figures had been false.”



states enthusiastically sought independence from the Russian-led yoke — the early 1990s brought an optimism for the future of an independent Lithuania much as they witnessed the collapse of the only state system Ozarinskas had theretofore known. Some of the sense of rupture pervasive in this transitional period would remain in Ozarinskas’ work for the duration of his career. In 1988, Ozarinskas submits a degree project to graduate from the Lithuanian Academy of Art that encapsulates something of the ethos of uncertainty: a house assembled of fragmented, disjointed planes so jagged that the depicted building cannot be inhabited. Buckling planes and warped shapes intentionally violate a quaint, traditional notion of home. Ozarinskas’ design betrays what Philip Johnson described as the “pleasures of unease” in press quotes for the “Deconstructivist Architecture” exhibition, which he co-organised at the Museum of Modern Art, New York that same year. And indeed, Ozarinskas’ work shares some of the affinity for early-Soviet Constructivism, the viciously rough dismantling of archi-

Valdas Ozarinskas with an architectural model for his diploma project, 1986

Valdas Ozarinskas became a dissident architect somewhat by accident — as much for his character and ideas as for the circumstances of his career. Ozarinskas entered architecture at a moment of political instability, in the late 1980s as the Soviet Union collapsed. The Baltic


tectural orthodoxy, and the skewed geometries of that exhibition’s protagonists, among them early Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. Like the Deconstructivists, Ozarinskas understood irregular geometry as a structural condition, not just a dynamic formal aesthetic, and proposed in turn an architecture of disruption and dislocation. Yet unlike his more famous fellow travellers, Ozarinskas never developed a portfolio of built work, never calcified into a signature style, and never traded a sense of unease for a sense of self-satisfaction borne of the scale and sheer spectacle of their work. The more the Deconstructivists


Lithuanian pavilion at the EXPO exhibition in Hannover (with Private Ideology), 2000

committed to architecture, the more the instability of their early work was undermined. Ozarinskas never realised a full-scale, permanent building — though he certainly longed to — and his enduring position as an outsider of sorts to the architectural profession facilitated instead a polymath practice that critically, if affectionately, examined both the changing Lithuanian context and the architecture it generated. Unable to obtain a license to practice architecture under the post-socialist system of professional accreditation, Ozarinskas pursued other scales and modes of design: interiors, fashion, pavilion architecture, jewellery, and exhibition design. In the mid-1990s, he designed two Vilnius bars, NATO’s and Full Metal Jacket, both short-lived and possessed of a grungy, irreverent aesthetic. Like his steel pedestal for the Frank Zappa Memorial in Vilnius, inaugurated in 1996, these projects were harbingers of the concerns that developed in Ozarinskas’ work. The architect used industrial materials for the interiors of both bars, which would become a recurring trope, and created a portrait series of bodybuilders to use as wall décor at Full Metal Jacket. When Ozarinskas staged the “Central European Man“ fashion show in 2001 in Vilnius,

inviting his bearded, bumbling friends to model their own clothes down the runway, his self-implicating scrutiny of alpha masculinity acquired wry, deeply sympathetic tones. Ozarinskas was deeply attracted to industrial production, and his enduring fascination with its image and material detritus led him to produce highly customised projects, often from banal or ubiquitous materials. The lightweight steel structure he designed with other members of the group Private Ideology for the Lithuanian Pavilion at the Hannover Expo in 2000, perhaps his best-known work, betrays an admiration for high-tech architecture in its ambition to cultivate a progressive national image by liberating the pavilion architecture from the usual ethnographic motifs. International press celebrated the project, which was sardonically dubbed “the Hannover Juicer” in Lithuanian media — controversial for its bureaucratised competition process (in which Ozarinskas and his collaborators refused to name a fee for their work), the Hannover pavilion became a media spectacle that placed Ozarinskas in stark contrast with the local architectural profession. So much so, that the Lithuanian Architects’ Association charged Private Ideology with “discrediting the professional community,” exposing the organisation’s reactionary nature in doing so. With his interiors projects of the early 2000s, Ozarinskas evolved his industrial inclinations by adopting tactics from conceptual art. For the 2003 office interior of advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi, he borrowed the material lexicon of shipping infrastructure. By installing a roll-down freighter door as the conference room entrance and cladding the interior with sheet metal, Ozarinskas brought the grimier spectre of commerce into the firm’s corporate milieu, collapsing the hierarchy of white and blue collar work in doing so. At the Contemporary Art Centre, where he served as exhibition designer from 1996 until his death in 2014, he installed a dismembered glider wing in the foyer as part of his redesign of the original modernist interior. The gesture of recuperating this found cast-aside object was as important as the object’s use. No matter that the installed relic was blatantly uncomfortable as either a seat or desk — Ozarinskas never cared for cosiness. That his ambition was greater than the opportunities for practice available to him is the source of an enduring tension throughout Ozarinskas’ varied work. That sentiment — disappointment, but not complacency — took on conspicuous proportions with his project “Black Pillow”, a 25-metre black rubber inflatable first shown at the CAC in 2010 and later in the 2012 Liverpool Biennial. Exhibited at the height of the economic crisis in Lithuania, it evoked a deeply pessimistic national ethos at the imposition of austerity measures. “Black Pillow” was, indeed, big enough to absorb the variety of personal and collective disappointments; like the crisis, it was an unavoidable, omnipresent. It came to represent not only the architect’s sense of failure to practice building as such, but also the collective disenchantment of a society that had entered the European Union less than a decade prior on a wave of optimism about the political and economic future.

“Central European Man” (with Aida Čeponytė), 2001



It would be unfair to Ozarinskas to end on a pessimistic note. For his bouts of discontent, he was an optimist by nature. Ultimately, his work appears prescient in retrospect. Ozarinskas practiced architecture through a variety of alternative methods that are now key features of an expanded definition of the profession — his legacy is more relevant than ever for a global generation of architecture-school graduates who see no hierarchy between designing exhibitions and buildings.

“Black Pillow” (with Audrius Bučas), 2010



To quote the title of one of the installations by Aida Čeponytė and Valdas Ozarinskas, it’s always “better to do something than nothing at all”. OZE PAX is a self-portrait by Ozarinskas that is shown here for the first time. In this video, his head slowly revolves in the centre of the screen as if it does not belong to the artist. This asteroid floats in an irregular orbit in Ozarinskas’ own office at the CAC, which he has just finished designing. Finally, again, Ozė has launched into orbit. Or perhaps he is now stuck in an orbit that is restricting his free flight? Opaque at first sight, just like the dark glasses he wears in the video, the title of the work (why is it “pax”, as in “peace”?) is a reference to a 2001 Hollywood film, in which Kevin Spacey’s character spends his days in a psychiatric hospital waiting to return to his planet K-PAX, located, according to him, approximately a thousand of “our” light-years away. “So far ahead of time”, Rolandas Rastauskas will later say about the set design and costumes for the theatre performance “Tomorrow at Four” (later renamed “The Clinic”), made collaboratively by Ozarinskas and Čeponytė in 1996. In the words of the theatre critic Vaidas Jauniškis, the protagonist of this play “is recovering from the Communist mentality and the virus of his father’s past. Treating others at the hospital and catching the disease himself, in order to become a tabula rasa.” Performed only a couple of times, the play was set in the claustrophobic space of an abandoned army barracks swimming pool, clad with stark white tiles that swallowed the actors’ voices like an abyss. The props of this production consisted exclusively of medical equipment, and all of the characters were dressed in white — both the doctors and the patients, the relatives and friends visiting them, and, of course, the laboratory rat.

from the Union, in which they spoke about the position of this port “in the constellation of astronomical deep sky objects” and its placement into “the intergalactic algorithm”. Their proposal for the port was to install indicators of geographic location pulsating with bright light that would send signals to the Earth’s satellites, which in turn would generate daily photographs of the harbour. “Feedback” is probably the key idea of this proposal, which stands in sharp contrast to the far less optimistic view of satellite surveillance systems that prevails today. In 2018, feedback manifests not by way of elegant snapshots but of missiles and social profiling. The images generated by surveillance equipment are for the most part no longer meant for the human eye — they are only ever “seen” by computers. On the other hand, aerial photographs remain not just objects of fascination but also instruments of education, and as such haven’t lost one bit of social value in all this time. In the same year that the proposal was presented for the competition, the project for the Port of Fredericia was partly realised on the façades of the Contemporary Art Centre, where several of these modified “satellite dishes” remain to this day. The project, titled “Points of Attraction”, was implemented during the 8th Baltic Triennial, in which architects — the duo of Ozarinskas and Čeponytė, and the Dutch studio MVRDV — took part in a large scale contemporary art exhibition alongside visual artists for the first time in Lithuania.

One of the most important works in this retrospective is also one of the earliest — an object made together with the exhibition’s architect Audrius Bučas in 1989. Nicknamed “Cockroach”, it was assembled from scraps generated by the disintegrating industry of that time. Though the object itself has survived relatively well, in this exhibition it is presented in the photographs by Remigijus Pačėsa taken in the basement of the Lithuanian Union of Architects. At that time the three the architects and the photographer had studios or also lived in the premises of the Architects’ Union, and it was there that the earliest exhibitions (art installations) by Ozarinskas, each seen by just a handful of people, were held. In these photographs, the decaying walls of the building perform yet another important role — their mouldy and disintegrating surfaces have become cosmic nebulae and galaxies in the nocturnal sky of the Universe, a background for an architekton which has suddenly turned here into a space station floating in open space. Is this irony, a declaration of the shortcomings and faults of one of the most important architectural organisations in the country? Probably. Yet the photographs also speak of the boundless ambition and poor economic circumstances of that time. Was no hint of irony in the proposal that Ozarinskas and Čeponytė submitted for the open competition of the Port of Fredericia’s development in Denmark in 2002, far

“Cockroach” (with Audrius Bučas), 1989


Proposal for the Port of Fredericia in Denmark (with Aida Čeponytė), 2002



Ozarinskas wasn’t shy from admitting that he dreaded publicity and public spaces. Descending from a stage with an electric guitar in his hands, hot and damp with sweat, his legs shaking uncontrollably, qualifies as but a minor episode of this “absolute phobia”, to use his own words (once or twice he performed at the Independent Drawing Gig nights organised by the artist Linas Jablonskis). “I’m very reluctant to enter someone’s office for the first time … or an arena: I’m always apprehensive, I can’t let go of reservations. Will the architecture be good? Or bad? Soon after, I start fearing people’s reactions. You’d really like to leave, but you cannot. There always needs to be enough space, enough wind.” “Architecture is constantly trying and testing you, and it’s not pleasant” said Ozarinskas in an interview he gave while preparing for the makeover of the Contemporary Art Centre’s ground floor foyer. The distinctly modernist interior was originally designed by Vytautas Čekanauskas in 1968 and its makeover required Ozarinskas to revisit the notions of the public and the official, as well as the choreography and the protocol of public behaviour that the interior prescribed. Ozarinskas was due to have a solo exhibition in the exhibition series “Emission” organised by the CAC, when the director Kęstutis Kuizinas proposed he redesigned the foyer instead. In either case it seems that Ozarinskas would have taken the opportunity to pose similar questions and face the same fears. And not just on his own — we were always meant to be part of it — he revealed that, had it been a more conventional solo exhibition, it would have taken the shape of an aerodynamics lab, with a powerful wind turbine physically “testing” not aircraft but visitors (the smudged figures of Francis Bacon’s paintings spring to mind). In 1996, with Aida Čeponytė, Ozarinskas choreographed the launch of a new album by the rock band Rojaus Tūzai, released as a CD and an audio cassette. The CD format was still quite a novelty in the Lithuanian music scene at the time, but the artists aspired to make it “sensational”. The audience was invited to participate in a spatial-choreographic metaphor, where the architecture of the sports arena was cast in the role of a spinning disc (a bunch of exercising children ran laps throughout the event), while the musicians and the audience became the laser “eye” of a CD player. Sensational is what is experienced by your body. And architecture is a script, not necessarily written in static architectural or verbal constructions.

“Magnet”, proposal for the European Capital of Culture (with Audrius Bučas), 2008

The idea of architecture as a script would reoccur in Ozarinskas’ later work, and he would often produce designs without making blueprints or using many material resources. He would often work in frugal conditions or otherwise with minimal means. Expeditions to operating and disintegrating factories and stores was routine for most architects, but for Ozarinskas those trips often substituted sketches or drawing at a computer entirely. He enthusiastically delegated aesthetic decisions, but he didn’t compromise: the delegating had to follow a precise scenario. Losing control is just as dreadful as “doing something” in public.


Once in the poverty-stricken year of 1993 Ozarinskas went up the hill to Kalnų Parkas to take a look at the outdoor arena, which had on his request been given a coat of paint for the Songs Festival. In the morning sun he saw not a neutral grey but a bright blue patch that looked like a lake. The paint, finally arranged the very last minute and put in place overnight, was of a different colour than promised. It was perhaps tricks like that, unwittingly played on him, that encouraged him to become a trickster himself. In 1995 and 1996 he completed two other important projects for public spaces. One was an installation for the first Capital Days festival involving live animals exhibited in cages in the city’s main squares (rooster, goat, ram — large part of the arsenal of Lithuanian curse words — to show that Vilnius essentially remains a village, despite boosting its morale as an independent capital). The other was the architectural part of the monument to the American musician Frank Zappa. The monument was the idea of Saulius Paukštys and Saulius Pilinkus, who, alongside Ernestas Parulskis and Konstantinas Bogdanas Junior, were largely responsible for a series of art pranks and group exhibitions in the mid-1990s. Zappa’s sculptural portrait was made by Konstantinas Bogdanas Senior, whose other work today comprises a substantial part of Grūtas Park. The monument to the musician who never visited Lithuania and had no personal connections to it was unveiled in the centre of Vilnius on the same day that Boris Yeltsin gave his Russian president’s oath. These were the two main news items of the day in Lithuania. In a city trying to break free of Soviet restrictions, the monument first became a symbol of free expression, and later a symbol of critique of the traditionalist and opportunistic public space politics of the city itself. “The monument to this day reminds us not so much of Zappa but of the time when it seemed that everything is possible and nothing will restrict creative freedom ever again”, Agnė Narušytė will write in 2014. Notably, permission to build the monument was obtained by means of “creative silence”: by refraining to comment, the initiators fostered the tentative belief that the musician was a Litvak. In 2010, a replica of the monument was erected in Baltimore, Frank Zappa’s native city. Around the turn of the century, festivals and monuments, along with other public space-related projects, rapidly became highly professionalised fields, and the increasing resources meant that an entirely different circle of people formed around them. But in 2008, a competition unprecedented in Lithuania in terms of its openness and resources was announced — an open call for projects for the European Capital of Culture. Together with other architects, producers and writers, Ozarinskas developed two proposals. One of them, an installation called “The Sun Never Sets in Vilnius” — an uninterrupted video projection of the Sun’s disc in one of the town’s central squares — was meant to be executed in collaboration of NASA. The other — “Magnet”, resembling a military machine or a toy — was to be designed as the year-long festival’s information point. Neither of these two projects were brought to life.

“Blue Painting”, stage design for the World Lithuanian Song Festival, the Evening of Ensembles, 1993



The Frank Zappa memorial, which Ozarinskas supported with great enthusiasm despite not being involved from the start, was not the only symbol of critique in his oeuvre. Every piece he ever made was in one way or another a critique of architecture.

built (the other was completed, but not in accordance with Ozarinskas’ blueprints), was designed as a two storey building in the shape of a semi-circle; its curved wall was supposed to be made of a pre-fabricated metal aircraft hangar turned on its side.

In the 1999 exhibition “Lithuanian Art 1989–1999: Ten Years”, Ozarinskas and Aida Čeponytė presented their new video “A Man and a Woman”, in which they re-enact a sex scene from the eponymous 1966 film by Claude Lelouch. “By repeating sexual intercourse in reality, the artists recreate the perception of private and public spaces” art critic Jurga Daubaraitė wrote shortly after the exhibition opened. Watching this film may be an uneasy experience if we think that what we see is real: it is indeed much more common that actors act. The artists’ video, which emphasised this particular nuance, embodied a critique of architecture as well as of design and politics of public spaces in wider terms: it’s all an act, nobody is doing anything real.

“It’s a lovely configuration you are wearing today”, says the protagonist of K-PAX to one of the women working in the hospital he’s at. And Ozarinskas says to Renata Šarkauskaitė: “I am more interested in the interior of a factory for instance, which was made by people who were solving engineering problems. I am interested in technological things, which haven‘t been suppressed by architects and their aesthetics. I don’t want to base my decisions on things like ‘beautiful’, ‘more beautiful’, ‘even more beautiful’.. Because there is never an end to it.”

“Isn’t this an emotional need to identify?” — Erika Grigoravičienė will ask in her review of the video, in regards to its relation to the original movie. “Or maybe it is a need to blend emotional reality with the desire to imitate by way of substituting an imitation of reality with a reality that imitates?” It is tempting to call the duo’s approach to the viewers’ comfort a provocation, but indifference is perhaps a better term. A total indifference to the personal, and especially psychological comfort is one of the most distinct features in Ozarinskas’ interiors, even those that were used for a long time or are still being used today. The only exceptions perhaps were the CAC Café, where he used to meet with the architect of the building Vytautas Čekanauskas (the café has since gone through two more reconstructions), his own office and the offices of his colleagues at CAC, and the studios he designed for friends. There are a couple of video tapes in the private archive of Ozarinskas, which haven’t yet been shown before and in which Ozarinskas documents the first office at the Contemporary Art Centre that he designed for himself. It is the same office where OZE PAX was filmed. Both tapes convey not just the love for and pride of his own work, but also a sense of fascination — as if he had nothing to do with it — with this microcosm and the various elements that settled there, including a punch bag installed in the middle of the room. In one of the tapes this microcosm is observed from a distance in a somewhat mystifying manner; in the other the camera joyously focuses on whatever the architect’s hand brings into view. Interior design for the bar NATO’s (with Aida Čeponytė), 1995

In the archives of the Lithuanian National Radio and Television there is an interview with Javier Solana, the Secretary General of NATO at the time, filmed in 1996 in the short-lived bar NATO’s. Ozarinskas had designed the interior, and the ambiguous title of the bar (“natos” means “musical notes” in Lithuanian, and the bar was set to be just behind the National Philharmonics) was the idea of Ernestas Parulskis — it was a play-it-safe joke on the country-wide regulation, which was later scrapped, to use only Lithuanian words for names of places and companies. Lithuania had been collaborating with NATO since 1991, but was only invited for negotiations regarding its membership in 2002. In the TV footage, photographs of men holding heavy weapons, taken without exposing their faces, can be seen behind the leader of the alliance. A model of a military missile and several Top Gun-style portraits of a “pilot” can be seen behind the journalist. The missiles and portraits are in fact fragments of one of Ozarinskas’ early art installations, “Small Town of Vilnius, or Fire Fly with Me”. Ozarinskas made another photographic project for the other bar he designed, Full Metal Jacket, which closed even more swiftly than NATO’s — a series of muscular male bodies that portrayed models recruited at a gym. It would take many years before gyms shake off their stark association with the criminal world. “The use of military elements in the interior could lead to the opposite conclusion, which has little to do with militarism or TAZ. Since the military gear is an example of the most advanced functionality, 100% utilitarian design with no decorative patterns involved except the Hollywood-style spectacularity of a shot or an explosion, it is the perfect functionality of machine guns and rockets in particular that caught Oze’s attention” noted Raimundas Malašauskas in his extended essay about the work of Ozarinskas which is republished in this guidebook.

“But details are exactly what interiors are made of,” said Ozarinskas to the architecture journalist Renata Šarkauskaitė in an interview in 2002 when asked about the importance of details in interior design. However, “details” in his case can also mean car parts, glider components or road signs. He designed the interior for the CAC Café using parts of discarded classroom furniture and used metal parts of counting machines salvaged from a disintegrating factory for the bar Full Metal Jacket. Villa Jogaila, one of two private houses that were nearly


Interior design for the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, 2002



The works of Ozarinskas in architecture were manifestos, contrapositions to the prevalent modes of architectural practice. At a time of major transformation for Lithuanian society he tested the potential of architecture to impose on the environment and organise everyday life. The architectural projects that Ozarinskas produced for a range of competitions and clients show the gradual clarification of his personal “optics”, methodology and principles. The filmmaker Harun Farocki, who worked at a similar time to Ozarinskas, never shot his own footage. He used materials he found in archives and turned them into films that explored and were fascinated by image itself, the function of images. Image production in the robotic assembly lines is not meant for viewing but for machine analysis. Farocki was one of the first to draw attention to what he called “operational images” — images that are not meant for people but machines, military intelligence and so on. This technosphere revealed itself to Ozarinskas gradually, but by the mid 1990s he was already starting to use objects found in the technosphere as a source of shapes for architecture. Ozarinskas operated in the technosphere like a Stone Age man in wild nature: his oeuvre tells the story of someone who tirelessly adapts found articulations for new functions — it was the same radical ingenuity that transpired in the Post-Soviet 1990s, when, with a burst of energy, the world opened up and reality suddenly turned into realities. For Ozarinskas it was an era of true emancipation, which he saw as a challenge. He refined his conceptual method through experiments — by placing objects from one reality into another. Everything has already been invented and designed. An architectural object is not the final result — a building — but its every parameter, the conditions of its design and the collaborations that make up a conceptual structure (an assembly). Operative images and objects of the technosphere are turned into spaces with the aim of refining an architectural form that is capable of diverting the sociopolitical development of Lithuania towards the techno-optimistic, rather than the retro-utopic. Ozarinskas started out under the influence of deconstructivist architecture, which prevailed at the time. In his 1986 diploma work — “The Farmstead Project in the National Park of LSSR” — the skeletons of traditional thatched huts, and their characteristic lines and shapes, are split apart and reassembled into new structures. Forms are not invented — they are found.

In their proposal for the Radio Frequency Regulation Service building on Ševčenkos Street, designed also with Gintautas Blažiūnas, fragments of radio microchips are retraced in drawings to find the shape and spatial structure of the building. In this project the use of the original technical object is no longer obvious in the final result, but it is a method that unfolds further in Ozarinskas’ later projects, where a set of radio components become his architectural rulers and templates. The various shapes of the metal pieces, originally designed to control electron streams, are photographed, scanned and traced, turning them into blueprints, floorplans, sections and elevations. A set of electronic components operates as an atlas, a closed visual system, and provides solutions to a vast array of design problems. It’s an infinite generator of shapes for an architect who refuses to acknowledge any decor that’s not based on function. And coming up with a function is Ozarinskas’ brand of talent. Eventually his interest in participating in competitions wanes — his proposals were all too often met with “this is not Paris” type of comments. The open competition for the Lithuanian pavilion in the international EXPO exhibition in Hannover in 2000 becomes an exception. He participates together with Aida Čeponytė, but like many other architects, they are disqualified and the jury selects a far more conservative project. However, discontent with the organisational aspects of the competition hits the headlines and a new competition is organised, this time not by the Architects‘ Union but the Ministry of Economy. The winners are announced — Audrius Bučas, Marina Bučienė and Gintaras Kuginys — who have submitted the exact same proposal as in the first competition — and Ozarinskas and Čeponytė are awarded second place. The two collectives unite under the name of Private Ideology and in just a few short months they design the yellow pavilion, which remains in Hannover to this day. They also make a curatorial proposal for the pavilion’s interior, but this is rejected — the architectural collective are only entrusted to design the bar and reception desk. As an expression of their resentment towards the project, the community of Lithuanian architects set up a prize called “The Hannover Juicer“, and the head of the Lithuanian Architects Union Leonas Vaitys pronounces: “We’re not ready for Europe”. `

Between 1988 and 1992, in the wilderness of Soviet functionalism, Ozarinskas and the architect Gintautas Blažiūnas submit proposals for three competitions for churches (the Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis Mission Church, and churches in Ignalina and Elektrėnai). He produces the architectural models using parts of aeroplanes and replicates their aerodynamic forms by bending cardboard and steel. Between 1989 and 1990 Ozarinskas sources shapes from the supplements of Burda magazine, tracing the intertwined lines of sewing patterns to make up the silhouettes of buildings. The private house of Vidas Aleksandravičius in the outskirts of Vilnius, designed using this method, reaches the construction stage but the client rejects its peculiar forms and only implements the functional elements.

Architectural model of Villa Jogaila (with Aida Čeponytė), 1994


Architectural model for the EXPO 2000 competition (with Aida Čeponytė), 1998



This section of the exhibition is largely written by Ozarinskas himself by way of titles of works and the tropes used by him and his colleagues. “Who Wants Category U?” is Ozarinskas’ invitation for architects to “register” themselves by having their photographs taken with an ear tag that indicates their Architects‘ Union registration code. Such tags were used in agriculture for marking cattle; each tag begins with the Russian letter “U”. “‘Category U’ is a politically motivated concept that remains relevant to this day. Because I remain an uncertified architect today, and I may never get certified if you keep reminding everyone about that project,” said Ozarinskas to the art critic Erika Grigoravičienė. As we now know, he never received the qualification. For his installation “Diffusion”, Ozarinskas uses an enlarged photographic portrait of himself, in which he appears to be vomiting. Several strange instruments or devices — with an unknown purpose — lie scattered on the floor around the portrait; milk pours out of them and gradually turns sour. Although the installation itself doesn’t offer any references to the context of architecture, the link between milk and cattle connects these two pieces, and the work becomes part of the same “architectural” theme in his conversation with Grigoravičienė. “Sometimes life ends up making you sick.” The two-screen video installation “It’s Better to Do Something Than Nothing at All” by Ozarinskas and Aida Čeponytė is filmed in the Great Hall at the Contemparary Aart Centre and also shown in this same space, if only just once (which was common at the time). One of the screens displays the floor of the hall being polished, the other focuses on Čeponytė’s feet as she runs laps around the very same hall. “Formalism” (“formalizmas_ _ne_sėkmės_”, the last part roughly translating as “misfortunes” or “failures”), an exhibition at the CAC curated by Ozarinskas and Audrius Bučas, features “Black Pillow” by the two architects — an object of gargantuan, barely comprehensible, scale. “Romas Ubartas”, or rather Romas Ubartas, is a retired two-time Olympic discus throwing medallist. Having won a silver medal for the USSR and gold for the independent Lithuania, Ubartas was temporarily disqualified for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs in 1993 (there’s a parallel between him not being able to practice sports professionally and Ozarinskas not being able to practice professional architecture). In 2012, on Ozarinskas’ invitation and in the presence of several photographers, curators and Ozarinskas himself, Ubartas throws the discus at the wall several times — again in the Great Hall — until it becomes lodged near the ceiling. A scar was left on the wall for a while. The term “action”, just like the word “maxim”, ceased being used in the context of art very abruptly, after being employed by PR campaigns promoting the first supermarkets (‘akcija’ in Lithuanian also means “special offer” or “promotion” while Maksima is the name of a local supermarket chain). But at the very least, “Romas Ubartas” and “Formalism” should be referred to as actions. His anger, originally directed at

Installation “Diffusion”, 1994


architecture and expressed in the field of art, eventually turns to the field of art, too. Romas Ubartas is probably the one man in Lithuania most capable of expressing this anger in a single physical gesture, and the discus that he throws hits not just the wall — the archetype of architecture — but also the wall specifically of the CAC. If it weren’t for this wall, how far could the discus have gone? “The CAC isn’t a success story; it’s a story of failure,” says the frustrated Ozarinskas during the informal opening of the exhibition “Formalism” to a handful of attendees, which includes the participants of the exhibition, and the camera of artist Evaldas Jansas. For some time, it was precisely this institution that, it seemed, allowed him to carry out his most ambitious ideas and offer solutions to the issues he found most pressing. Audrys Karalius, an editor of the architectural magazine “Statybų pilotas” (the same one that announced The Hannover Juicer prize earlier), will write in Ozarinskas’ obituary about “the boundless spaces of visual art”, in which his architectural thinking and talent was, according to Karalius, successfully employed. Raimundas Malašauskas will use one of Ozarinskas’ conceptual designs in an exhibition at a prestigious Mexican museum saying that the show was inspired by the idea that “everything is possible but it doesn’t mean that it’s less real”. This exhibition will open the same year as “Formalism”. However, most utopias in the visual arts must be built on an extremely tight budget and only last several weeks. There seems to be no end to compromising and diplomacy. It in no way compensates for what Ozarinskas and the other architects in his circle have lost by being unable to fully realise their ambitions. “I see how my homeland is going downhill, and what’s happening in the battles of the art field, and so rather than emigrate or take some other drastic action, I decided to take a more formal approach. A very formal approach to be precise.” An inflatable rubber pillow the size of the Great Hall at the CAC represents the scale of the failure. Ozarinskas spontaneously tries to get as close to the pillow as possible and hug it, but he bounces back; other participants and visitors of the exhibition follow his lead and, one after another, do the same. “The difference between success and failure is completely formal,” says art historian Renata Dubinskaitė to Jansas’ camera. A few weeks later, the photographer Algimantas Kunčius will film “Black Pillow” as if it was a giant cuddly dog. At the end of his film “In Memoriam Valdas Ozarinskas” we see the abandoned “Lietuva” cinema, in whose place the “Mo” museum, designed by Daniel Liebeskind, will rise in 2018. “If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person?” — asks the protagonist of “Fight Club”. A screen shot of Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) from this 1999 film is among the many laminated images in Ozarinskas’ ever-increasing collection of “inspirons”. Over the years, the artists, art historians, architects and other collaborators, with whom he developed exhibitions and “projects” (before the term was much used) — often borne out of boredom or anger — became members of his own Planet Tyler, Ozarinskas’ own fight club.

Photograph for the installation “Good Steel-2”, 1995



Between 5 to 6 April the Šiaurės Atėnai Gallery hosted the installation “Good Steel-2” by Valdas Ozarinskas. This conversaion with the artist begins with the aforementioned installation and develops to explore other exhibitions by the artist. Erika Grigoravičienė: Why did you choose this title? After all, “Good Steel-2” was an exhibition by Mindaugas Navakas shown at the same venue. Valdas Ozarinskas: I have admired Navakas’ work for a long time. As an architect, I feel a strong kinship with it. Yet this particular ‘discussion’ with Navakas only takes place within the realm of titles. You can see that apart from the steel, my installation has no other links to ‘navakoids’. EG: Your installations, which usually follow on from longer or shorter conceptual actions, benefit from a verbal commentary. It is a shame that your texts do not appear in the exhibition. VO: I share my stories with a lot of people. EG: Tell us now how you have been torturing people. VO: In three days, I took photographs of 36 people with 1.5 kg steel ingots in their mouth. I would meet someone I know and talk them into taking part in the action. They would, of course, have no inkling of what was about to happen. Most of the pictures were taken inside public buildings, in the Contemporary Art Centre of Vilnius, in the lobby of National Philharmonic, the Lietuvos Aidas Gallery and elsewhere. I carried a white blanket with me, which I would place on the floor and then ask the person to open his or her mouth and close their eyes… EG: Awful, isn’t it! VO: …then I would carefully place the cold ingot of steel into their mouth. EG: Surely they opened their eyes when you did that? VO: That is obvious from the photographs. EG: I suppose after that torturous experience they did not feel wronged and understood they were taking part in something meaningful. VO: Well, they were not too happy with being photographed. I invited everyone to the opening and it seems that the action brought no major losses. EG: I thought the concept of the installation worked; the steel ingots were arranged on the floor, each accompanied by a picture of someone holding a piece of steel in their mouth. Yet I felt like it was a first draft, as it was technologically faulty. VO: Yes, I intend to etch the images with mordant on steel. This would give me a durable piece of craft that is possible to transport and export to other places. The steel ingots have to be fixed to the floor so that anyone who might feel like kicking them would be aware of injuring their feet. It is my fault that the installation was not durable enough. I believe that contemporary art should not require you to walk around it on tiptoes.



EG: How did you come by such handsome steel ingots? You didn’t make them yourself, did you? VO: Why would you make something when the world is full of things? You only have to put them to good use. The steel came from the storage house of a manufacturer. These are standard models for the hardness of steel. EG: Like Duchamp, you also like the “ready-made“? VO: I like industrially manufactured stuff especially in large amounts. Once, I went to buy some metal shelving brackets. They asked me: “how many do you need?“ And I asked them: “how many have you got?“ Luckily, I didn’t have enough money to buy all of them. EG: You have a mania of buying and storing things. Yet your inclination strikes me as a conceptual or ironic practice far removed from buying crystal vases, expensive clothes or cars. VO: I have no money to buy expensive things. Also, material culture in our country has been and still remains problematic. We used to live in a country with plenty of useless things, malfunctioning or difficult to apply, while at the same time everyone suffered a kind of deficiency of things. Now outdated junk is sold at high prices. The modification of the function of an item matters not only in art, but in everyday life, too. Besides changing the function, monotony and plenitude is also of great consequence to the idea of the work. I try to acquire as many as possible of same articles. I have bought different items of primitive medical equipment, one hundred pairs of ice-skates, two boxes of galoshes, accordion cases, buttons, folding beds, etc. Multiple items in contrast to a single one generate different thoughts; quantity somehow transforms into quality, numbers and repetition create specific magic of things. EG: “Good Steel-2” is not your first installation. What was at the beginning? VO: The first one was probably “Caps” in the premises of the Union of Architects in 1990. It was composed of railway workers’ caps. I still have them somewhere. Here’s one of them. EG: It is cute! Let me try it on. VO: Before that, during a Christmas exhibition at Albert’s Gallery in Kaunas I showed folding beds. At the triennial of the young architects in Kaunas, I showed screens made from cardboard chessboards. Later on, I took part in the exhibitions of the New Communication School. EG: The “Exercises for Young Housewives” showed as part of the exhibition “Pornography” were great. I had never seen such a clear and solid object in plastic and semantic terms. The egg whisks were just perfect for this exhibition. The fact that the idea behind the piece (and the entire exhibition) was not important or acceptable to everyone is another matter. I recall that the “Vampires” included your instrument for puncturing the neck artery and drawing blood from it, along with a user’s instruction guide. VO: Yes, I like all kinds of mysterious devices. In reality, it was an


apparatus for measuring liquid viscosity. Sometimes I acquire one or another type of gadget, and it provokes a new action. EG: That was the case with the AL-2 exhibited last year at the Šiaurės Atėnai Gallery. VO: The AL-2 measures changes of temperature during the day and draws a curve of time and temperature. The passage of time in that case was more important to me than changes in temperature. The AL-2 operated in my house during an entire month and drew 30 curves, which were on display. In the exhibition hall, the apparatus was drawing its last curve, while the audience was trying to change the temperature around it in every possible way. These curves, drawings of sorts, which emerged without me even touching them, stayed behind as diaries. When I look at them, I know when I was at home, what day, when I lit the fire and went to bed. The apparatus recorded or drew my time. EG: But sometimes you do have to use your hands. The two-metre metal models of rockets cannot be found lying around. I am referring to the exhibition “Fire, Fly with Me” of 1993 in the Langas Gallery. VO: It is a precise copy of a rocket designed by Simonavičius, it was welded according to his drawings, which I also redrew. We had such a famous rocket scientist, but still Lithuanians do not fly to the cosmos. EG: The installation was an example of a consistently fictitious discourse. The rocket was supplied with pictures of apparent astronauts and ideological species, etc. The metal rocket was subsequently displayed in other exhibitions, at the opening of the Jutempus centre, the young Lithuanian artists’ exhibition at Muu Gallery in Helsinki and elsewhere. The object itself strikes me as more valuable than the entire concept of “Fire, Fly with Me”. While with “Category U” it is the other way round. VO: “Category U” is a politically engaged concept and remains relevant. Because I remain an uncertified architect today, and I may never get certified if you keep reminding everyone about that installation. EG: Is the architects’ sense of humour so poor? VO: Sometimes. EG: The communication aspect is not so important to me. The wall on the balcony of the Arka Gallery looked impressive with the rows of ear tags designed to brand cows. Each had a number and the letter ‘U’. You had a picture of yourself taken with a number in your ear and assigned yourself a U category. The entire wall could have probably been filled with pictures of architects? VO: Yes, everyone was supposed to get photographed with their own number, according to a list held by the Union of Architects. Yet there were few willing to do so, though it only cost 5 Litas. EG: But to clip a number tag to someone’s ear is more pleasant that to lie down with a piece of steel in your mouth. I imagine that most architects were afraid that they would not receive the real category. But that’s absurd!


VO: Absurd. Sometimes life ends up making you sick. This gave rise to “Diffusion” that was shown last year at Arka Gallery. Ugly emotions generate anti-aesthetic images. I bought tubes painted in the colour pink that are used for taking water samples. Yet the liquid dripping from the tubes and becoming sour on the floor was not water, but milk. EG: I thought it was glue or dye. VO: It was milk. Every day I refilled the tubes with milk. EG: But the installation was not altogether anti-aesthetic. The door to the balcony was entirely screened by a huge picture of yours as if the door never existed. VO: I needed a contained the space to make the smell of milk cause nausea.

Valdas Ozarinskas was born in 1961 in Ignalina. Between 1981 and 1986, he studied architecture at The State Art Institute in Vilnius. In 1988, he took part in a competition to design a church in Ignalina, and was placed fourth. His design for a church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Šančiai won second prize. He also participated in the 1989 design competition of the Jurgis Matulaitis Church in Viršuliškės in Vilnius, and the 1992 competition for a new church in Elektrėnai. He designed a geology laboratory in Trakai, a hotel and office centre in Vilnius, a Lithuanian consular office in Seinai among others. In 1991, he created the stage design for the closing ceremony of the fourth Lithuanian Olympic Games (together with Audrius Bučas), and in 1994, stage and lighting design for the ensembles evening of the Song Festival.

EG: Which of your installations do you consider your best work? VO: Unfortunately it was created outside of Vilnius and it is impossible to repeat. It was not even photographed. Last summer I was lucky enough to take part in the international symposium “Project ‘Island’” in Gdansk along with other artists and architects from the Baltic States. The architects were expected to create designs for the island architecture as well as projects for several specific buildings (the Multimedia Centre and others), but the main idea behind the symposium was about the close collaboration of contemporary artists and architects in solving urban problems. Initially, I was going to participate as an architect with building designs. I produced models from metal and from mirror glass and presented my concept for the island. However, instead of presenting all of this in a usual way, I felt tempted to create an installation. I was given a 500 sq m area, in an old grain warehouse. I like large spaces. I attached ten overhead projectors to the ceiling; in the darkness they projected two-metre large transparencies of my models onto the floor. Everyone who saw the installation took me for an artist, though it was a veritable architectural project but presented in an unusual way. EG: So this was an installation you invested the most in? VO: Correct. By the way, I also had an idea for an installation with overhead projectors for the video art festival in 1993 at the CAC in Vilnius. Yet I was not allowed to show it in the lobby because there was another exhibition on, and mine would have only lasted for two hours. EG: Though not a “dissident“, you know how it feels when somebody does not allow something. VO: Well, everyone has to experience that, unfortunately. EG: Do you know what your next installation is going to be? VO: I have it in my head. I am looking for an adequate space.




Vilnius as the new Disneyland without the amusement park, designed for those chocolate-box-loving Old Town tourists and fans of plastic cleanliness Cheap paint protects from everything that may stick out like a sore thumb and make you think. Vilnius is the new Disneyland without an amusement park, designed for chocolate-box Old Town tourists and fans of plastic cleanliness. Yet the actual masters of the city are the real estate owners who prefer to make investments and profit. The city is seen exclusively as real estate with a UNESCO quality seal; its architects show their clients issues of Wallpaper* magazine meant for contemporary metrosexual businessmen as aspirational material. Vilnius has become wallpaper (let’s forget these chocolate boxes); its architecture is the perfect setting for characters of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It is not surprising; the contemporary characters of Vilnius are a model and a businessman. He is only able to reveal his romantic and noble heart by bringing her to a new flat in the Old Town of Vilnius.

As soon as he enters the shrink’s office, Valdas Ozarinskas starts laughing. It reminds me of a frequent scene that plays out in Woody Allen’s films – whose characters insist that they are not susceptible to hypnosis, since nobody has ever succeeded in inducing them. In the meantime, the shrink – who has the vibe of some witch doctor, skilled in the use of herbs, magic and psychology – doesn’t object. He laughs together with Valdas and imperceptibly talks him into imagining that at that moment he is not actually there but is approaching Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye. When Valdas says that he can imagine it perfectly, the shrink asks him to open the door to the villa. I then notice that Valdas has closed his eyes and, yielding to the shrink’s suggestion, asks him for clarification on how the door can be opened: “by pushing or pulling”? It becomes obvious that Valdas has already been hypnotised. From his facial expressions and bodily movements, it is evident that he is walking around an imaginary Villa Savoye. My guess is that he has gone up to its rooftop, as he is staring out towards the horizon and remains still in a reclining posture, as if having made himself comfortable on a lounge chair LC4. He then starts narrating: VILNIUS AS A DECORATION ON A WEDDING CAKE Vilnius has become just another chocolate box cover, another decoration on a wedding cake, another fulfilled petty bourgeois dream with inflated real estate prices and walls freshly painted every week. Cheap paint hides a thousand flaws. Vilnius has applied makeup like an old hooker hiding her wrinkles. In fact, Vilnius has always been a hooker; humped by almost all of the neighbouring nations and travellers, her walls were spawned by Genghis Khan’s heirs, soldiers who banged everything in their path, metal crusaders, and hairy Swedes. Vilnius became the grave for Napoleon’s soldiers who screwed everything that moved during the Russian campaign and who, after their defeat, were so famished that they devoured the specimens of the Medical Faculty of Vilnius University.


TOM, NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV AND JERRY The legend goes that Khrushchev’s favourite cartoon characters were Tom and Jerry. If you allow me to be anachronistic, I can easily picture Khrushchev eating caviar in Hotel Lithuania while alternating between looking at the Old Town of Vilnius and watching the frolicking cartoon characters on a flat-screen TV, who come from a country that used to be Lithuania’s enemy during the Cold War. I’m thinking about it because today Vilnius (and Lithuania) is ruled by the same corrupt hierarchical system as that of the Soviet period: it declares certain values but lives by different ones, though it would be much simpler to acknowledge the lack of values. Architects are no longer in control of the city, but also the objects that they design, and architecture serves the needs of the bourgeoisie while the rebellious proletariat has left for other countries looking for work.


Opening ceremony for the Frank Zappa memorial, 1995

WHEN WILL THE POSTERS “VILNIUS WILL ALSO DO TO LIVE IN” BE HUNG IN VILNIUS? What have we created in Vilnius during the sixteen years of independence? Let’s look back: in the interwar period, Kaunas managed to rejuvenate itself beyond recognition with unique and notable architecture, even entire ensembles. In the meantime, the moneyed contemporary Vilnius has nothing to boast of. Public spaces are disappearing; cinemas have been privatised; and absurd monuments to the newly constructed national past have been erected. The city invests in the pavements of the main shopping streets, but no impressive public buildings have appeared in the capital. Private businesses are not inclined to invest money in buildings for non-bourgeois taste, thus even the high-rise buildings of apparently functional geometrical forms (you wouldn’t call them skyscrapers) are unjustifiably mannerist.


VILNIUS IS COLLAPSING! Do contemporary people fear responsibility? I don’t belong to the generation that was dying to be the first to fly to the Moon. I’m not interested in Olympic records and the construction of the tallest skyscraper. And I know that I won’t be able to free not only political, but also architectural circles from corruption. I’d prefer to free imagination from the bounds of pragmatism. I’d be happy if someone would dare to be drastic and present a vision of pulling down if not the entire Old Town of Vilnius (Le Corbusier didn’t spare the Old Town of Paris when he proposed to demolish it together with the Notre Dame Cathedral, and build cross-shaped high-rises in the area), then at least a product of failed fantasy – the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.


Suddenly Valdas takes a guitar and starts playing experimental rock. To talk about architecture is probably the same as to dance about music, but Valdas is the only one among all of my acquaintances who can play architecture on his guitar. Somehow I feel the urge to leave Valdas alone – after all, it’s his hypnosis session that is taking place. I go out through the door and upon seeing green grass and white walls, I realise that the session has been taking place both in Villa Savoye and the CAC. Session tape recorder: Valentinas Klimašauskas


The presentation of an unplugged cassette tape and a CD by Lithuanian band Rojaus Tūzai exceeded the factory of Foje, the TV tower of Naktinės Personos and the hair salon of Lemon’s Joy in terms of originality An athletes training session was underway at the National Track and Field Athletics Centre, better known as the Žemaitės Street Manège. The trainer kept instructing the sportswear-clad kids to run. It was perhaps their first foray into the world of acting. After the first half an hour of the presentation, they realised that running in circles to symphonic music while guests gathered to munch on sandwiches, sip wine and get in their way, was not so pleasurable after all. The merciless trainer had to chase away the sportsmen who showed up for a free sandwich. The training did not stop even after the band Rojaus Tūzai [in English, Aces of Paradise] began their performance on a rather shaky stage rigged-up in the middle of the manège. In what was a very chilly space, imbued nevertherless with the smell of sweat and rubber tracks, the four musicians looked innocent and sterile in their blinding white costumes as if they were Angels of Paradise instead of Aces of Paradise. The group had wanted to record an unplugged concert for a long time, but new obstacles kept emerging and the project was repeatedly postponed. ‘Just the right person, Darius Rutkys, turned up. He happens to own a good baseball bat and uses it to hit people over the head. And this is how the result was achieved,’ said band member Povilas Meškėla about the project. Besides Meškėla and Rutkys, eight other musicians took part in the unplugged project. Two Jullietas of the “Love and Death in Verona“ who sang on the album, Aušra Prūselaitytė and Brigita Bublytė, were also walking around together during the presentation. Loreta Motuzaitė, the third singer recorded for this album, fell short of time to appear on the stage with Rojaus Tūzai. Loreta died on 31 August last year, at 19:38. Twenty-two minutes later, at the “Rock March“ concert in Vilnius, Rojaus Tūzai were singing not with her, but for her. After singing all of the songs recorded on the album, Meškėla signed autographs with genuine angelic patience. His patience did not falter even when reporters from three different television channels and the press, chasing away aggravating fans, lined up and asked the same question: “Why did the presentation take place at the arena?“ “A CD is like a manège. The athletes here are not just running. It is about moving forward. All of us are moving. The centre of a CD, the lens that plays music is the stage and us. You also took part in ‘the CD“. All of this has been well considered. Our action is an enlarged model of a CD. It was conceived by Valdas Ozarinskas and Aida Čeponytė’. It was probably the tenth time Meškėla had explained the concept, repeatedly making sure they understood him correctly. The host of the evening, Arnas Klivečka, delivered, in a formal and elevated tone, something close to a prophecy to Lithuania by Rojaus Tūzai,



Designing the displays for large group and survey exhibitions of contemporary art became a regular opportunity to make ambitious architectural statements. Unlike solo exhibitions, the authorship of curated group exhibitions is always dispersed — neither their content nor aesthetics are based on the vision of a single person. In some cases — including that of the CAC during Ozarinskas’ employement — the opportunity to take up the position of that “single person” presents itself to the exhibition architect, at least on aesthetic and visual terms. It was during this same period — around the year 2000 — that the decorative interiors of the CAC (a legacy of the 1980s) were gradually being transformed into a version of the white cube. The material base of the institution was also morphing and was being supplemented with audio visual equipment, as well as new standardised exhibition modules and solutions. The furniture originally designed for the bar Full Metal Jacket was organically integrated into the mix. “The cycle of a perpetual ruin, built and unbuilt with every exhibition that comes and goes continues at the CAC, like any art centre today”, wrote Andreas Angelidakis, the architect of the 12th Baltic Triennial, who referred to the CAC as The Palace of Re-Invention. Each show — a re-invention of the space of the building. One of the exhibitions Ozarinskas designed was the large 1998 survey “Liberated Things”. In it he continued an experiment started for the exhibition “New Lithuania” in Gdansk and partitioned the Great Hall of the CAC with polyethylene sheet. It was a particularly pragmatic solution, since the cheap and easy to fasten polymer provided a way of managing the vast room. It also provided a way of neutralising the aesthetics of the works on display, which may have contrasted with the architect’s taste. Valdas loved displaying architectural models freely floating in space as if they were in a state of weightlessness, as if emphasising that architectural ideas don’t need foundations, pedestals or any other type of support. Architecture that doesn’t rest on anything is Ozarinskas’ maxim, which brings us back to de Saint-Exupéry’s idea — what would flying aeroplanes be like if there was no Earth and therefore no risk of falling. The group exhibition “Tradition and Future”, organised by the Lithuanian Artists’ Association in 2001, was another attempt to reassess the routine of rudimentary group exhibitions by asking the curators (in this case — Elona Lubytė and Ieva Kuizinienė) to make a selection from the artworks submitted by the members and entrusting the exhibition design to the CAC architect. Ozarinskas turned the Association’s ambition “to raise the bar” into an architectural metaphor by forming partitions between different parts of the exhibition through the use of high jumping bars, and hanging them horizontally at knee height. The translucent yet effective demarcation line made of functional sports equipment did not disturb the exhibits, but for those who got the joke, the space was ringing with the laughter of a prankster. In 2005 Ozarinskas designed the exhibition architecture for the 9th Baltic Triennial in collaboration with Raimundas Malašauskas, one of the curators of the exhibition. The exhibition had dozens of names

Exhibition “Liberated Things” at the CAC Vilnius, 1998


instead of one and explored black markets, shadow phenomena and the ecology of secrets — everything that resists the tyranny of transparency and visibility. Their starting point was an idea proposed by the philosopher Jalal Toufic that a straight line could become the deepest labyrinth. The exhibition floorplan was additionally informed by the notion of “shadow walls” and a map of the CAC that depicted the grid of geo-energy “lines“ found at the venue, drawn for the Triennial by the artist Artūras Raila. Opaque black plastic partitions were perforated with mysterious dates and place names punched through the plastic (it was a part of an installation by the artist Melvin Moti, which documented the biography of a ghost who has been popular in spiritual seances for several centuries). The shimmering lettering suggested that the exhibition space continued behind the “wall”, but there were no demarcated passageways between one space and another, and so the audience had to force the plastic curtains open to pass through. For the next Baltic Triennial that followed in 2009, Ozarinskas proposed to build a foam model of the CAC’s floorplan inside the CAC building, at four-fifths of its actual size. This concept was later reimplemented in an exhibition curated by Malašauskas at Tamayo in Mexico City — only this time, the copy of the building was even smaller. “When a replica is installed inside the original,” wrote Malašauskas, “an interesting elliptical device is created: it is similar to the one employed by writers who tend to narrate one fiction inside another fiction. Through the ‘fictive nature’ of the ‘inner fiction’ the first one, the one that frames it, end up standing for the real.” These were just a few exhibitions created by Ozarinskas. In many other exhibitions, the architectural gestures were not necessarily so evident, or were further removed from what is conventionally considered exhibition design. In 2004, Ozarinskas created suitcases for each of the artists who travelled from Lithuania to an exhibition in Puerto Rico, which was co-curated by Malašauskas (the project was organised in place of the Olympic Games, which Puerto Rico lost out on hosting, despite all their efforts). In 2013, he created veils for a survey exhibition of scenography at the CAC that separated the exhibition’s mise-en-scènes from one another, and instructed the curators to display the exhibits using not architectural drawings or sketches but sports references — essentially the rules of tennis. The spaces of group exhibitions — often open plan and packed with video screens and overlapping sounds — echoed the principles Ozarinskas applied in his interiors; “I find it absolutely beautiful when you don’t feel where the floor, the ceiling, the walls and transitions are”. This influence worked in both directions — in an interview for a magazine, he lists how working at the CAC has influenced his other projects: the return of fascination with the colour white, the use of mobile elements that are easy to transport, the disposition to refrain from hiding things, the desire to design objects as if they were road signs, i.e. clearly visible, functional and defining the rules of conduct. Ozarinskas’ architecture had a tremendous impact on how people became accustomed to seeing contemporary art in Vilnius.


Suitcases designed for the project “PR 04 (A Tribute to the Messenger)” in Puerto Rico, 2004


Ozarinskas was fascinated with colours, or, more precisely, he had a tendency to embrace one specific colour for a long time. The colour of his choosing would be strongly present in his work as well as his personal life and would later give way to another. Photographs from the opening of the exhibition “Painterly” at the CAC in 2000 show Ozarinskas dressed from head to toe in bright orange, which stood in sharp contrast to the prevailing aesthetics of the paintings on show, but was identical to the colour of the pre-fabricated camping tent that housed the exhibition “Four Architectures” in Paris. Red, the colour of the Porsche that Ozarinskas and Aida Čeponytė owned for a long time, became the official excuse for the selection committee of the first competition for the Hannover pavilion to dismiss their proposal due to “the lack of a colour solution”. Yellow — the colour said to appear brightest to the human eye. White, which he admitted he grew to like as a result of working with the white cube aesthetics at the CAC, became the title of a video portrait of Ozarinskas’ dying mother. Uncoated steel, which he used for architectural models and in interior design. Blue — light blue at first, then dark blue, both picked up from the tradition of workwear. Later on there were more and more “dark” outfits and works, such as “Black Pillow” and 250 “invisible” black chairs that Ozarinskas designed and which the CAC still uses in most of its exhibitions and events.

The words of the invitation suddenly resonate with the lines that the poet Julius Keleras wrote seventeen years later for the annotation of “Filters”: What grows between filters does not necessarily survive. The filter cannot see itself, unless its pupils close. Between a filter and filter, only fog can endure. The mousetrap of a filter can catch even foxes. If you grow into one with a filter, you won’t know where the door is. Women’s filters are different to those of ficuses. God is an impenetrable filter. In the dark, all filters are the same. The filter is a skin that is not visible to anyone. Sunlight filters everything except for love.

The last exhibition by Ozarinskas, “Filters”, was made up of almost entirely black photographs, but the colour was not the only dark thing about the exhibition. “I took photographs using welding filters. At first glance, these images appear to be black. But on closer inspection you can see that the black is not a pure black: it has nuances, and slight hints of other colours. It is not for nothing that gradations of the colour black are thought to be in the thousands ...” Ozarinskas described it as “a bit of a socialised project: after all, we each have our own filter, and we see life each in our own way. This time my works will be almost black, and most of their eyes closed.” In the monotonous movements of bodies in the films he made with Čeponytė, in his architectural gestures, even in his pranks, and above all, in his art events there is always a deep, almost existential, or perhaps cosmic, underlying darkness. His project “The Sun in Vilnius Never Sets”, which Ozarinskas proposed in 2009 for one of the main squares of Vilnius and which was supposed to be carried out in cooperation with NASA, is nothing else than a confrontation with darkness to the greatest extent possible for a city. “True knowledge of any kind is entirely impossible. One can list the appearances, feel the atmosphere, reveal the feeling of absurdity in different societies, spaces, and situations. Life here and there is happening at the same rhythm, the scenery is changing — the rhythm remains. Day after day, dull and monotonous life, and identical situations.” This is an excerpt from the invitation written by Ozarinskas and Čeponytė on the occasion of their “Rowing” event that took place in the academic rowing pool in Vilnius in 1997. The footage of the event was subsequently presented at exhibitions in Lithuania and the United Kingdom, where they also restaged it.


The academic rowing tank in Vilnius, photographed in preparation for the action “Rowing” (with Aida Čeponytė), 1997



The CAC Cinema was redesigned by Valdas Ozarinskas and Audrius Bučas in 2012. By means of this reconstruction, the cinema hall, which Vytautas Čekanauskas had originlly designed in 1968, regained its original purpose. In the 1990s, the space served as a video screening room and independent cinema, and in 2001, after the NATO Assembly that was held at the CAC, it was transformed into an exhibition space. In that year, its floor, and the floor of nearly the entire building, was covered with a polymer paint ice-grey in colour. The space also hosted lectures and other events, but the unusual acoustics of the space turned out to be favourable only for silent artworks. It was the acoustics and the need to darken the space that became the principal starting points for the new project in 2012. This part of the exhibition also includes three videos by Ozarinskas and some of the jewellery that he made. The videos are comparable to television adverts, featuring Ozarinskas, Aida Čeponytė or their daughter (“Red” and “Poison Girl” were made in collaboration with Aida Čeponytė) and promote everything that is beautiful and elegant, while remaining brutally mundane. In the gloomiest of the three — “Dy Range” — Ozarinskas is playing with both a bracelet made from a metal spring and the patience of the viewer, who struggles to meet his metallic gaze. The Cinema also includes the heavy rubber pillows, on which the audience can sit, that were made for the concert by Monolake — the Berlinbased minimal techno band — who performed at the CAC in 2001. Each of the pillows has a handle, supposedly, for Robert Henke of Monolake to be able to bring the pillows to Berlin, but in reality making it very convenient to move them between spaces. The metal doors of the hall are part of the massive “metallisation” project of the CAC, during which almost all of the doors in the building were replaced. The bulletin board at the entrance to the hall was made by using a spirit-level as a shelf — obviously without the need to use another spirit-level to hang it. Finally, the only permanent exhibition at the CAC — George Maciunas (Jurgis Mačiūnas) Fluxus Cabinet next to the Cinema Hall — was designed also by Ozarinskas back in 1997. This display has had much more influence on the CAC’s programme and exhibitions than is given credit. Much like Ozarinskas, Mačiūnas was primarily a designer, who produced utopian ideas and involved groups of others in them.

Below are a selection of some of Ozarinskas’ favourite movies: Claude Lelouch, A Man and a Woman Jean-Luc Godard: Breathless, Band of Outsiders and others The films featuring actor Louis de Funès: Oscar, Fantômas, The Gendarme Gets Married, The Big Restaurant and others Federico Fellini: Nights of Cabiria, Ginger and Fred and others Francis Veber, The Toy Mike Nichols, The Graduate Giuseppe Bertolucc, Berlinguer, I Love You Quentin Tarantino: Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Iain Softley, K-PAX Sam Mendes, American Beauty Jim Jarmusch: Dead Man, Coffee And Cigarettes Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, The Big Lebowski François Truffaut, The 400 Blows Alain Resnais, Hiroshima Mon Amour Woody Allen: Stardust Memories and others Krzysztof Kieślowski: the Three Colours trilogy Michelangelo Antonioni, The Passenger

It is worth mentioning that our “George Maciunas” grew up in Ignalina, watching several films per day at the local cinema where his mother worked, and later he himself worked with a semi-legal video screening room accross the building — it closed down just about when it was becoming possible to download movies online.

Reconstruction of the CAC Cinema (with Audrius Bučas), 2012




The reconstruction of the CAC cloakroom at the end of the 1990s was one of Ozarinskas’ early interior projects. Visitorsʼ coats were no longer stored in the basement, but rather in the lower foyer with a design featuring Ozarinskas’ favourite material — steel. Instead of using regular metal cloakroom tokens he created oversized plastic ones, deliberately designed for heavy duty coat or denim pockets rather than those of fine shirts or sophisticated jackets.

Four” by the Finnish author Esa Kirkkopelto and directed by Rolandas Rastauskas in 1996, for which the artist couple created the set design, costumes and props.

During this period, Ozarinskas studied clothing and began accumulating his own collection of workwear. The endeavour began as an opportunity to create a personal wardrobe, and then later, the collection became an extension of it, before it eventually became a continuous self-accumulating project, a goal in and of itself. For some time, he and Aida Čeponytė also styled members of the rock band Rojaus Tūzai — mostly dressing them in military trench coats. In 1999 Ozarinskas began collaborating with the Fashion Infection festival — that still takes place each year — on its set design, and in 2001, the catwalk welcomed models of the collection “Central European Men” which he and Čeponytė created. It consisted of several of their male friends wearing their own clothes. Undoubtedly, this conceptual collection was influenced by the fashion designer Martin Margiela, whose name was frequently on the lips of those in the fashion world of Vilnius at that time, and who was celebrated for truly unconventional presentations of his collections. However, the “Central European Men” collection can be seen in close relation to Ozarinskas and Čeponytė’s video installations such as “Red”, “Itʼs Better To Do Something Than Nothing At All”, “Poison Girl” and “A Man and A Woman”. Although most of the works were shown in public on just one occasion and covered much broader topics than just stereotypical gender roles, they have become iconic works of Lithuanian feminist art. Household routines, socially constructed beauty ideals, the training and observation of the body, and the division of labour are examined in their video installations through the figure of a female artist and expectations towards a family of artists, and this time the object of scrutiny is the Central European man. “By reflecting on the structural violence that is characteristic of patriarchal order, Čeponytė and Ozarinskas do not evade their own personalities, rather they seem to indicate that they, too, are inevitably influenced by the norms of the system, which are adopted insensibly, through daily routine,” wrote the art critic Jurga Daubaraitė in her BA thesis. The term “Central European men” is imbued with aspiration (the urge to identify with Central European rather than Soviet culture), irony and reconciliation (with perhaps the less desirable aspects of the identity). The phrase is the verbal equivalent of the glass wall, which featured in Ozarinskas’ design for the home of the Lithuanian television star Jogaila Morkūnas. The transparent wall was designed to separate the living room from the garage — a self-deprecating comment on the prevailing cult of cars: after all, the artists would visit the construction site of this house in their own red Porsche, an icon of that very same cult.

“Central European Man” (with Aida Čeponytė), 2001

During this exhibition, a screen beside the CAC cloakroom shows footage from a theatre production based on the play “Tomorrow At

Photograph from Ozarinskas’ personal album




The lower foyer of the CAC that had remained largely unchanged since the building opened was redesigned and reconfigured by Ozarinskas in 2006. His primary goal, in his own words, was to eliminate the “non-communicative” aesthetics of the modernist entrance hall that had endured. After first dismantling the wooden ceiling and other elements of decor, which concealed cavities and imperfections in the structure of the building, Ozarinskas worked to completely change the logic of the space. He populated it with “reincarnations” of the standard white plastic boxes widely used in the food industry, that in their new life would serve as shelves, display plinths, post boxes and pouffes, and with internet “stations”, to continue the functions of the Infolab that occupied the space previously. Instead of tabletops and a traditional welcome desk, Ozarinskas inroduced wings of gliders produced by a Lithuanian company, a canoe, and massive security monitors, everything suspended from the ceiling from ropes, hooks and belts. The former wooden ceiling was replaced with light fixtures embedded in the core structure of the building like in a honeycomb.

All those willing are invited to implement the scenario — the institution is going to curate it on their behalf. “I want to start the game (...). I am ready to accept all of the offers, but not necessarily to use them.”

According to Ozarinskas, the previous interior clashed with the ethos of the Contemporary Art Centre (established in 1992). “It is as if you have come inside to wait for something. It was designed in accordance with the principles of halls in the “red” era. As if, having entered, you would have to find a chair to sit in, and then be informed that the director will let you know when you can come in. This kind of architecture is so hard to overpower that I intend to compete with it by ‘inhabiting’ it (...) After all, if I was designing a loft apartment, it would have more or less the same components — a table, a chair, a television ... Inside my house, I cannot imagine having anything more or less than the CAC lobby should have, and vice versa. (...) and later all that is ‘mine’ in here, will naturally disappear.” “This place will be ‘mine’ for only one day. The Infolab, by the way, will function within this interior according to its own rules. If certain objects appear unsuitable for the foyer as a public space, they can be attached to the ceiling, to avoid being in the way. Friends and colleagues can also bring items for inclusion here. You can bring designs that do not fit anywhere else.”

Reconstruction of the CAC’s foyer, 2006




Lithuanian Pavilion’s design team. This radical building according to Wallpaper*’s Jonathan Bell was “about as far removed from a traditional building as you can get…Designed by architects Audrius Bučas, Marina Bučienė, Aida Čeponytė, Gintaras Kuginys and Valdas Ozarinskas, the building gets top marks from Wallpaper* for daring to break away from the orthodox aesthetics.” (Wallpaper*, May 2000). “This has nothing to do with our national culture,” commented the furious Lithuanian authorities without having read the article while simultaneously supporting Wallpaper*’s opinion. These facts have been highlighted here only to illuminate the broad media profile of Valdas Ozarinskas as a result of the games he played at the very margins of media-linked practices and disciplines: architecture, design, fashion, advertising, and not forgetting art and exhibition design. Yet, indeed, our man worked as a waiter in the restaurant of Vilnius’ railway station while studying architecture at The State Art Institute of the SSR of Lithuania in the early 80s.

This could have been the headline of a seedy article in some local Lithuanian or Hannover-based newspaper about Valdas Ozarinskas (b. 1961) — the Vilnius-based creative polymath whose unapologetic gestures generated mass media attention on more than a few occasions and almost always caused a scandal. Many times he would go unnoticed by the bewildered crowds that gathered to see his outputs, such as the unveiling of Frank Zappa’s monument in Vilnius in 1996 for which Ozarinskas put the anarchomposer’s bronze head on a stainless steel pipe. Or the official Days of Vilnius in 1996, when bemused visitors to a theme park in the city’s main square stared at equally bemused goats in iron cages, brought there to symbolise the revival of nature (Ozarinskas was one of the municipal event’s artistic directors). A few years later a similar collection of cages, designed by the same man would accommodate honorable guests of a local TV programme. “Uncanny,” remarked one of the guests to camera when asked how she felt about being a participant. Likewise, the Fashion Infection, another particularly media-oriented event, billed as a sort of Vilnius fashion week, witnessed an acute manifestation of Ozarinskas’ particular brand of aesthetics — a parade of clumsy, bearded, male models in their own clothes climbing and tripping over the catwalk. This was Ozarinskas’ autumn–winter 2001 collection. The hyper-casual models were the artist’s friends and colleagues who came to the limelight straight from the cafe downstairs, wearing the same clothes they had worn a day before.1 A popular Lithuanian interior design magazine featured the apartment of Ozarinskas and his long-time wife and collaborator Aida Čeponytė last year. Public interest in the couple’s own living environment was an inevitability of being thrown into the spotlight of EXPO 2000 in Hannover, where Ozarinskas was a key member of the 1  The same men were photographed for Central European Men (2002), the recent rendition of the Warholian portrait tradition by Ozarinskas and Čeponytė, consisting of straightforward, but friendly mugshots of their male friends in Vilnius.


HEADLINES, KEYWORDS AND QUOTES FOR OZE This could be a headline for the article about Ozarinskas for NU magazine. Despite the similarity of his nickname to another Oze (Amédée Ozenfant), the companion of Le Corbusier, Vilnius’ Oze could compete with the modernist master himself in terms of unrealised projects. Being part of the


Postcard “Monument to Frank Zappa (Konstantinas Bogdanas and the School of New Communication), 2001”. Published by So-Called Records, Vilnius,

first wave of conceptual architecture in Lithuania (together with Bučas, Cukermanas, Kuginys) in the early 90s following the collapse of the USSR, Ozarinskas remained quite probably the most model-imprisoned architect in Lithuania. Only two of his prolific output of projects found their way to the construction site: the EXPO 2000 pavilion and Villa Jogaila. UTOPIA INTERRUPTUS: A FAMOUS TV STAR LEAVES HIS HOUSE UNFINISHED “This should be the kind of home that makes you a stranger inside it. This should be the kind of home that takes you out of the body, so that person-in-house-in-country can be analysed from the outside.” (Vito Acconci about his architectural explorations)

Villa Jogaila was commissioned by and named after the famous Lithuanian TV star. He was supposedly making enough big money to realise his ambitious desire for a jet-set lifestyle. He needed a modern, chic home where the rest of the local pop world could be blown away not only by the grandiosity of an invitation, but also by the architectural gesture. And of course, cosiness played a role too.

from modernist and sci-fi vocabulary, Villa Jogaila was supposed to become a private house that had not yet been seen in Lithuania — a perfect steel home for a contemporary dandy, a member of the nouveau-riche and a cosmopolitan trend-setter. The construction started a few miles outside of Vilnius, close to the highway so that the drivers would be able to memorise their route2. A specially manufactured set of steel beams were designed to run deep into the ground, and protrude even higher above, but perhaps “the territory” preceded “the map” by too much as Jogaila soon cancelled any further construction of the building. He definitely wanted to live inside, not outside of his house. After having acknowledged the gap between his bourgeois dream and intergalactic home, he left the construction unfinished, in a style somewhat different to Mr. Guggenheim, who sacrificed seeing the art to be exhibited at his Frank Lloyd Wright-designed museum, as well as himself, since the building was finished after his death. Jogaila didn’t want to become such a hero. The unfinished construction still looms as a monument for a collapsed utopia. MODERNISM STRIKES FORWARD, TO THE UNKNOWN TARGET “I am more interested in the interior of the factory, where the issues of engineering take place instead of aesthetics. For example, an assembly line, the relationship of moving and stable parts. There’s a need for different types of solutions instead of ‘beautiful’ or ‘more beautiful’.” (Oze, 2001)

“So what if you were living in a building that looked like a factory and felt like a factory, and were paying top dollar for it?” asks Tom Wolfe in 1981 while criticising the architecture of Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. The question remains: who “pays top dollar” for this type of enterprise? Or: who dares to inhabit it? Despite the apparent inexpensiveness of Oze’s space-shuttle-like architecture, neither the nouveau riche nor state institutions dared to commission it on a large scale. A modernist-like situation of the elite’s conflict with society arose, resulting from the futurist and utopian design provided by the architects involved in the group Private Ideology.3 The economically deprived Lithuanian society dwelling on retro-utopia and historicist dreams of wealth and pride (and consequently puffy regional neo-baroque in terms of style)

Interior design for the bar Full Metal Jacket (with Aida Čeponytė), 1995

The whole historic period was rather euphoric and fueled by the idea of national capitalism; a local version of the American dream with the promise of collective wealth. Having a good sense for “new” and “cool”, Jogaila approached Oze and following their meeting a minimalist-edged wavy object was conceived. Borrowing shapes and details


2  “I want to create things that would be clearly visible like traffic signs” (interview with Oze by Renata Šarkauskaitė, Arkitektas, spring 2002.) 3  The Private Ideology group was formed after Ozarinskas’ and Čeponytė’s competition submission for the Lithuanian pavilion at EXPO 2000 was disqualified by the selection committee together with the proposal of Audrius Bučas, Marina Bučcienė and Gintaras Kuginys. The purely technical reasons for exclusion didn’t hide the fact that the committee was not purely neutral. The first nomination was given to the project that was later favoured by a local priest wanting to turn it into a chapel. After Bučas’ and Ozarinskas’ continuous attempts to retrieve their rights, the story reached the mass-media: the results of the first tour were cancelled and a new committee organised. The project by Bučas and Kuginys was nominated first with Ozarinskas and Čeponytė coming second. The five architects started to work as a team and merged their projects into one for Hannover. Soon “private ideologists” were “recommended” to resign from the Lithuanian Architects’ Union.


didn’t have any desire to accept it. Formally closer to Dutch supermodernism or Scandinavian minimalist design, Lithuania’s radical modernists of the 90s were a lonely island in the concept-free architectural flurry of Lithuania. They neither buried the hope of the inhibited modernism of the Soviet period nor delved into post-modernist pluralism. They had their own agenda. Having extracted modernism’s pure formal essence, they mixed it with new technologies and functional demands to be launched at almost blobby speed. Too fast, too far. The morphology of movement, speed, and flight in particular remained a constant feature of Oze’s projects. While utilising classical functions of cult architecture, such as teleportation and transcendence, he would hook up with aerodynamics and the functions of various transportation engines like automobiles, aeroplanes and space-shuttles. The small model of the General Motors pavilion designed by Lester Associations for the New York World Fair in 1969 remained Oze’s favourite toy for quite some time. This archetypical desire to fly bears an inevitable utopian fate and symbolically links the discussed models and two Lithuanian pilots who tried to reach their home country

Construction site of Villa Jogaila, 1994

by a small plane from New York in 1932. Although they wanted to hit the world flight record, the collapse happened above Poland. Yet their faces reached Lithuanian banknotes. MIES VAN DER ROHE MEETS A BLOB IN A SPACE-SHUTTLE “This wing-shaped steel pavilion is allegedly a thinly veiled reference to Lithuania’s (hitherto unknown) contribution to the history of flight. Perhaps visitors will be sufficiently intrigued by the swooping exterior to make the trip inside (and see the 19th century steam-powered aeroplane),” comments Jonathan Bell in Wallpaper*.

Indeed, the seamless pavilion resembles a space shuttle that transgresses the notion of Lithuania as a country of delayed modernisation


(despite its role as the Silicon Valley of the former USSR). Even if the take-off is yet to happen, the yellow pavilion provides a symbolic overcompensation for those who think that they haven’t fully experienced the blast of the International Style. Yet there is still room to jump higher. Oze decides to connect the intergalactic dots in the competition for the renovation the Port of Fredericia in Denmark in 2001. Where the big oil containers on the seashore make the surroundings look like a sci-fi landscape, he feels at home. “Those self-sustaining metal objects don’t need decoration, however they could be re-designed,” this was his and Aida’s starting point, and generated the decision to sample indicators from the surface of a space shuttle. These dot-like details used to position the space-craft among other flying objects like satellites or the Moon, resurfaced on the oil containers. The idea was not only to increase the spectacularity of the landscape. “It would reposition the area of Fredericia in the constellation of cosmos objects thus entering the intergalactic algorithm. Some of the indicators would perform its original function and would send data from Fredericia to satellites. The feedback would return as a daily satellite photo of Fredericia” (from Oze’s and Čeponytė‘s proposal). TAKE A TRAIN FROM VILNIUS TO DETROIT VIA RIGA The idea of a portable terminal is at the core of most of Oze’s architectural production, both as a metaphor and as a model. Without criticising the railway station of Vilnius, one could simply jump to the closest neighbouring capital, Riga in Latvia. Ieva Auzina, Riga’s writer, introduces her city to English-speaking readers while quoting the book Modulations about Detroit: “Cities or places that don’t have so much tend to create opportunities. People tend to use their imagination to compensate. People tend to dream of what others have or what it’s like to be in other places.”4 Well, it perfectly fits the situation in Vilnius too and explains where Oze and his colleagues are coming from: Jeff Mills, one of the key producers of Detroit techno, defines his music as a medium between the raving audience and the future. No mistake: the architect is a terminal of the future as well as a music producer of obsessively repetitive techno. If we don’t believe in the idea of future anymore, there is still room to dream about it or at least to stick the “We have seen the Future“ pin from New York’s World Fair of 1965 onto our t-shirts. However futro, the new neologism for retro-futurist style hardly applies to Oze’s vision as there’s too little retro. He is not a big fan of Detroit techno either: Oze likes melody, funkiness and the human voice. THE FUTURE OF COLOUR IS BRIGHT (Rem Koolhaas) What kind of music does he like to listen to at home? At some point Ozarinskas favoured Fatboy Slim, but never shook the habit of watching French movies in their original language despite having no comprehension of the dialogue. He listens to the sound of the language as he follows the editing cuts and observes the interior details. A shower runs in the middle of the living room, blocking the sound 4   Rooseum newsletter 3:2002, Malmö, 2002.


of the TV. The softly rendered corners of the space move closer to the custom made lamps. We are in the apartment of Oze and Aida Čeponytė in Vilnius. A natural stop after intergalactic travel, home is an extension of their practice. Oze, a designer of things rather than an architect, retains the integrity of his lifestyle: the couple’s Porsche 924, is the same colour as their video installation, “Red“, presented at the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius in 2000, and the initial red tan of the EXPO pavilion. “Red“ was conceived at home like much of Oze’s and Aida’s work. In a two-channel video installation Aida reads the “home book” of expenses and income, meticulously recorded for years. “Bread – one litas, sausage – three litas, milk – one litas...” she recites. On the second screen her fingernails are painted in red nail polish. While speaking about the ideas behind the video “Poison Girl“ (2001), which was initially supposed to be a short TV commercial about their everyday life, Oze explained that “we wanted to film what we lack in our life: a commercial video clip-like relation with reality, an ability to turn our problems into advertising type of superficiality. At the same time everyday life objects and actions are presented in a very advertising like way. You walk, drive, climb, eat while advertising your living space, your child, mouse of your computer, your lifestyle. Duration: 30 sec. Of course, colour.”5

Heavy machine guns hung above his head together with artillery rockets just below the theatrical lights, illuminating the various shades of metal that pieced together NATO’s bullet-proof interior. Customers reclined in chairs and were served drinks by waiters in black military uniform. The implicit ambiguity of most of Oze’s visions undoubtedly reached its peak here. You didn’t have to be a pacifist to spill your White Russian where the guns were calling out so loud. Yet at the same time the interior of NATO’s could have been considered a military version of the same TAZ, and utopia, which is armed enough to resist and defend itself at least6. Or perhaps even able to make an anarchist step forward. The only failure of NATO’s was that it opened at the wrong time and wrong place. Or, if we follow utopian logic, it was exactly the right timing: the lack of proper marketing and the cafe owners’ inability to fill their venue meant the place slowly went downhill and was closed for renovation. An anonymous diner was launched a few months later bearing no mark of its contradictory, but picturesque past. “I treat architecture as an installation,” confessed Oze. Nevertheless, the use of military elements in the interior could lead to the oppo-

In this context the idea of the Private Ideology group becomes clearer. It’s a concept for a group of people sharing similar aesthetics, values and beliefs. One of them is the integrity of one’s life — a mix of transparency and autonomy, resulting in a certain type of recurring Temporary Autonomous Zone, or local tusovka with the same type of shareware psyche and style. This also explains why Oze and Aida most often make art about themselves or their friends. OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS A certain flavour of TAZ reigned in NATO’s cafe in Vilnius in 1996. At that point neither the Radisson SAS or Holiday Inn was knocking at the door. The country had not yet been accepted by the EU and NATO hadn’t rung the bell. Yet there were people with money who wanted to make themselves bigger, and others who wanted to have a good time in an unusual environment close to home. Oze was commissioned to design the interior of a cafe under the catchy homonymic name NATO’s (in a nod to both NATO and the Lithuanian name for musical symbols – a reference to the National Philharmonic where the café was located).

Soon the room was filled with all types of artillery guns and geometric edgy structures, repetitively dividing the space. Not to forget a dissected rocket on the wall in homage to Kazimierz Siemionowicz (ca. 1600 – ca.1651), the Lithuanian-born military engineer and artillery specialist, who published Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima (Great Art of Artillery, the First Part), used in Europe as a basic artillery manual for almost 200 years. 5  Interview with Valdas Ozarinskas by Raimundas Malašauskas, “Innocent Life” exhibition catalogue, CAC Vilnius, 2001.


site conclusion, which has little to do with militarism or TAZ. Since the military gear is an example of the most advanced functionality, 100% utilitarian design with no decorative patterns involved except the Hollywood-style spectacularity of a shot or an explosion, it is the perfect functionality of machine guns and rockets in particular that caught Oze’s attention. 6  In many ways it could be compared to portable military engines and utopian visions of Joep Van Lieshout, the Dutch “designer of things”, who created a utopian community in Rotterdam few years ago (and which will be closed in 2001).


Monolake cushion, 2001

Some people call this the “metal period” of Oze. BE A CUSTOMISER, NOT A CUSTOMER A few months after NATO’s, Full Metal Jacket, another cafe with an austere metal interior and plenty of military gear, designed by Oze opened in Vilnius. Skaidra Trilupaitytė wrote an article about it called “The Orthodox Melancholy of Ozarinskas”. It collapsed even earlier than NATO’s.

Yet there is a place that is ready to accommodate Oze’s vision. Valdas Ozarinskas works as an exhibition designer at the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; an ambitious project of utopian scale itself. Adjusting to the rules of the white cube he must find the shortest routes to connect artist, concept, space and economics. In between that he designs the peripheral spaces of the CAC. The shower curtains of the CAC guest room are made of red plastic. Following the logic of Oze’s ambiguities they both warm you up and make you think of Hitchcock’s Psycho (even if the latter was in black and

memory almost as distinctively as the Coca-Cola logo, amplified by the sterility of white walls. And it’s as dirty cheap as pop-art at its inception. A similar feeling continues in the kitchen where former traffic signs are converted into coffee tables. Customisation is with no doubt a key principle of Oze’s design practice. “Rubber,” he identifies as his favourite material while launching a series of Monolake cushions, designed and named after Berlin’s minimal techno band ( that performed a live concert at the CAC. The cushions are made of the cheapest black rubber. Yet they are rich in function: they can be carried like a suitcase or used as a portable table for a picnic. Or for watching a video. CAN AN ARCHITECT MAKE LOVE TO HIS WIFE IN THE MISSIONARY POSITION? A shorter happy-ending is needed than the one above in this story of collapsed utopias, sampling and customised modules. “Architecture is a past for me,” agrees Oze.

The love of French movies leads him and Aida to combine two different methods of reproduction in one piece: sampling and sexual intercourse. Both operations, however, are pleasure-driven. The slow movements of the back of Oze’s bald head echo his body while Aida looks to the camera from underneath him. The couple not only make love, but replay the episode from “Un homme et une femme“ (1966) by Claude Lelouch, where another couple make love. The composition of the image is sterile and minimalist, but there is nothing except warm black and white human flesh in it. There could be an alternative ending to the text: - What kind of environment do you feel best in? - Fog.7

A photograph for the interior of the bar Full Metal Jacket, 1995

white). Shiny water pipes reflect the metal of kitchen tools. In order to maintain the desired style they were purchased at another part of town to the microwave oven and bathroom towels — no package deals here. Red bed-sheets bearing the CAC logo cover rolling beds and stick in one’s


7  Interview with Valdas Ozarinskas by Renata Šarkauskaitė, Arkitektas, spring 2002


REFERENCES Jurgita Ludavičienė, “Įsisąmoninta daiktų laisvė” (Acknowledging the Freedom of Things) and Rūta Pileckaitė, “‘Išlaisvinti daiktai’ – koncepcija ir siekiai” (“Liberated Things” – Concept and Objectives), published in the magazine “Dailė”, 1998 – pp 3 and 4

Aida Čeponytė, Valdas Ozarinskas, invitation to the event “Rowing”, 1997 – p 36

Antoine De Saint-Exupery, “Wind Sand And Stars”, Reynal and Hitchcock, New York, 1939 – p 4

BA thesis by Jurga Daubaraitė, Vilnius Academy of Arts, 2003 – p 40

A text by Vaidotas Jauniškis published in the cultural weekly “Literatūra ir menas” on 29 November 1996 and quoted in Rolandas Rastauskas, “Bermudų trikampis. Teatrinės istorijos” (Bermuda Triangle: Theatre Stories), Kultūros meniu, Vilnius, 2001 – p 12

Julius Keleras, extract from the exhibition text for “Filters” at Antanas Mončys House-Museum, Palanga, 2014 – p 37

Conversation between Virginija Januškevičūūtė and Valdas Ozarinskas, “The Private Public Space of Valdas Ozarinskas”, published in “CAC Interviu” magazine, 2005 – pp 42 and 43

Aida Čeponytė, Valdas Ozarinskas. Proposal for the Port of Fredericia in Denmark, 2002 – p 13 Virginija Januškevičiūtė, unpublished extract from an interview with Valdas Ozarinskas, 2006 – p 14 Agnė Narušytė, “Architekto mostai” (Architect’s Gestures), published in the cultural weekly “7 meno dienos”, 19 December 2014 – pp 15 and 21 Saulius Paukštys, “Frank Zappa – Lietuvos sūnus” (Frank Zappa – Lithuania’s Son), Kriventa, Vilnius, 2017 – p 15 Jurga Daubaraitė, “Lyčių tvarka ir seksualumo išviešinimas” (Order of Sexes and Exposing Sexuality), published in the cultural weekly “7 meno dienos“, 11 July 2003 – p 16 Renata Šarkauskaitė, unpublished excerpt from an interview with Valdas Ozarinskas, 2002. From the archive of the CAC – pp 16, 17 and 35 Raimundas Malašauskas, “A Waiter of the Restaurant of Vilnius Bahnhof Made the Most Colourful Statement in EXPO 2000”, published in the magazine “NU: The Nordic Art Review”, 2002 – p 17 Conversation between Erika Grigoravičienė and Valdas Ozarinskas, “Plieninis pabučiavimas” (A Steel Kiss), published in the cultural weekly “7 meno dienos”, 14 April 1995 – p 20 Audrys Karalius, “Architektas V.Ozarinskas išėjo” (Architect V.Ozarinskas has Gone), published on the website, 18 December 2014 – p 21 Raimundas Malašauskas, extract from the exhibition text for “Into the Belly of the Dove” at Museo Tamayo, Mexico, 2010 – pp 21 and 35 Andreas Angelidakis, “The Palace of Re-Invention”, in “XII Baltic Triennial. Exhibition Guidebook”, published by the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, 2015 – p 34 “Ozarinsko “filtrų” testas” (Ozarinskas’s “Filters” Test), published in the newspaper “Kauno diena”, 12 December 2014 – p 36




EXHIBITION GUIDE Publisher: Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius

Editor: Virginija Januškevičiūtė

Exhibition curator: Virginija Januškevičiūtė

Graphic design: Aida Čeponytė

Part Four is curated with Jurga Daubaraitė and Jonas Žukauskas

Copy-editing and proof-reading: Gemma Lloyd, Asta Vaičiulytė

Curatorial consultant: Anna Kats

Translators: Aleksandtra Fomina, Virginija Januškevičiūtė, Erika Lastovskytė, Aušra Simanavičiūtė, Aistis Žekevičius

Exhibition architect: Audrius Bučas

Printer: Petro ofsetas, Vilnius

Graphic design: Aida Čeponytė, Vytautas Volbekas


Research assistants: Justina Doš, Julija Fomina, Audrius Pocius, Asta Vaičiulytė Administration assistant: Monika Kalinauskaitė Technical team: Audrius Antanavičius, Almantas Lukoševičius, Viktoras Musteikis, Henrik Šablinskij, Ilona Virzinkevič et al Thanks to Elena Ozarinskaitė, Aida Čeponytė and Tomas Grunskis for the opportunity to make this exhibition, and also to those who loaned work and shared information and insight: Kęstutis Kuizinas, Gintautas Trimakas, Rokas Dovydėnas, Giedrė Genevičiūtė, Loreta Turauskaitė, Gintaras Kuginis, Modestas Šipila, Darius Čiūta, Marina Bučienė, Valentinas Klimašauskas, Raimundas Malašauskas, Konstantinas Bogdanas junior, Saulius Paukštys, Valdas Reikertas, Algimantas Kunčius, Evaldas Jansas, Jörg Schneider, Renata Mikailionytė, Sandra Straukaitė, Gytautė Gineitytė, Mindaugas Masaitis, Dainius Liškevičius, Rolandas Rastauskas, Ūla Tornau, Linas Jablonskis, Dmitrijus Matvejevas, Aurelija Maknytė, Lolita Jablonskienė, Ernestas Parulskis, Saulius Pilinkus, Jonas Žakaitis, Vilius Vilutis, Vidas Šlivinskas (Panevėžio statybos trestas), Vaidas Guogis, Andres Kurg, Toomas Tammis, Evelina Bukauskaitė, Viktoras Kormilcevas, Valdas Babaliauskas (SWECO), and LRT, Information Centre of the National Gallery of Art and the Track and Field Stadium of Vilnius. An Architect Without Architecture? was organised in collaboration with the Valdas Ozarinskas Foundation, which oversees the artist’s legacy and collects related information. All new research undertaken in the making of this exhibition has been donated to the Valdas Ozarinskas Foundation.

Supported by the Lithuanian Council for Culture.

p 2: “Introduction”, Virginija Januškevičiūtė, 2018 p 6: “Architecture by Other Means”, Anna Kats, 2018 pp 12–17: “Oze Pax”, “Scripts for Public Spaces”, Interiors”, all Virginija Januškevičiūtė, 2018 p 18: “Techno Translations”, Jurga Daubaraitė, Jonas Žukauskas, Virginija Januškevičiūtė, 2018 
p 20: “Art Actions: Fight Club”, Virginija Januškevičiūtė, 2018 p 22: “The Steel Kiss”, conversation between Erika Grigoravičienė and Valdas Ozarinskas, first published in Lithuanian for the cultural weekly “7 meno dienos” on 14 April 1995 p 28: “Valdas Ozarinskas on the Shrink’s Couch”, Valentinas Klimašauskas, first published in Lithuanian for the cultural weekly “Literatūra ir menas” on 9 February 2007 p 31: “The Invitation by Rojaus Tūzai for Everyone to ‘Squeeze’ into a CD”, Rasa Karaliūtė, first published in Lithuanian in the newspaper “Neliūdėk!” in 1996 pp 34–43: “Exhibition Design”, “Darkness, Cinema”, “The Cloakroom”, “The Downstairs Foyer”, all Virginija Januškevičiūtė, 2018 p 44: “A Waiter of the Restaurant of Vilnius Bahnhof Made the Most Colourful Statement in EXPO 2000” by Raimundas Malašauskas, first published in the magazine “NU: The Nordic Art Review”, 2002

Inside back cover: “Glossary. ABC–Avant-garde: 1999” by Raimundas Malašauskas, first published in the Contemporary Art Centre’s exhibition catalogue “Lithuanian Art 1989–1999: Ten Years” in 1999 Cover image: test print for the installation “Fixation of One Month” by Valdas Ozarinskas, 1994 This publication contains photographs and architectural renderings from the personal archives of Valdas Ozarinskas, Audrius Bučas, Saulius Paukštys and Gintautas Trimakas, as well as from the archives of the Contemporary Art Centre and the Information Centre of the National Gallery of Art. The photographs and architectural renderings are by: Audrius Bučas (pp 14 and 39), Aida Čeponytė (p 13), Virginija Januškevičiūtė (p 35), Dimitrijus Matvejevas (pp 8 and 41), Remigijus Pačėsa (p 12), Personal Ideology (p 7), Valdas Račyla (p 17), Gintautas Trimakas (pp 6, 20, 45, 48 and 51). Photographs on pages 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 34, 37, 40, 46 and 52 are from the personal archive of Valdas Ozarinskas, and pages 10, 38, 42 and 43 are from the archive of the CAC.


“An act today is a necessary substitute for a discredited work of art, or, more precisely, an alternative, as an act should not replace the work of art and the system of aesthetic categories in this way inheriting its connotations. It should under no circumstances not need to be allocated a place in the aesthetic category system, for this is a more general concept (political, social, sexual, civil, military, etc. act), which can be placed among several systems. An act, unlike a work, does not indicate substance, invariability, meaning; it signifies action, deed, confrontation, a fleeting or continuous statement. It indicates a relation, but not an essence. It is an act of stating, expecting no utterance. An act may be specified as a situation, pretext, action, creation of circumstance, event, doubt. The artist who follows this strategy, does not create but provokes, offers, intervenes, comments, identifies, infiltrates, initiates, etc.”1 That, which in Lithuania is given the term social plastic, usually takes place in the form of an act (continuous or momentary). Raimundas Malašauskas, 1999

Every effort has been made to trace the authors of the work published herein and we apologise for any inadvertent errors or omissions. If notified, we will endeavour to correct these at the earliest opportunity. Edition of 500 The guidebook is also available in Lithuanian. © Artists, writers, Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius, 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher. ISBN 978-9986-957-81-2

Contemporary Art Centre Vokiečių str. 2, Vilnius

1  Raimundas Malašauskas, “80–117”, Mare Articum No. 1, 1997

ISBN 978-9986-957-80-5

Profile for Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius

An Architect Without Architecture? A Retrospective of Valdas Ozarinskas. Exhibition guide