Mini Gallery "Don't Cry" - a portable model of an abstract art gallery. To be precise - the "corner"of one imaginable gallery. Created in 2014 as an impromptu idea - to take an exhibition into nature, to let it relax. After all, exhibitions also need to spend time in nature, without spectators, without criticism. The first exhibition was a painting exhibition, for which a modest chair was scaled down. Taking the exhibition to the bank of the Neris river revealed something amazing: the gallery with the exhibition takes its rest, while new contexts are introduced and the natural environment's influence comes into play - lighting, shadows, unexpected passersby. And most importantly - encouragement is staged in every "Don't Cry" mini gallery location: "Don't Cry" by the Neris river, or "Don't Cry" on a bench, "Don't Cry" in the rain, "Don't Cry" in a tree.
The mini gallery started provoking a dialogue - what is the space of exhibitions? How do we perceive exhibitions? Is the size of the gallery or the artworks important? To facilitate the discussion, I first started experimenting with fellow artists, to explore how others think when creating an exposition in such a small space (54x44x22cm). The space is so small, yet the artworks must be original, and the gaps between the paintings are as important as the paintings themselves. What surprised me the most was that all invited artists took the task seriously. The first participant was the painter Simona Žilėnaitė. Coincidentally, she was working on large canvases at that time, preparing for a personal exhibition at the "Pamėnkalnio" gallery in Vilnius, so she took on the challenge of the mini gallery "Don't Cry". I believe the challenge worked wonderfully for her: she framed the artworks in the smallest possible frame, glazed them, and we agreed to present this exhibition as an exhibition within an exhibition during her normal scale exhibition.
Remembering the context of the exhibition within an exhibition and contemplating past and future "Neverk" locations, a phrase from the book "Artistic Research" resonates in my mind: "In epistemology, the prevailing thinking is that each field of science has its individual ontological field - various phenomena exist and are recognized within the boundaries of that field. Beyond its boundaries, phenomena become blurry, losing clear characteristics: when a work of visual art is placed on the stage, it becomes part of the scenography and loses its status as a work of art; when a musical composition is played in a film, it loses its independence and becomes part of the emotional impact of the film. <...> In fact, we understand that this is precisely the task of episteme - to define its context." Therefore, natural questions arise about what is more important: an exhibition within the confines of a mini gallery, or the interaction of exhibitions with the space in which the mini gallery is located, or perhaps the emergence of the gallery itself as an object, a medium, in a new context? Is this interaction adequate/controversial/friendly/clever/relevant? The comparison and considerations are the most interesting. Perhaps the term "post-curation" would fit here, although in most cases, the mini gallery "Neverk" simply succumbs to randomness. Sometimes, we do a lot of things intuitively, without attributing actions to terms, and only later do we see connections.
Another participant in the gallery was the graphic artist Artūras Rožkovas. The situation was more favorable for him, as he happened to have canvases of a suitable format. We then held a cozy exhibition opening in the author's studio. He played with the name of the mini gallery "Neverk" (Don't Cry) and simply said "Cry." Rožkovas stated that he understood that creating a mini exhibition was a fun game, an opportunity to transform the ordinary world with an unusual perspective, to exhibit real mini paintings by mocking them, carrying them wherever he wanted, discovering new locations, so that everything would be as it is not, to climb onto the roof, because that's how it should be.
As the mini gallery "Neverk" naturally became an unobtrusive space with minimal requirements, artists, feeling boundless possibilities, organized numerous exhibitions over the years. Most interestingly, as the curator of the gallery (everyone jokingly calls me the gallery director), I find it fascinating how the author's visual language is articulated in the mini gallery's exhibition. Much depends on the desired environmental impact. Artist Kristina Kurilionok used subtle colors of nature, which, in combination with the exhibition, created a strong tandem. Continuing the idea of an evolving dialogue, it takes place differently between each author and the exhibition, as the author is the creator, exhibition architect, and photographer, all in one.
Sometimes, there are significant gaps between exhibitions, as convincing artists to "downsize" is not easy, so once I simply brought the mini gallery to Algimantas Černiauskas. Here you go - the gallery, now make an exhibition in it. The result was successful. Since Algimantas is a social person, he decided to create a real show: with many people, we'll speak through a microphone, I, as the director, will introduce the exhibition, and Algimantas will perform an improvised performance exhibition that will take place within the confines (and beyond) of the mini gallery, reciting poetry (Full video of the performance: Youtube). This further reinforced my exploration of the discussion between the mini gallery "Neverk" and everything that surrounds it. First and foremost - the audience, who are always the most important. In this mini case, the audience comes in two types: life-size viewers and mini viewers (which can be anything - animals, scaled toys, imagined characters).
Speaking of the audience,
it was most interesting to
participate in the music and art festival
"Yaga Gathering: Absurdistan 2020."
Of course, mini gallery was too tiny and had to become bigger! So we made it simple - the amount of the gallery had to be increased to four mini galleries, where four installations were presented:
"A Painting is Also a Human,"
These were interactive installations where visitors could adjust the exhibits themselves, move furniture, rearrange details.
With more mini galleries, broader possibilities opened up. "Neverk" began to appear more often as a gallery-exhibit, creating installations with thematic interiors. In 2020-2021, the installations "Rainbow Laboratory" and "Horror as it Shines" were created for the "Tiny Worlds" exhibition at the Educational Center of Klaipėda Puppet Theater. For the arts festival "Aritmija 2022" in Merkinė, even three versions were created: "Neverk" transformed from a mini gallery into a mini museum (with a piano and paintings in gold frames); it turned into stone - installed into a rock and circumvented the rocks, pretending to be a rock next to the other two real rocks, also turned into a room with a ghostly atmosphere with hidden values under UV light. As the curator of the gallery, I value an active social gallery life. Being within the installation and integrating into the context of a festival or exhibition-within-an-exhibition provides the greatest bouquet of surprises, a purposeful audience, positive dialogues, the necessary context. I won't forget how Akvilina Šimkevičiūtė simply took her painting exhibition and installed it in Kaunas Soboras. It fit so well in the interior that a passerby who didn't know wouldn't even notice.
As the gallery "Neverk" developed into a comprehensive space with a chameleon character, experimenting with various transformations, the gallery regained its status as an exhibition space, hosting solo exhibitions by artists who returned to it. What's most fun is that several exhibitions can take place in the "Neverk" mini gallery at the same time, currently there are even four - in Klaipėda, Švenčionėliai, and two in Vilnius. These include Pijus Čeikauskas' traveling exhibition "Pijin mini expo," Eglė Gudonytė's "Monologue," Evelina Paukštytė's "Neverk, and it will melt: a comic sans tale," and Adomas Žudys' "LINEARv2."
Words fall short in describing what it means to create a gallery from three panels and achieve so much with it over nine years. This article is the first step into the world of contemporary art. As the "director" of the gallery, I understand that I must write about the support and contribution of the participating artists. We grew together from a new gallery and a "young" director, and I am immensely proud that the mini gallery can fulfill the functions of a regular gallery. Artists who exhibited in the "Neverk" mini gallery: Artūras Rožkovas, Simona Žilėnaitė, Kristina Kurilionok, Algimantas Černiauskas, Ieva Juršėnaitė, Rima Blažytė, Akvilina Šimkevičiūtė, Laura Valiukevičiūtė, Indrė Ercmonaitė, Agnė Gintalaitė, Pijus Čeikauskas, Evelina Paukštytė, Eglė Gudonytė, Adomas Žudys.
In the world, there are countless similar mini gallery enthusiasts, with whom we have become acquainted and maintained a connection. When I started exploring mini galleries in 2014, I had only found a few like-minded people, but now the "Neverk" gallery enthusiasts are considered one of the oldest, and the community is rapidly expanding. More active individuals have formed the "Guild of Micro Galleries," published the book "Tiny Art Gallery Manual," and on April 15th, World Tiny Art Gallery Day is celebrated. The biggest event is yet to come - the first mini gallery exhibition and mini gallery owners' gathering will take place in London in the coming years.
Translated from artnews.lt