A Desolate Place (Solo Show)

Kaunas, 2012

a desolate place is like a forest after winter, when you enter it

“I have not tried to write the history of that language, but rather the archaeology of that silence.”

— Michel Foucault 1961. Madness and Civilization

A year working in the premises of former psychiatric hospital (present – Vilnius Art Academy, Kaunas Faculty) and every day crossing over a sill which not all mental patients were once allowed to cross, passing by old corridors with peeling painted walls and working in blank rooms – former wards on whose walls inscriptions like ‘women’s section’, ‘aminazine’ and such can still be read – I felt the aura of things past, which is no longer sustained in the present, doomed to chance and decline, finding itself in an intermediate state, which is the experience of any abandoned building, of a desolate place.

I am interested in a critical point about these places, which is their situation as refuse spaces, caused by the lack of support. The main idea is that when suddenly things are left as they are, with no further support, and become desolated they also are left alone to their own flow (existence).

The placement of a psychiatric hospital in the former palace of the Dukes, during Soviet times, had disastrous consequences for the building and is a metaphor for the general contempt shown for true history, during that period. However, the patients settled in the premises and the physicians who worked there all considerably influenced the building along the years.

Yet another new occupancy in the former psychiatric hospital, the Art Academy, did not effect the premises a lot (perhaps the contrary). That does not differ from other desolate houses where, instead of human beings, birds and other creatures live – wasted spaces, no longer renewed, unprotected and nevertheless marked by their visitors.

In this exhibition, sites are shown as they are – dull, not idealised, not prominent – mimicking what happens to abandoned buildings, which simply continue to exist. People rarely come to observe, spend time there, or live in them, if they ever come at all – all they do is pillage the remains of what’s left, or else use them for something unrelated to the sites themselves.

The desertion of a place begins in the human mind, when one decides to ‘leave the area’. Country, work, friends, ideas, beliefs – there is nothing irreplaceable. In a desolated place, someone or something will appear – man, bird, idea, country, city, lichens. There is no empty space. The only thing one could do would be to never leave one’s place.