‘In the beginning was the deed!’ were words from Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “Faust”. The scientist utters these words before making a deal with Mephistopheles, prioritising action over thought and word in changing the world order. These words were used as a slogan by the anarchist group Black Banner active in Białystok, Dnipro and Odessa in 1906, the slogan unambiguously expressing the use of aggressive physical force against the then tsarist government and increasingly powerful industrialists and bankers. The history of this and various other anti-imperialist groups that operated in the territory that is delineated by current borders of Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia, was brought to life in 2020 by the exhibition “Na początku był czyn!” held in Białystok’s gallery Arsenal. Curators of this exhibition not only opened these archives, but also together with artists (and) activists reflected the context of today’s social, political and contemporary art transformations.
The exhibition “In the beginning was the deed!” organised at the Kaunas Artists’ House continues the narrative started in Bialystok with the history of anarchist movements in Lithuania. By opening the archives, this story turns the exhibition into a conversation about the ways of writing and reading radical collective and personal narratives, about the (im)possibility of resistance to dominant powers and their forms of representation, about the unevenness of the margins of everyday life.
Exhibition participants: Anastasia Sosunova, Agnė Jokšė, Anton Karyuk, Naglis Kristijonas Zakaras, Goda Palekaitė ir Adomas Palekas, Iza Tarasewicz, Liliana Zeic, the unknown author of Grodno archive.
During the exhibition, the social center Emma will host a discursive events program, which will include stories about bright rebellious personalities and little known archives, initiatives of resistance, drag, and self-publishing.
Researchers, and participants of events program: Viktorija Kolbešnikova, Aleksander Łaniewski, Tomas Marcinkevičius, Darius Pocevičius, Auksė Petrulienė, Asta Volungė, Querelle.
Opening day program:
19:00 Exhibition doors open at the Kaunas Artists’ House (V. Putvinskio str. 56)
19:30 Talk with Bialystok’s exhibition “Na początku był czyn!” curators Matthew Post and Katarzyna Różniak-Szabelska
20:00 Exhibition tour with artists and curators
21:00 Opening party with Querelle at the social center Emma (A. Mickevičiaus str. 35)
More information about the events program can be found at www.kmn.lt
Exhibition curators: Edgaras Gerasimovičius, Vaida Stepanovaitė
Research and public program curator: Agnė Bagdžiūnaitė
Bialystok’s exhibition “Na początku był czyn!” curators: Matthew Post and Katarzyna Różniak-Szabelska
Design: Vytautas Volbekas
Organised by: Kaunas Artists’ House, Swallow (Vilnius), gallery Arsenal (Bialystok)
Project is funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture
Thank you: Antanas Stanislauskas, social centre Emma collective