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KAUNAS FULL OF CULTURE

Clubbers

2020 JANUARY Illustration by Ettoja

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Baking medieval bread is a thing! Members of historical reconstruction club Saltus Gladiī told us more about their medieval rituals in this issue. Photo by Indrė Kvietkauskienė.

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If you are under thirty, you might associate the word club with, for example, Lizdas nightclub, which operates under M. Žilinskas Art Gallery. However, we will not really touch upon Kaunas’ nightlife in this issue. Well, to be clear, you will find one of Lizdas’ family members in the photo story rubric with a few parties traditionally squeezed in the calendar.

To the club But a club is not necessarily a specific place or building with a neon sign and loud music. Even the fans of the electronic rhythm will agree that a club is, first and foremost, people. And there are quite a few things that may unite them. Sometimes it is the latest music, sometimes a very old one with impossible to find sheet music not to mention the non-existent recordings. Sometimes it’s a hypnotic dance of an orange ball on the floor that draws you in for decades, whether your team wins or loses. If you haven’t read yet, find the 2018 issue of Kaunas Full of Culture – no one can speak so nicely about Žalgiris as a journalist among journalists, Vidas Mačiulis.

Clubs have already been around in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire - similar interests have united people living in denser, larger cities since time immemorial. And it isn’t necessarily an escape from daily routine or boredom at home. In fact, there are spouses among the heroes of this issue. There is also a story about the magical three nines – yes, one special society will be celebrating its 90th anniversary on January 27, and another one has recently celebrated its 35th. One more story’s characters are united by profession, and it is certainly not the only one. If you can’t find a hobby you like, perhaps you will feel intrigued by the clubbers’ stories and will start the year 2020 on a more exciting note? That is what we wish you!

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It is common to wear a T-shirt of your favourite club or the one that you are a member of – at home and at work, in gatherings and matches. And let’s not forget the badges, caps, car scents. There are many ways to express your affiliation with something but only one of them is eternal – with ink to the skin. Of course, modern technology makes it possible to get rid of anything but what a horrible thing should happen for you to do so? Even nine consecutive defeats are no reason to quit club membership. And by the way – not only sports inspire tattoos.

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Donatas Stankevičius and Gunars Bakšejevs

Šarūnas The DJ got his tattoo “overlooking St. Michael the Archangel Church” in February 2018. “I wanted to immortalize this phase of my life – I work in Lizdas club. The stars signify the night and its magic. I live freely, like this girl.”

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Mikas The legendary cat from Kaunas streets has only been on Mikas’ arm for less than a year. The reason is very simple, “I don’t want to brag, but I’m from Kaunas.”girtis, bet aš iš Kauno.“

Kotryna “There is nothing to be proud of, but I have made my greatest musical discoveries with the help of this file-sharing program called Soulseek. I stopped using it and pirating, in general, a long time ago but the logo has stuck with me and causes nostalgia in others too.” Dima Dima is a fan of animation. A serious one. This piglet is from a mystical cartoon Gravity Falls.

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An old Žalgiris fan had long dreamed of a tattoo that proves his love for the team but only got it made last summer together with his godson. The tattoos are identical!

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When you don’t just love the brand but rather what it symbolizes then, the Harley Davidson inscription is not enough – you need a whole engine.

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Robertas It’s no secret that feelings can sometimes intensify when you have to separate against your will. That is what happened to Robertas and Žalgiris but he got inspired by emigration.

Eva Eva has captured the love for Japanese comics – manga – on her body. More specifically Ban, Fox’s Sin of Greed from the Seven Deadly Sins’ series.

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Very few organizations in Kaunas can boast about old traditions dating back to the interwar period; however, XXVII Book Lovers Society’s (XXVII knygos mėgėjų draugija) history started in 1930 and continues to this day. Both back then and now, this society unites people who cannot imagine their lives without exclusive books and other unique publications. We met Dalia Poškienė, the current chairwoman of XXVII Book Lovers Society at Vidmantas Staniulis’ (the biggest Lithuanian bibliophile, according to the interviewee) antiquarian bookshop located in the building designed by Jokūbas Peras and built on Vytautas Avenue during the interwar period and beloved by Kaunas residents. In an environment particularly suited to this conversation – surrounded by books – Dalia Poškienė told us about the history of the society, its activities, the circumstances behind the emergence of the unusual title, bibliophilia and her personal connection to books.

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We need someone to defend the books Justė Vyšniauskaitė Photos by Arvydas Čiukšys

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On what basis was the XXVII Book Lovers Society established in 1930 and what did its members do? It was a very exciting time. Marija Mašiotaitė-Urbšienė, helping her husband, lived and worked in Paris. While working in the library, she came across a very interesting document – the statutes of French bibliophiles. Urbšiai loved books, therefore, upon their return to Lithuania they shared the information with the country’s prominent people at the time – officer Vytautas Steponaitis, officer and journalist Petras Jakštas and museologist Paulius Galaunė. From Society’s archives, which are kept in the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (now Vrublevskiai) – the first and second chronicles of XXVII Book Lovers Society – we know who founded it and prepared its first statute. On November 30, 1930, the minister approved the prepared documents and the regulative order, and this exclusive society was born. On November 30, 1930, the minister approved the prepared documents and the regulative order, and this exclusive society was born. The Society consisted of canon Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas, Vladas Daumantas (Dzimidavičius), Mykolas Biržiška, Petras Klimas, Kazys Bizauskas, Jurgis Šaulys, and others. It is interesting that the Society traditionally gathered in Vaižgantas’ apartment or the homes of other members or the Kaunas Garrison Officers’ Club. The members of the Society collected and preserved their personal libraries, and today the bookcase of Paulius Galaunė and Vytautas Kazimieras Jonynas, reminiscent of this activity, and the library of the pre-war Society, is guarded at the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum. In addition, until 1940 the soci-

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ety published and illustrated books and published two chronicles. Books published by the society have been awarded a gold medal and a grand prize at the Paris Modern Art Exhibition. Later, the members of the society had very different destinies, a particularly difficult time, but they laid the foundations of bibliophilia in Lithuania for all those “infected with this disease.” Why was this specific name chosen for the society? Why is the number twenty-seven important? When it was formed, it was decided that the society will only have twenty-seven members. For example, it is believed that the society should have had one woman, one priest, and one Jewish person. And if we talk about the number twenty-seven specifically, in Lithuania it is associated with the symbolic herbal tea Three Nines (Trejos devynerios). (Three Nines was a very popular therapeutic extract in the interwar Kaunas, and three times nine is twenty-seven). What makes a bibliophilic book stand out? How is bibliophilia different from a simple book club? In book history and culture, the word bibliophilia emerged in the 19th century. While in book clubs people introduce, read and rate new publications or communicate with the authors, bibliophiles look at the book according to slightly different criteria: its distribution, rarity, the tradition of collecting. The bibliophile collection says a lot about the owner of the books – some want to collect rare publications, some are interested in books with artistic bindings, others are interested in miniature or autographed books, as


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well as themed publications. Bibliophilia is not just a simple collecting. A book, in this case, is important not only for its content but also for its specific publishing features and circumstances. For example, the chronicles and other publications of our society can be called bibliophilic books. Each has its own nominal record, a certain numbering of copies, and is printed on different paper. The first two chronicles of the original edition had become bibliographic rarities, with only a few known surviving copies.

A book was, is, and will be the light of culture.

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What inspired your interest in bibliophilia?

mind me of meetings with various authors, including the Lithuanian exile writers who had visited Kaunas. Another important collection for me consists of historical and art publications. I also value poetry books.

My whole life has been about books and their creators. Fate led me to run Central Kaunas City and County Trade Union’s library, which had forty-two branches. At the time, the former Trade Union Chamber housed the Collector’s Club that included philatelists, second-hand booksellers, and other collectors. I remember bibliophiles Artūras Šablauskas, Julius Tamošiūnas, Alfredas Smailys, priest Richard Mikutavičius and other bookworms. Kęstutis Morkūnas, Vidmantas Staniulis, and Ričardas Venckus, among others, were members of the group that wanted to restore the Society. After getting to know these people, I felt a greater interest in rare books and their history. Since then I started respecting people who do not view books like regular consumers, and meetings with these book lovers have also piqued my interest in bibliophilia. Which books in your personal collection are most precious to you? Autographed books occupy a special place in my home library. They re-

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Was the re-establishment of the society a long-planned idea or did it happen unexpectedly? The idea was long nurtured by the patriarch of the society, initiator of restoration and former member Vidmantas Staniulis. He was joined by other book lovers and like-minded people. It started with an exhibition Sua fata habent libelli (According to the capabilities of the reader, books have their destiny) organized at the library, which told the story of how books where being thrown out and destroyed even from the large libraries. Bibliophiles know what secrets and traces lie in various publications. For example, an envelope with a seal or a stamp can say a lot about the specific period of time, the artist, the event, but you need to be able to recognize it and preserve it. Then came the idea that someone needed to defend books and other publications. Thus, on June 27, 1993, new documents were prepared and


How would you say the activities of the society changed if we compared the interwar period with the present? The restored society continues the traditions of the pre-war society, but in the context of changing values, it has acquired a wider scope. Since 1993, we have had booksellers, artists, journalists, historians, collectors, librarians and publishers at the society. We also started organizing competitions for the best-prepared and published bibliophilic publication and international ex-libris competition. Since 1994 the society has been organizing Book festival dedicated to the Press Recovery, Language and Book Day. It has been taking place every year for 25 years on May 7. Book festival has become an international event called Time Lives in Books. It contains contests, unique exhibitions of collections, conferences, commemorations. For this year’s anniversary festival, we have published a special Book festival publication Time Lives in Books, which features the prewar and restored society’s members’ ex-libris and the chronicle of celebrations. We organize memorial events for the interwar period members of the Society and exhibitions and lectures of current members in Lithuania and abroad. We focus on giving a sense to the work done by libraries. Also, the pre-war society was more concentrated in Kaunas, and now our members are from Marijampolė, Vilnius, Kaunas, St. Petersburg and Poland. Does the society have specific traditions, possibly dating back to the interwar period?

We still follow the same set of rules as in the pre-war times and continue publishing XXVII Book Lovers Society’s chronicles (six volumes have now been published). Also, not even a single general meeting, taking place on January 27, was missed throughout the 26 years. This meeting is mandatory for each member and we also try to organize other events on the 27th. The structure of the Society remained the same: the number of members is still twenty-seven. The following year, the society will celebrate its 90th anniversary and will commemorate the 27th year of the restored society. Are you preparing something special for this symbolic year? 2020 is a significant year for the society and its members. It was also announced as the year of one of the most prominent Lithuanian artists as well as the co-founder of the society – Paulius Galaunė. The first jubilee event of the series will take place on the 27th of January at the National M. Mažvydas Library. Several projects have already been prepared and Book festival and publications are under preparation. We will remember the prominent book lovers and will pay tribute to the members of the restored society who had passed away: Romualdas Ozolas, Justinas Marcinkevičius, Henrikas Kebeikis, and others, who had left a big mark on the history of the book and its creators. This is a truly symbolic number for the restored society, which was headed by Vytautas Raudeliūnas, Albinas Vaičiūnas, Beatričė Kleizaitė-Vasaris, and Birutė Butkevičienė. We believe that a book was, is, and will be the light of culture and people who create and preserve it will not get tired on their watch.

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the XXVII Book Lovers Society was restored in Kaunas (the constituent meeting was held at Kaunas County Public Library).

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Saltus Gladiī means “a dancing sword.” The founders of this club, Rasa and Deividas Kasperai represent both parts of its name. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Deividas is plowing his way through life with a sword and Rasa doesn’t do anything but dance. Everything is much more interesting and also much simpler than it might seem when you hear the term “historical reconstruction”. In November, one of the oldest buildings in Kaunas – House of Perkūnas – hosted the first festival of Living history. We met Rasa, Deividas and their colleague Eglė Kukytė, who works in the House of Perkūnas as an educator, nearby, at the Town Hall Square after the lighting of the Christmas tree, which, by the way, was never there in Kaunas neither in the middle ages nor even during the interwar period. But we will talk about what could have been and why is it relevant in the 21st century.

“We are not a theater” Kotryna Lingienė

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Bringing history to life in the Perkūnas house. Photo by Indrė Kvietkauskienė.

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How did this club start?

How many regular members do you have?

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Rasa Kasperienė: The very beginning was that my husband and I tried out a historical reconstruction – we joined another club. After some time, that club decided to go commercial, and we didn’t want to. For us, it is a hobby. After leaving the club we continued to visit the festivals, just the two of us. Then people started joining us and since 2013 we are a club. The thing is that “random” people are not invited to big events. Everyone has to do something – crafts, trade, showcasing.

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Eglė Kukytė: About six active ones and perhaps up to fifteen members who go to festivals, dance.

these dances are not medieval. The first notes of dance steps appeared at the end of the 15th century, i.e. in the renaissance era. We only know that they were danced from works, books, chronicles. So, we cannot be completely sure how authentically medieval they are. Therefore, now we call them “historical dances.” And when did reconstruction begin to gain popularity in Lithuania and the world? R. K.: We have a member of our club who is writing a dissertation on historical reconstruction clubs in Lithuania. As she told me, TV shows and movies had a global impact. But Eglė was also interested in the subject.

Why medieval dances? Why not tango or swing?

E. K.: And I have a slightly different conclusion. First of all, historical reconstruction formed as an educational activity in museums in the early 20th century in Scandinavia and then spread across Europe. It didn’t catch on there but became popular in the US. When people saw how this activity was developing in the US, they brought it back to Europe. Only around the mid-20th century, individual people began to engage in historical reconstruction. A particularly popular theme was the Napoleonic period. Gradually clubs started to appear. Of course, TV did have an impact; I would say it speeded up the process and the internet – even more so.

R. K.: Let’s not focus on dancing, it’s just the most prominent activity of ours. When you reconstruct something, it doesn’t matter how many books you will read or whatever you do, you will not achieve the desired result without material things. So, first and foremost – the costume. And then it goes – lifestyle, dishes... We shouldn’t lie to the readers;

D. K.: I will only add – reconstruction actually existed since Ancient Greece. When they were doing theater, history – they would reproduce the image. Of course, these were recreational reconstructions, perhaps less accurate. This is how things were until the 20th century when hobbies became commonplace. In the past, it was only the

Does one need to bring a partner if they wish to become a member of your club? Deividas Kasperas: In the previous club where we used to dance, they wanted people to be paired because there were many dances for two. There were also a lot of men and in our club, it so happened that we didn’t have men, and if we would get one, he would dance a bit and then find a girlfriend and leave. So, it is the girls that are dancing.

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nobility that could afford to have a hobby. What kind of people gather at your club? Perhaps there is a common feature? E. K.: We have no historians! Well, me and Rasa, we are ethnologists. R. K.: Actually, they are very different. From information engineers to people from Humanities. My husband, for example, is a businessman. D. K.: It’s something that has been bugging me! But on a more serious note, my wife really wanted to get into the reconstruction circle because they had dances and pretty dresses – all of which attracted her. The issue was that they didn’t want to accept her on her own because as I mentioned, we had to dance in twos. Although they didn’t want to accept her with me either... We did folk dancing for some time, even though I found it funny and then the leader of the club changed and then we were accepted. My wife is happy and I hated dancing my whole life. R. K.: And now he teaches others! And they say he is a very good teacher. D. K.: Well, people change. Quite recently the House of Perkūnas hosted the Living history festival. How did you come up with it? R. K.: We talked to Eglė that it would be nice to organize something like that. We have many examples in the world: Polish, French – they have a lot of medieval heritage. For example, a club is set up in a manor or castle, and events are held regularly. We felt like doing it too.

It is true that the bureaucratic apparatus is completely unsuited for reconstruction and cooperation. Therefore, it was easier for us to do things in the House of Perkūnas because it doesn’t belong to the City Museum or other larger institution – here, people have a more flexible approach to things and we mostly care about quality. D. K.: There is no system, no funding, so only those who do not require much funding and have accumulated a large inventory can organize such events. E. K.: There are no such things in Lithuania, well, there weren’t until now. Sure, there have been attempts, but when you try to do things in the cheapest way possible, you get kitsch. We invested in the event ourselves but we tried to make everything as authentic as possible. R. K.: For example, we are asked how are we different from other historical clubs? I always start with the fact that we are not a theater. All of our costumes are reproduced to the finest detail – if it’s silk, then it will be silk if we need jewelry than we buy them from artisans who recreate them according to the paintings. If it’s the footwear then it has a leather sole. And when it comes to dancing – we don’t stretch our legs like in the ballet because it didn’t exist, ballet came much later. And the sources don’t mention these things about the period we are discussing. It is written that a person must look elevated, they shouldn’t lower their eyes and should float close to the ground. No arm lifting! One must be comfortable.

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Photo by Arvydas Čiukšys

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France, England or Poland. Not to mention that the Lithuanian we speak today did not exist back then! Therefore, we rely on foreign literature.

R. K.: I say to the collective before shows – you don’t have to put on makeup but you must put some lipstick. It is important for the smile to show. But yes, the makeup did exist. I have recreated the lipstick recipe myself; it is very easy: lard, wax and iron oxide for red color. You mix it, boil it, pour it in a jar and you have a lipstick after it cools down. Powder also existed back then.

R. K.: There are sources, iconographic material, but they are not as easily accessible for history buffs like us.

E. K.: Looking at the pictures it seems like there were no eyebrows at the time. Of course, we do not go overboard, we don’t shave them but we don’t exaggerate them either. How important is food in your activities? Was it possible to truly feast during the living history weekend?

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You mentioned theater and while coming to meet you I was thinking – what about makeup? Are there any secrets to medieval makeup?

D. K.: It’s hard to put it in a few words! For that weekend I baked beer bread, made a stew – there were no soups at the time. The stew is very simple and is prepared on the fire from various grits, beans, cabbage, different types of meat. It’s the specialty of those times: beef, chicken, and pork in the same pot. I got everything from books. R. K.: I try to bring books that focus on medieval kitchen or costumes from abroad. We already have quite a collection at home. It is popular abroad and buying such books is easy. D. K.: But let’s not forget that it’s regional. People like to ask – did we have the same things in Lithuania? Our ancestors did not leave as much written material as is available in

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D. K.: And it’s not our job to analyze the sources. We recreate the history from the material that was discovered and analyzed by others. Using the literature of other countries, we take into consideration how things could have been in Lithuania. Let’s say the armor was fifty years behind in comparison to the West but that does not mean that dukes, rich people or those who traveled more were unable to have a really modern one. R. K.: Or, for example, the dances described by the renaissance choreographer Domenico da Piacenza. People were doing these dances in the mid-15th century in Italy and they were brought to Lithuania by Bona Sforza, and we know that for sure. These are the small things that we use to construct our Lithuanian painting. How do you find the Hanseatic Days in Kaunas, which, are increasingly making way for the contemporary birthday party of the city? R. K.: From a reconstruction standpoint, it is a dying event, and not many of us want to participate in it. You cannot organize a medieval feast or do crafts there – wrong place, wrong circumstances. D. K.: It is also connected to funding. In the past, when it was bigger, the medieval part of it was larger, you were able to invite more guests


from abroad. The circle was wider and therefore more realistic and more interesting to the reconstructionists. R. K.: That’s why we go to the festivals abroad. For me, the best ones are in Poland. For example, Days of Grunwald. D. K.: 3-5,000 people gather in Poland, with around a thousand people in the tent city alone. And everyone comes to participate, to live as the travelers of those times supposedly lived. After all, a common man didn’t live in a tent. We would like to travel more, for example to England, to Gotland Island. How long does it take to prepare, say, a well-off burgher’s costume? R. K.: Oh, I have been making one for my husband for two years already. It doesn’t only depend on inspiration – you must plan it, order silk from India, strings. So, the process is quite lengthy. And is it expensive? R. K.: The costume for a show can get really expensive. If you place an order at the tailor, the artisans, you will need at least five meters of silk alone. In Lithuania, the price starts from about 150 Euro per meter. We get if for 20 Euros and velvet can be found in the second-hand stores. It is more expensive if someone else has to make it. But sometimes on Sundays, we organize the sewing days. Eglė, who is very knowledgeable in this craft, helps people to cut and provides various tips. How many have?

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D. K.: Here, these two are costume champions. My wife has over thirty. E. K.: Well, when you start, you can’t stop, every year you want a new, more

luxurious one. Some events, like Grunwald, are actually fashion shows. But we don’t bring fancy ones to Grunwald because we don’t perform our dances there. Camping clothing is much simpler. You can’t walk in hay dressed in silk. Do you assume a different role during your shows, where you are no longer the people from the 21st century? R. K.: Some of us – I at least – are constantly in some epoch. Not only when we’re on the stage. It depends on the book you are reading or the costume you are sewing. Eglė, by the way, reconstructs clothing from other epochs too – renaissance, Napoleonic and now also the end of the 19th century. D. K.: I do not turn into a medieval person on stage but yes, I get into the role, I try to do the dance well, I am more manneristic then – that’s what the dancer needs to do. R. K.: But it does have an impact on the household. You gain a different perspective – if you’re buying curtains or a couch, you start analyzing the fabric. The same thing happens when choosing a painting. I rather spend more money on a medieval reproduction than hang a contemporary artwork on my wall. And then tiles – what pattern should we make? Perhaps a historical one? D. K.: If I go to such festivals like Grunwald where everyone lives as if in medieval times ... I get into it very much. I make a bonfire, dig a hole for the fridge. Although I probably wash more often than the people of that time. The more you get involved, the more you can invest. For example, armor costs around 2-3000 Eur. Have you ever learned any moral lessons from the researched period?

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Photo by Arvydas Čiukšys

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E. K.: You simply feel naked. D. K.: In those days, the white shirt was considered an undergarment. People even wash with it. Indeed, no one would see naked women wandering around. You mentioned that rehearsals take place at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). What is your connection with this university? R. K.: KTU has hosted us, provided us with premises. We are honored to be called a KTU club. We are not a profit-seeking collective; we invest our money into our activities. It would be really expensive to pay rent for the hall. Several members were students at KTU so, that’s how it went. The university only made sure that other students could come and that only made us happy. How do your meetings go? R. K.: When we give interviews or talk about our activities, people think that it is all very difficult. I would like to emphasize that you do not really need to be a historian – there are girls who openly say that they hate history and they only come here to dance. It’s just a different hobby. A sport of sorts. And yes, a sport because we train twice a week. The warm-up lasts for half an hour and only then we dance. And certainly, not all historical dances are slow. In general, not everything is about dance too – some join because they are interested in sewing, others in food, battles, crafts... (Photographer’s question) And what about the music for dancing – is it performed live?

R. K.: It is actually interesting that some sources only contain sheet music, the dance steps are not recorded or haven’t survived. In the villages, people danced to the sung music with perhaps only one instrument accompanying the singing – more of that came in the renaissance. Foreign artists reproduce those works, there are historical music collectives. We are cooperating with one of them – Ambera. We also perform with them. Spotify also started suggesting some recordings. While listening I select what would suit this or that dance. Are there any foreigners in the club? Choir: No. But some must have dropped by during the Living history days? E. K.: Yes, yes. In general, the House of Perkūnas is mostly visited by foreign tourists. Does Kaunas have the potential to really become a Hanseatic city as a tourist attraction? R. K.: It all depends on the attitude, investment and public relations. We are not the only reconstructionists in Kaunas who had picked up the “medieval fever.” The potential is still untapped. D. K.: Our Old Town, albeit small, is truly medieval. The chaotic street network is a feature of the middle ages. Only a very few old buildings remain – most were demolished or rebuilt. There are more cellars though. We are proud of the House of Perkūnas but isn’t it funny? It’s just one house. From this perspective, a tourist interested in the middle ages might not find this very intriguing. After all, architecture is the foundation of experience, followed by restaurants and everything else.

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R. K.: The women who are “well-experienced” will never leave the tent with white shirt alone.

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„“Hello, fantasy buffs,” Rolandas Maskoliūnas would call people to gather in front of the TV back in the day. Videokaukas show was particularly relevant in the pre-Internet era when sci-fi or fantasy works – be it literature or film – were not that easily accessible. Back then, clubs of fantasy enthusiasts established in various cities were flourishing. This in no way means that nothing is happening in this area right now. Well, in all honesty, the theme of the 30th fantasy buffs’ gathering Lituanicon, which took place in Vilnius, in April 2019, was End of an Era. This spring, we’ll find out what’s next. For now, I am getting acquainted with the things that are happening in Kaunas – on Tuesday I am going to the cluster of IT companies – Blaster. The members of the Phoenix are already gathering on the first floor of the building located on Savanorių Avenue; they are pushing tables around, looking at their notes, and preparing snacks – soon they will start playing.

To wander along the untrodden paths Gunars Bakšejevs Photos by Ellijus Kniežauskas

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What is Phoenix? “People in Vilnius sometimes joke that our club’s history is in line with the name – we rise over and over again,” Aivaras, the old-timer of the club, told the photographer and me while taking us to the club’s closet, which contains the book collection from the well-known sci-fi publishing house Eridanas, Phoenix’s flag, swords, shields, and other fantastic stuff. Kaunas fantasy and sci-fi buffs’ club Phoenix turned 35 last October, which is more years than most current active club members have. Gedas joins Aivaras in telling us about the sci-fi and fantasy world and its embassy in Kaunas. Both joined the club – which had risen from the ashes once again and had found new premises – at a similar time, after finding information on the Internet in the (still) very lively forums of fantastika.lt (by the way, they are still there, it is interesting to see how people would interact when there was no Facebook). Aivaras came with his computer science teacher. They started talking about sci-fi when the teacher claimed that modern students no longer read books. “I read books published by Eridanas!” exclaimed the future member of the club. How to join? Anyone can join the club at any time, as long as he or she is interested in fantasy or sci-fi. The initiation of new club members takes place once a year, during the birthday of Phoenix club. Recently the celebration has been taking place in PuntoJazz on Kęstutis Street. Club members say that the initiation is probably the biggest entertainment now. During the event, the newcomers have to gather recommendations from the old-timers, answer various sci-fi-related questions. After answering successfully, they read The Oath of the Phoenix, 2 8

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which was also read by the founder of Blaster cluster, head of TeleSoftas and a patron of various curiosities (including the new sci-fi and popular culture magazine Protagonistas – which I recommend) Algirdas Stonys. Here’s an excerpt from the oath. ... To wander along the untrodden paths, fight the demons themselves, when others will lack courage, to never run from the fight ... And even if you haven’t read The Lord of the Rings, you still have a chance – that’s what the help from the audience is for. If you don’t want to wait for the 36th birthday, you can simply come by any Tuesday. “Just message me on Facebook, so I can let you in,” Aivaras laughs. He promises to teach anyone willing but admits that it wouldn’t be great to have too many newcomers. “Then the squad expands, it isn’t as fun to play anymore, and there isn’t always a person to lead the game.” Who are the players? The stereotype is that only computer scientists, physicists and people from exact sciences, in general, are interested in sci-fi and fantasy. There are many of them, but there are also philosophers, economists. By the way, not only men are interested in fantasy or sci-fi. Finding a better half while playing is quite possible, as well as bringing your partner along. How to play? That will be dictated by the rules of the game and its master. You can play, that is, interactively create a story, just a few evenings or for a day if you visit the RPG fiesta organized twice a year, and you can also do that all year round, every Tuesday. “I kill my campaigns after a year –


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it gets tiring when you’re a master,” Aivaras says. Recently, one of his long games started after an accident in the burned-down theatre at professor Frankenstein’s and ended in the distant future, flying in space. In general, the most popular genre is fantasy, and one of the most common systems is Dungeons & Dragons, essentially the pioneer of modern board games. Literally, there is a band of heroes going on an adventure. The heroes kill monsters. It is played by six people in one team.

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Some of the people in Kaunas that we met on Tuesday play Houses of the Blooded, “We play for nobles, there are intrigues, we have lands, castles, we do business with each other and use peasants as a resource.” Do you get a chance for a breath of fresh air? Of course. Summer LARPs – live-action role-play – are planned well in advance and not only Lithuanians participate in them. Sometimes Latvians organize it in Lithuania. Now the Phoenix club members are looking forward to the upcoming July because over a hundred people are planning to gather in the firing ground Aurora located in Trakai district where a LARP based on H. P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Ctulhu (published in 1928 for the first time) will take place. By the way, the history of the Aurora firing ground is extraordinary. Once it belonged to a member of Vilnius sci-fi buffs’ collective. The club built a tiny town there, where the games would take place. Later on, the owner of the land left Lithuania and sold the property to a person who had no clue about the “heritage.” While exploring his new estate, he discovered an abandoned building com-

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plex... After googling, he found out about this community and became its active member. Some summer meetings are so popular that the public information about them needs to be limited. This does not necessarily mean that the number of fantasy or sci-fi enthusiasts is increasing. Friends of friends simply like the idea of having a week-long party in nature. Is it expensive to be a sci-fi and fantasy fan? Like with all other hobbies – it can cost nothing or cost a lot. As you may have understood from the previous paragraph, you might have to buy some land. And on a more serious note, LARPing requires costumes and their cost depends on your imagination. The membership in Phoenix is not paid, only some time ago we would all pitch in to pay for the rent of the premises. There is an interesting story about how the first gamebooks reached Lithuania. Shortly after the restoration of independence, our sci-fi and fantasy buffs were visiting a meeting of like-minded people in the Netherlands and brought ... photocopied books as souvenirs. Before the books, people also did what they could – projectors were being “borrowed” from university auditoriums for Phoenix film screenings, and so on. Well, the traditions were determined by frugality. When foreigners usually play according to writers’ publicly traded scenarios, Lithuanians tend to use their own imagination. That’s because, in the past, Lithuanians were a bit stingy and also not everyone could afford to spend 20 dollars on a script. Although, as Phoenix members admit, we are now catching up with the West in this regard.


Play, of course. Although both of our guides insist that there is no rule that board game fanatics also play computer games. Or, you can read. You can start with Lord of the Rings or even Hobbit. Or perhaps with H. P. Lovecraft. Phoenix members also suggest the Eridanas’ classics, for example, Harry Harrison’s The Stainless-Steel Rat series. “I didn’t like the latest part anymore, but at fourteen it was fun,” Aivaras says. Gedas adds Jack L. Chalker’s Midnight at the Well of Souls, which was published by Eridanas in Lithuanian in 1997, “It is a difficult book. I only understood it after reading it the second time.” Another piece from the list of recommended literature is Bujold Lois McMaster’s The Warrior’s Apprentice, “It is a lighter sci-fi book. Some people dislike it because it contains a character who constantly succeeds.” Aivaras is currently reading Brandon Sanderson. Most recently the second installment of his science fiction series Starsight was published. Previously the author wrote in the fantasy genre; he is known for his Mistborn series. “This new

book is about the distant future. In short: how people are doing things in space.” By the way, Gintautas K. Ivanickas, a member of the older generation of Phoenix club, has also recently published a fantasy book Tamsa ryja Tamsą – the first book of the Umbra chronicles. “It is a story about the world like ours, the way it was in the 17th-18th century. It is similar, and at the same time completely different,” the annotation reads. And what about films? Well, that’s a topic that requires a separate article, in which we will not find one truth. No doubt there are many more people who love sci-fi or fantasy in film rather than in books. After we completed our interview, we exchanged some messages with Aivaras. He was delighted that Netflix had just released a series based on the cult novel Witcher written by Andrzej Sapkowski. Several years ago, a very popular computer game about the same witcher was released. Before that, the Polish writer had visited LituaniCon. “Well, I can also recommend Stranger Things. The kids there are playing Dungeons & Dragons and solve different issues based on the skills they learned in the game.”

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What to do on the days that are not Tuesdays?

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Community from the bottom

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The construction of Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant (named after a former head of state Algirdas Brazauskas in 2014) was completed in 1959, and the valley got submerged under the dammed up Nemunas River. People who lived there, the school, church, 35 villages, and 721 homesteads were evacuated and settled “on the hill”, more precisely, in various localities in Kaunas and its periphery, around the widely stretched Kaunas Lagoon.

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Julija Račiūnaitė Photo by Donatas Stankevičius

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How were people being evacuated from the bottom of the future lagoon?

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The inhabitants of the valley, although having faced a geographical challenge, did not lose their sense of community. It is very actively and creatively supported by Samylai Cultural Center of Kaunas district, which had founded Dugniečiai (people of the bottom) Club that organizes a well-known annual event Footprints on the Bottom of the Lagoon (Pėdos marių dugne). It has also become a part of Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 program and carries out various educational and cultural activities designed to bring Dugniečiai together and tell their story to everyone else. So, don’t be surprised if, when asked about the native’s origins in Samylai, you will hear a humble answer, “I am from the bottom.”

Jolanta Sidabrienė (Head of Samylai Cultural Center): People were very reluctant to move. The residents remember that one older man refused to leave so, a crane came at night and simply moved the bouse with the grandpa to another place. To avoid problems with shipping and other things, everything was levelled with the ground: trees were cut, houses demolished, wells filled, and the church moved to Rumšiškės. The water was rising for a long time – for nine months – and also with ebbs, so for a while, there were sceptics who did not believe that the lagoon will ever appear. People watched the rise of the water intently, taking pictures standing on the last unflooded protrusions, for example, on the last patch of land on Mildažiai homestead in Laumėnai. Angelė Samuolaitienė (an elderly former resident of Kaunas Lagoon

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valley who came to the interview with her husband Antanas Samuolaitis): I was born in the village of Šilėnai, and I was nine when we moved “up the hill.” If the family had a house, a homestead or some land, the government compensated for the eviction, would give some money. But we didn’t have anything, only a small barn for one animal. The house we lived in was not our property, so we didn’t get any compensation. When our barn was demolished, my father brought the boards “on the hill” where we were assigned five acres of land. I remember being very scared because I didn’t fit on the tractor and my family left me alone to guard some items that didn’t fit. Well then, I sat there and guarded. Evening came, and nobody seemed to be coming back. I decided that this was it – they left me here, at the bottom. But then I finally saw my father coming. We spent the first nights on the new plot by simply putting our blankets under the pear tree, and we slept under the stars. Good that it was summer. J. S.: People were resorting to subterfuge over evacuation to get more substantial compensations. For example, before the old, crumbly huts were demolished, people would renovate them to increase the value of the house and the compensation. Some people moved wood from old homesteads. There are quite a few of such battened and revetted homesteads remaining with balks inside taken from the old buildings of the bottom. A. S.: For a while, we kids were running away from the new settlement to go back home, to the bottom. We tried to look for our homes, but when the ground was levelled, it was impossible to recognize the places. Once even the cow did the same.


My mother had gotten it as a dowry when she got married. So, it had lived in the bottom for a while, maybe 15 years. When we moved, the cow was tethered in new pastures. Once, we got there, and we couldn’t see it anywhere – it’ was gone! We found her back at the old pastures that haven’t been flooded yet. Later that same cow was sold to a collective farm, which she also fled, and when she returned home, it started mooing while looking at us through the window. Spending childhood at the bottom of the lagoon was a lot of fun; we would come up with all kinds of mischief. For a long time, you would still dream about running around and playing in those flooded places. Everything seemed fun and exciting to us kids, but our parents didn’t want to move out, they were going through a lot. What is the story behind this community, its joint activities, and gatherings? A. S.: Traditions started with an elderly collective, an ethnographic ensemble that formed 52 years ago. My husband and I were still not married, had just started seeing each other, and that celebration was already taking place. J. S.: When I started working here, in 1997, we met Nijolė Eidukaitienė, the manager of Kaunas Lagoon Regional Park, and we started talking about the fact that soon it will be 40 years as Nemunas was dammed up – it is time to start collecting ethnographic material more seriously, interviewing the elderly, who had lived in the place of the lagoon and remember this story. With the help of students, we started talking to the elderly ladies and got hooked.

When speaking, the elderly would get very excited – they would remember their childhood, youth; at least some would mention the same – supposedly haunted – places. At the beginning of the conversation, it seemed that they don’t remember anything – neither stories nor songs or dances, but when they got excited, the songs would start flowing. Or dances – you would say that these grandmas can barely walk, so we asked the students to dance according to their instructions. But when the ladies saw that students weren’t doing very well, they grabbed them and started dancing like crazy! “This is how you do it,” they would show. The students who were collecting the material would spend two, three hours with them. Some became really good friends – wood chopping and cepelinai exchange would be taking place. Me too – I would disappear for hours at Anastazija Kučinskienė’s, who was a true resident of the bottom and lived nearby. She also had an incredible memory – we recorded over three hundred songs with her. We are delighted that last year we finally organized, rewrote and entered the entire collection of cassettes and other data into the Book of Intangible Cultural Heritage – here’s a certificate on the wall. So, we can relax now – one large and important work was completed. Following the gathering of material, the first-ever dugniečiai gathering with the specific event and conference took place in Girionys in 1999 and since then has been held regularly every five years. And in 2014, Eglė Targanskienė started working with us (organizer of cultural events, director of Footprints on the Bottom of the Lagoon) and suggested that we should expand the event,

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Eglė Targanskienė: Interestingly, the people who used to live in the bottom moved not only to Samylai but also to Rumšiškės, Palemonas, Panemunė, Viršužiglis – they live all over the lagoon. But this place still remains a sort of centre of attraction. Even the street names in our eldership come from the names of flooded territories: Kampiškės, Laumėnai, Šilėnai, Dvareliškės, Dubravos. The main and largest gathering of our community for the past six years has been the Footprints on the Bottom of the Lagoon, an event taking place in the valley near the lagoon on the last summer weekend. As my colleagues have mentioned, this festivity has deep traditions. In the past, it was a chamber, ethnographic event, but now we want to make that “ethnic” attractive to everyone, young and old, and that, as you can understand, is a difficult task. We are glad to have received several thousand visitors this year – even a fly would have had a difficult time trying to squeeze onto that beach. We strive to make the Footprints on the Bottom of the Lagoon a cultural symbol of our region. We are trying to somehow consolidate this history because the living memory is slowly dying out. It is already challenging to invite the true locals, even for a conversation like this. What is special about the Footprints at the Bottom of the Lagoon event?

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come up with different themes and transfer it to the shores of the lagoon.

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All festivities have different topics; for example, in the first year of the event, the theme was Straw Village

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from the Bottom of the Lagoon. We made a large house out of straw, also cows, sheep, ducklings, and chickens – we covered the entire meadow with that straw village. All the objects were made in their original size. The ones who were making straw animals were running after cows trying to measure them. Later, the themes changed. We had built a market place, organized a wedding, and placed many dolls across the meadow, the skirts of which would end near the head of an adult person. Of course, we try not to stray away from traditions but gradually that ethnographic heritage mixes with other genres, and we start to look at events more flexibly. The program is joined by countryside orchestras, art collectives, dances, choir. We create combinations of different genres, mystery plays, and performances. At one event, the choir of elderly people performed with jazz musicians. The ladies were so fond of singing to jazz music that this year we released a CD titled Šimtametės dainos iš marių dugno (centuries-old songs from the bottom of the lagoon) in which you can find songs performed both originally and with jazz musicians. This year’s theme will be called Climbing out of the Water. We are coordinating a massive project with artists from Lithuania, Ukraine, England who create wood sculptures with chainsaws. If the idea succeeds, the sculptures will remain after the event and become a sculpture park in the water. It is important to emphasize how great our community is, thanks to which we can implement all the ideas. For example, we have Angelė’s


brother, a farmer, who contributes annually to the event. Three, four days before the event, we set up the scenography, and then he guards it for us. As soon as we call him, he gets into his little car, drives to the meadow and sits there overnight. And not just one night but three! If necessary, he also brings straw, cows, sheep, rabbits or chickens – anything we need!

E. T.: That was last year. And this year, when the time came to discuss the event, he announced that he is in a sanatorium, recovering after heart surgery, but he warned all the staff that when the time comes, he will man the meadow. Interestingly, you can never make him visit the cultural centre although he lives nearby, but, once a year, he has to carry out his meadow duty.

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A. S.: Imagine, my husband and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, our golden anniversary, and my brother doesn’t show up because he has to guard the meadow!

The alumnae of Kaunas 2022 youth programme invited residents of the city and district to join the annual community festival by drawing giant footsteps on the pavement. They would only be visible after the rain. Photo by the organisers.

E. T.: We have the Lagoon Bottom Theatre. This puppet theatre acts as an educational program during which we make puppets and perform legends from the bottom of the lagoon. We also have a painting studio, ethnic culture school for mothers with young children led by Gražina Gutmanienė, and our elderly are real stars! They tour all over. Recently, they have even been to Malta, where they presented their concert program. It is great that we currently feel this massive interest in the work and history of dugniečiai.

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What other activities do you have at Samylai Cultural Center?

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N G I S E D F O Y T I C O C S E N U – S A N K

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It was an early November morning in 1924, and the country’s technical elite was rushing to work down the autumn streets of Kaunas. A huge event – the first conference of Lithuanian engineers and architects – was about to start at the hall of the former Lithuanian University. It was organized by the Lithuanian Society of Engineers founded in the same year when the restoration of the country’s independence was announced, however, up until this event the organization was unable to leave a stronger mark on a country going through the awkward age and facing various issues. During the days of the conference, among the many presentations – that varied from the potential development of the Lithuanian hydroelectric network to the standard salaries of engineers – one of the most important moments was a paper by Mykolas Songaila which outlined the idea of ​​the country’s engineers and architects’ organization. After the presentation, it was decided that it will be established. This is how the Lithuanian Association of Engineers and Architects (LAEA) was born, and its statutes were approved the following year. In addition to defending professional interests, ethical issues and professional development, the association had another noble goal – it was to serve in raising the country’s technical culture or, as stated in its statutes, “to investigate and prepare for implementation the technical-cultural issues, brought forth by the developing life in Lithuania.”

How architects coalesced Paulius Tautvydas Laurinaitis

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The commitee for organising the Second Congress. 1938.

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Vladimiras Dubeneckis stood behind the helm of the Architecture/ Construction section founded inside the society, and the position of secretary was taken by a member of the younger generation, the future star of Lithuanian architecture – Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis. The most important event of LAEA was the annual general congresses. In addition to the congresses, interim board meetings and smaller gatherings of the members in informal environments were organized, during which, they discussed architecture and urbanism. For example, in one of such “beer outings” as they were called, in the early 1930s, Karolis Reisonas, an urban engineer of the time, presented Kaunas’ urban management issues and strategy. An essential moment in the life of the organization was an official publication Technology and Economy (Technika ir ūkis). Its publishing frequency increased over time, and the publication had become not only a platform for the exchange of professional knowledge but also a work that presented the latest achievements of the field to the public. Connections with respective neighboring organizations were made, particularly with Latvian, Estonian and Eastern Prussian engineers, and architects. For example, in December 1934, a meeting of Baltic architects was held in Riga, where a joint union of Baltic architects was established – Lithuanians then were represented by M. Songaila and K. Kriščiukaitis. And while the organization served as one of the main outposts of architectural thought among the community of professionals, architects were often left in the background, which was also influenced by the fact that they were simply not that many in

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the country. Besides, public statements made by the organization often did not carry much weight. An excellent example of this could be the futile attempts in the 1920s to stop specific faulty processes that had to do with historic buildings of Kaunas. As later recalled by V. Landsbergis-Žemkalnis, back in 1926 the section of architects had created a memorandum on reconstructions that were taking place or have already been implemented in the Old Town of the provisional capital: the failed reconstructions of a historical house on Vilnius Street (now Daukšos g. 19), as well as reconstructing Jesuit School and Seminary buildings adding two additional stories on top of them. In 1931 a division took place: LAEA was renamed as the Lithuanian Association of Engineers and part of its former member along with younger generation engineers founded a new society of Lithuanian Certified Engineers and Architects, which included such famous names in architecture as V. Landsbergis, A. Šalkauskis, and S. Kudokas. There were several reasons for this, but the key one was the fact that the professionals who had graduated from their studies abroad were encountering legal problems when trying to practice in Lithuania. This schism existed until 1938. The split-off organization seized to exist and the Lithuanian Association of Engineers became the Society of Lithuanian Engineers and Architects with an imperative that, “the existence of architects in the organization of engineers must be highlighted.” Not long after, in the same year, one of the most important moments in the country’s technical life took place – the Second Congress of Lithuanian Engineers and Architects, which brought


Lithuanian engineers in Königsberg. 1931

together 280 participants. A whole branch of presentations was dedicated to architectural issues. The presentations were read at the hall of the Physical Culture Palace, featuring papers that illustrated a new era in the country’s urban planning: Jonas Kovalskis wrote about the future urban planning of Kaunas, Steponas Stulginskis about the country’s construction policy and Jurgis Getneris about traditional urban planning of Lithuanian townships. The resolutions passed during the congress on the new building law and protection of architectural monuments or the landscape can also be considered one of the highest points. Although the Society of Lithuanian Engineers and Architects continued to have issues with their influence, it gradually started growing, and people were increasingly approaching the organization for consultation. In some cases, the opinion of the architects also determined quite important decisions of the temporary capital’s cityscape, for example – a need for the second tower for Kaunas Basilica or the construction of the new City Hall. Such vital issues as the socalled plan of Stone Lithuania, the establishment of Technical Palace or the Higher Technical School, which

were supposed to navigate the professional and ethical questions. The latter issue was particularly sensitive in terms of wishing to solve the lack of technical employees in the country, which was particularly acute in areas such as geodesy. The issue that was frequently highlighted by the engineers and architects – the establishment of a separate technological university, a polytechnic – received a final answer later, when the country seized to be independent, under different circumstances. The name of Gediminas, which was suggested in the interwar period, was not used at the time. Members of the organization also actively participated in the commissions of architectural competitions (for which the organization had special rules), such as the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts, Darius and Girėnas Monument or Maistas Factory workers’ colonies. By 1940, the organization had six sections and two and a half hundred members. And although the weight of the organization was increasing very gradually, its merits in creating a united sphere of Lithuanian engineers and architects cannot be underestimated, especially, since the Society of Lithuanian Engineers and Architects – like many other institutes of thought – was created from scratch.

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The new year is a great opportunity to invent something new or remember something that was wantonly forgotten. Merkurijus, presenting the things, objects or reads created in Kaunas or by Kaunas residents recently, returns to the pages of our magazine. Each time in a new or refurbished space. It is also a sort of wish to one day be able to find all these kaunastic things in one place.

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Gunars Bakšejevs Photos by Artūras Bulota

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„Kęstutis | Vytautas“ Kęstučio g. 1 After the renovation of the Kaunas Cultural Centre, its name was also changed. Both amateur and professional art (and increasingly cinema), continue to thrive in the building which has witnessed the interwar period and all the occupations. Finally, the cafe – or rather a bar, fulgent with metal and hypnotizing with the rhythm of its interior details – was opened at the centre. DJs appear there on the weekends and the menu offers a trip around the world. After the concert, before the screening or just because – at the spot where Vytautas Avenue meets Kęstutis Street.

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Wall calendar 12 faces of 2020 (Gabrielė Gudaitytė) 12 € Gabrielle Gudaitytė, who illustrated one issue of our magazine over a year ago, remains faithful to her style where lines and forms speak louder than colours. Twelve portraits for twelve months. There are only a few copies left either in Vilnius – Raštinė – or you can ask the author directly.

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Magazine for Kaunas Į (Kaunas Photography Gallery, 2019) 15 € The magazine, published annually for Christmas, returned for the fourth time. This time the ever-changing team of authors is looking at the concept of Kaunas’ (inter)nationality and interpreting it artistically. Inside, there are confessions of religious communities, encryption of street names, and a photo tour of Kaunas communal flats. In both Lithuanian and English. We applaud and can‘t wait for the 5th volume. 2020 JANUARY

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Tourist route Kaunas in Film (Kaunas IN, 2019) Free of charge It is debatable whether it is good or bad that Western filmmakers easily construct Soviet (or Tsarist) images in Lithuania. However, such TV shows like Chernobyl or Tokyo Trial and their ratings add muscle to our film industry. Ten most interesting Kaunas‘ roles in cinema - it has already managed to become Moscow, Norway, Tokyo and itself - on a free of charge tour. Both in Lithuanian and English.

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The Wise Old Man socks (Kaunas IN, Spalvotos kojinės) 8€

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One of the largest and most photographed murals in Kaunas has already become a symbol of the modern city, recognized officially as well. This year, Tadas Šimkus and Žygimantas Amelynas’ work will be renovated and the message about the colourful Kaunas is spreading around the world with the help of bags, T-shirts, caps, and tights. From now on – a wise old man for both of your feet. 6

Collective monograph Presidential Palace in Kaunas (M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, 2019) When your colleagues are like those at the Historical Presidential Palace, it isn’t so terrible when you have to stay at work longer (we have no doubt that this monograph required more than official hours). The result is a thick, solid publication presenting not just a specific building but the shifting moods of the temporary capital in general. In Lithuanian.

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Giedrė Milerytė-Japertienė, Kai Kaunas buvo Kaunas (Tyto Alba, 2019) I hope the title will not irritate you – the book does not seek to prove that once – in 1938, more precisely – things were better. They were different and yet you will definitely find similarities – in terms of events and ideas – while leafing through this easyto-read book, also suitable for those who know nothing about Kaunas. In Lithuanian.

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Kaunas Full of Culture magazine’s yearbook Free of charge For the fourth time, we have summarized the year of Kaunas and our editorial office with one publication. Decorated with the diplomat Chiune Sugihara’s image – we will be celebrating his 120th birthday this year – it contains the best stories and conversations of 2019. In Lithuanian and English. Available at Kaunas Artists’ House.

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Calendar STAGE Friday, 01 03, 6 pm

Performance “Ghetto”

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National Kaunas drama theatre, Laisvės al. 71 “Ghetto”, a performance directed by Gintaras Varnas and based on a play by Joshua Sobol, was the highlight of the theatre’s 99th season. The play focuses on the experiences of the Jews of the Vilna Ghetto during Nazi occupation in World War II, as well as the story of the Jewish theatre inside the ghetto. Theatre became the source of strength and resistance. It’s a story about a collective fight for survival, both physical and spiritual. Varnas added a lot of documentary material to the work of Sobol. You’re now able to see it subtitled in English. Wednesday, 01 15, 6 pm

Performance “Nathan the Wise” National Kaunas drama theatre, Laisvės al. 71

Once upon a time in the Eastern lands, there lived a man who had a magical ring. Whoever wore the ring was followed by God’s grace and glory. The ring was always passed from one generation to another to the most beloved son in the family. Once, however, it ended up in the hands of a man who had three sons whom he loved equally. The man could not make up his mind to whom he should give the ring. Before his death, he went to see the jeweller and asked him to make Pet-friendly places

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two more such rings. Then he secretly gave a ring to each of his sons and passed away. When the sons saw that all of them had rings, they began quarrelling and arguing. Which ring is the real one? Which two are worthless copies? Who is destined to become the chosen one? Three religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – even nowadays try to prove that only one of them is right and fair. “Nathan the Wise”, a utopian tale of the Age of Enlightenment (18th century), exalts the human mind and the power to make the world perfect and tries to convince us that three sons – three religions – can live in peace and harmony.

MUSIC Saturday, 01 04, 5 pm

Choir music festival “Waiting for the Three Kings”

Kaunas cultural centre, Kęstučio g. 1 Festival “Waiting for the Three Kings” invites you to listen to the most beautiful works of Lithuanian and foreign composers, Christmas carols, popular operas and operettas performed by two choirs: Kaunas cultural centre mixed choir “Amber” (leader Jovita Kulakauskienė, concertmaster Goda Palskytė, choirmaster Gintarė Ručinskaitė) and Šakiai cultural centre mixed choir “Lituanica” (leader Deividas Kerevičius, choirmaster Rima Berentaitė). Edvinas Vadoklis will be the host for this event.


January Saturday, 01 04, 11 pm

Thursday, 01 09, 8 pm

“Chronicle“

Live. “Karšti klijai”

“Lizdas“, Nepriklausomybės a. 12

Bar “Godo”, Laisvės al. 89

There is no doubt that drum & bass has had a significant impact on the whole clubbing scene. And there is no doubt that for the past 25 years there were so many shifts in the sound of the genre, that you almost couldn’t fit everything in just a single night. However, “Chronicle” will try to do exactly that. Your DJs for the evening will be Hathor, Onis, Raven, and Bevz.

“We invite you to find your strength on the 9th of January and come to Laisvės al. 89-1D. The concert is free! And everyone working in the Town Hall section of Kaunas City Museum will get a free CD!“, – boldly declares the band while keeping straight faces. Friday, 01 10, 11 pm

“Between two dawns: Sassy J” “Lizdas”, Nepriklausomybės a. 12

Tuesday, 01 07, 7 pm

Concert “Salon of Clara Schumann”

Kaunas cultural centre, Kęstučio g. 1

Photo from personal archive.

Inspired by pianist Guoda Gedvilaitė, the concert series combines music, literature, art, and theatre into one whole. It takes the listener to the 19th century, where composers, writers, actors, and artists meet in salons. Historical characters are embodied by today‘s professional musicians and young talents.

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Sassy J, an amazing selector and producer from Switzerland, is coming to Kaunas. She has already become a regular resident of the „Dekmantel“ festival and is releasing her recordings at the most prestigious Dutch vinyl factory „Rush Hour“. But all of these facts are no longer relevant when you dive into the adventurous Sassy J’s sets on the dance floor. The star of the evening will be accompanied by Balsys, Oyster, and Kashar.

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Calendar Music of „Veytra“ can be described as introspective, melancholic, but at the same time dynamic and multilayered. This band creates songs that seem like a musical stream of thoughts, reflections of the inevitable being, and a longing for experiments. Their inspirations vary from random radio waves to mythical creatures. „Sinamort“ is a band formed in 2015. A long metamorphosis refined their sound, which is built on a death/doom foundation, but the band also explores more complex consonants and experiments with a variety of dark music genres. Their music is bipolar and inhomogeneous, like mania and depression, where melancholic harmony intertwines with severe dissonance.

Saturday, 01 18, 8 pm

Live. “Ministry of Echology” “Sinagoga Studio”, Vaisių g. 30

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Photo by Aušra Umbrasaitė

In this live concert members of “Ministry Of Echology” will present their newly released third studio album titled “Mixed feelings”. Friends of the band „The Kala Sound System” are joining this festive album launch party to take care of the concert’s sound quality, and an energetic dance set afterwards. Friday, 01 24, 9 pm

Live. “Veytra” and “Sinamort”

Club “Lemmy”, Girstupio g. 1

Photo by “Sinamort”

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Wednesday, 01 29, 7 pm

“Synaesthesis” live: “Vortex Temporum”

Kaunas Artists’ House, V. Putvinskio g. 56

Kaunas Artists‘ House presents yet another project „Vortex Temporum“ by Vilnius contemporary music ensemble „Synaesthesis“. In this concert, the ensemble will perform a piece created by a French composer and a star of spectral music, Gerard Grisey. “To hear Grisey’s music is to have adventures in the stuff of sound that will change your ears forever. Raw and perfected at the same time, rigorously structured yet full of savage energy – this is the composer’s magnum opus: a three-movement thrilling journey with “Vortex Temporum” for piano, strings, and wind.” – once wrote “The Guardian” about one of the most influential 20th-century artists.


January Friday, 01 31, 8 pm

Concert “Greatest film scores” Kaunas state philharmonic, L. Sapiegos g. 5

Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra together with conductor Vilmantas Kaliūnas invites everyone to dive into the world of cinema. In the concert you will hear music from „Titanic“, „Robin Hood“, „Spider-Man“, „King Kong“, „Mission Impossible“, „Jurassic Park“, „The Magnificent Seven“, „Dances with Wolves“, „Somewhere in Time“, and „E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial“. While listening to those easily recognizable melodies, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy unique visual projections tailored to fit each score. The fusion of music and visuals will be complemented with short, yet unusual, perhaps unheard of stories about each film and its soundtrack.

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EXHIBITIONS 12 12 – 01 27

Community Origami Installation “Folding a Human” Kaunas Picture Gallery pavilion “Gallery without Walls”, K. Donelaičio g. 16

Four hundred paper-men clung together into an integral human, walking bravely into the city on a community mission. Kaunas Picture Gallery is inviting you to celebrate the first step of this human’s journey. Origami paper-men were folded by the volunteers from “Women’s Helpline” and elder women club “PRIEmenė“ (we have written about both of them in our December and November issues), along with the participants of an open folding workshop. At September and October gatherings in an exhibition “In Memory of Paper”, the paper became a social medium, a challenge that led to being together, sharing experiences and emotions. The photographic documentation of the workshops, their thoughts and paper-men turned into an exhibition of the “Gallery without Walls“.

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Calendar 12 13 – 01 31

Exhibition “Ladislas Starevich – the pioneer of animation”

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Kaunas City Museum Town Hall, Rotušės a. 15

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The life and creative history of Ladislas Starevich, an entomology fanatic and pioneer of puppet animation, stretches across several countries and seems like an immersive, enigmatic movie. The various written forms of his name and frequent misrepresentations of his biographical facts intrigue and inspire to get to know L. Starevich better. Born in Moscow, he spent his childhood in Kaunas with his grandmother. His lifelong interest in the insect world and photography, as well as later on in the cinema, has developed right here. Through his bold filmmaking ideas, L. Starevich created unique methodologies to tell the story, something without which today’s cinema wouldn’t be the same – stop-motion technique and puppet animation. And all this happened in Kaunas, more precisely in Kaunas City Museum! The inventor created his first films while working in a nature department of what was then called Kaunas City Science-Industrial Museum. At this exhibition, you can see L. Staravich‘s photographs, drawings and paintings, as well as footage from his films.

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12 18 – 01 11

Robertas Antinis’ exhibition “Act: Eraser” Gallery “Meno parkas”, Rotušės a. 27

A moment from the exhibition’s opening. Organisers’ photo.

Many stages of his creative work mark the path of the sculptor Robert Antinis. His artistic life began from working with his father, the famous sculptor Robert Antinis (the Elder). Later (since 1980) the artist turned towards the topics „About the Blind“ and „Measures for Sighting“. Other topics that occupy a prominent place in his works are: “Epitaphs” and “Ephemeras”. After them comes the “Eraser”, related to the concepts of process and interactivity. Here the artist tries to create and exhibit the relationship between the perceiver and the presented „characters“, rather than objects. In the latest exhibition, “Act: Eraser”, the main character is Eraser itself. Here it is transformed into an actor playing an act of his endless possibilities for reincarnation. The exhibit consists of Robertas’ latest works, shapes and objects talking about various unexpected eraser-type situations.


January 12 20 – autumn

Exhibition “The Reality Expands”

12 23 – 01 30

“Colour-mood-symbol”

Gallery “Balta”, M. Valančiaus g. 21

Kaunas Archdiocese Museum, M. Valančiaus g. 6 An exhibition of this kind, which allows us to interactively experience the artworks from the 17th-20th centuries with the help of innovative technologies, is happening in Lithuania for the first time. In this exhibition, you can see 32 artworks from the church art collection of Kaunas Archdiocese Museum. Only a few of them have been known to the public until now, and most of the exhibition consists of newly restored works, which will be shown for the first time. Among them is a very special antependium of the altar. It was made in France, using an extremely rare and unique technique of weaving glass beads. The old works were revived by the animator Gaspar Aleksa, who created visualizations that individually reveal the contents of each exhibit. The radiographs of the paintings were made by Rapolas Vedrickas, a restorer of “Meno kūrinių tyrimai”. The works were brought to life by the restorers of the Lithuanian Art Museum P. Gudynas Restoration Center and the National M. K. Čiurlionis Art Museum.

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Artwork by Sigitas Petrauskas.

“Colour-mood-symbol” is a traditional exhibition which has been organised for 11 years in a row and always takes place at the end of the year. Twentyfive artists from painting, textile, print, porcelain and ceramics fields exhibit their works at this year‘s exhibition. The exhibition is rich in different genres and stylistics. Through this diversity, an intriguing, exciting narrative is created, and it highlights different shapes that white colour can take. In this longrunning competition-exhibition white colour usually symbolises light, joy and success. The exhibition also proposes an intrigue – every year visitors choose the best white work

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which is then crowned as the winner of “Colour-mood-symbol”. In this year‘s exhibition you’ll be able to see works created by Lilija Mogylienė, Danutė Valentaitė, Birutė Sarapienė, Remigijus Sederevičius, Zita Virginija Jusevičiūtė-Tarasevičienė, Giedrė Petkevičiūtė, Aušra Kleizaitė, Egidijus Rudinskas, Laura Steponavičiūtė, Gitas Markutis, Laima JonynienėGiedraitienė, Modestas Malinauskas, Vytautas Poška, Sigitas Petrauskas, Marija Rastenienė, Eglė Petraitytė Talalienė, Inga Žemaitienė, Džiuljeta Raminta Čebatoraitė, Danutė Vaskelaitė, Danguolė Brogienė, Marina Chopey, Erika Petunovienė, Ana Marija Blažienė, Marijus Petrauskas, and Gintarė Maskaliūnienė.

CINEMA From 01 02

Film “Who You Think I Am” Kaunas cinema centre “Romuva”, Kęstučio g. 62

Film still

01 06 – 02 02

Žilvinas Jagėla’s posters and illustrations exhibition Bar “Godo”, Laisvės al. 89

Žilvinas was born in 1989. A few years later, after watching a ton of cartoons, he picked up a felt tip pen and started drawing. And he still does that to this day. He has been creating illustrated posters since 2014 and has taken care of almost all the concert posters and album covers for Vilnius-based rock band „Arklio Galia“. Most often, the author‘s work is dominated by such inexhaustible artistic motifs as creepiness, vulgarity, deformity, and chaos. The exhibition will feature concert posters and several other illustrations, as well as the grandiose painting “1000 Roosters of Žilvinas Jagėla.”

K AU N A S F U L L O F CU LT U R E

In an attempt to escape loneliness, a recently divorced attractive middle-aged literary professor (Juliette Binoche) creates a fake Facebook account. She uses an image of a stranger and pretends to be a 24-yearold girl named Claire. Soon she starts flirting with 29-year-old Alex. As the conversations and passion intensifies, Alex wants to meet, and Claire is struggling to find excuses not to. The woman loses herself in the traps of the virtual world as her true identity, children, and work are getting pushed into the margins. “Who You Think I Am” masterfully shows how social networks can blur the boundaries between lies and reality.

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January Tuesday, 01 07, 7:30 pm

From 01 08

“Forum Cinemas”, Karaliaus Mindaugo pr. 49

Kaunas cinema centre “Romuva”, Kęstučio g. 62

Film “The Truman Show”

Film “For Sama”

Film still

Film still

The film screening series “Watch in the Cinema” invites you to immerse yourself in the surreal director Peter Weir’s nightmare “The Truman Show,” in which Jim Carrey embodies one of his most memorable characters.

“For Sama” is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice – whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much. The film was shown at a special screening at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received high praise from the audience and was awarded the „Prix L’Œil d’Or“ as the best documentary film of the year 2019.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the feeling that someone is secretly watching you? The film’s character, Truman Burbank feels this way constantly. He doesn‘t even suspect that he’s actually right. From the moment he was born thirty years ago, resident of a small town Seahaven, Truman Burbank has been the star of the longest-running and most popular documentary soap opera in television history. His birthplace – beautiful, shiny toy town Seahaven – is actually the world‘s largest television studio. All of Truman‘s friends and relatives, all the people he meets are actors. Each of his actions is continuously followed by thousands of hidden TV cameras.

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Calendar From 01 10

Film “1917”

“Forum Cinemas”, Karaliaus Mindaugo pr. 49

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Sam Mendes, the Oscar-winning director of “Skyfall”, “Spectre”, and “American Beauty”, brings his singular vision to his film “1917”. At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers – Blake’s own brother among them.

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01 17 – 01 19

13th Vilnius International Short Film Festival | Kaunas Kaunas cinema centre “Romuva”, Kęstučio g. 62

Still from film “A cat is always a woman”.

The 13th Vilnius International Short Film Festival starts the 2020 calendar of major cinema events with over 60 short films from around the world. Not only in Vilnius but also elsewhere in Lithuania! Kaunas audience will have the opportunity to see several screenings of the festival’s international competition program, the Haapsalu Horror, A Dreadfully Scary program prepared by Fantasy Film Festival, the French-selected wonders of the animated world for children, and a fascinating collection of animated documentaries.


January SPORT

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Saturday, 01 11, 5 pm

Tuesday, 01 28, 7 pm

LKL. Kaunas “Žalgiris” – Kėdainiai “Nevėžis” “Žalgirio” arena, Karaliaus Mindaugo pr. 50

“Žalgiris” is set to play their first “Betsafe-LKL” match of 2020 on home ground on the 11th of January, as “Nevėžis” is looking to challenge the Lithuanian champions. Having been on the brink of extinction, the team of Kėdainiai has rounded up a young group of talents, a promising head coach and has already made some noise in Lithuania. Let’s all get together and ignite the spirit of “Žalgiris”. Friday, 01 24, 7:45 pm

EuroLeague. Kaunas “Žalgiris” – Berlin “ALBA” “Žalgirio” arena, Karaliaus Mindaugo pr. 50

After a 22-day break, EuroLeague basketball is heading home. “Žalgirio” arena will be hosting Berlin “ALBA” with Rokas Giedraitis leading the opponent team. Let’s come together and greet “Žalgiris” with ferocious and united support!

Slam #29

Kaunas Artists’ House, V. Putvinskio g. 56

Photo by Kaunas Artists’ House

Years come and go but Slam in Kaunas Artists’ House is not going anywhere. Same as always, but never the same. It is always open to spoken word – both of novice lyricists and experienced slammers. Same rules remain. If you have any questions, please contact asta@kmn.lt.

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KAUNAS FULL OF CULTURE Monthly magazine about personalities and events in Kaunas (free of charge)

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Laisvės alėja 59, third floor

Editorial office:

Authors: Artūras Bulota, Arvydas Čiukšys, Austėja Banytė, Bernadeta Buzaitė, Donatas Stankevičius, Eglė Šertvyčūtė, Emilija Visockaitė, Ettoja, Julija Račiūnaitė, Justė Vyšniauskaitė, Kamilė Kaminskaitė, Kotryna Lingienė, Kęstutis Lingys, Paulius Tautvydas Laurinaitis.

Patrons:

KAUNO MIESTO SAVIVALDYBĖ

RUN 100010COPIES. TIRAŽAS 000 EGZ.

K AU N A S F U L L O F CU LT U R E

ISSN 2424-4465

Leidžia: Publisher:

2020 1 (53) 2017 Nr. 2 (18)

Profile for Kaunas Pilnas Kultūros

KAUNAS FULL OF CULTURE JANUARY 2020  

KAUNAS FULL OF CULTURE JANUARY 2020  

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