Ugnius Gelguda, audiovisual installation, 3 photo slides, sound, 3,5x14 m, 2006
Second edition is included in the collection of Modern Art Center, Vilnius
Lithuanian version of text can be downloaded here
The audiovisual installation consists of the sound recording of the staged medieval battle and the static panorama projected in three slides. The slides capture the physical and emotional exaltation of the crowd at the rock concert. Employing the iconography of the historical painting The Battle of Zalgiris by Jan Matejko (monumental, dynamic, frontal composition of the panoramic projection), the soundtrack, the title of the project, Ugnius Gelguda deconstructs the principal of rewriting of history.
Excerpt from Information Centre of Lithuanian National Gallery Of Art
Deconstruction of Zalgiris identity
Prepared by Laima Kreivyte, 7md magazine
Laima Kreivyte (born 1972) is an art critic and curator based in Vilnius. She was a curator of Lithuanian pavilion in 53rd Venice Biennale. In 2007 she co-curated Baltic mythologies program in the 3rd Prague Biennale.
Ugnius Gelguda‘s audiovisual installation Zalgiris highlights constructions of
collective identity. Author consciously doesn’t indicate which event is more important. Zalgiris battle in 1410, when united army of Lithuanians, the Polish, Russians, Czechsand Tartarians defeated Teutonic Order or Kaunas’ basketball team, which smashed Central Army Sports Club (CSKA) of Moscow. In the huge projection, which reminds monumental wall painting we see rampageous youth without any signs of recognition. They can be either basketball’s or football’s fans, just without attributes of beloved team. This is also important. Author doesn’t document, he creates generalized portrait of youth, without identifying exact time or place.
The masses are united rather by common enemy, not common work. It is not accidental that aggressive poses of rampageous youth are accompanied by sounds of battle with tang of swards. Zalgiris – is one of the most important symbols of Lithuanian national identity and collective commonness. That’s why this performance is not about the contemporary battle, but about mechanisms of power, which crank patriotic rhetoric of the struggle.
Artist consciously refuses empty rhetoric and denudes mechanism of collective identity itself. This audiovisual installation forcibly shows how collective commonness, hostility, involvement and alienation are created and how historical battles become repeating mythical rituals of underground. Thereby changeable conception of identity is uncovered – from inherent subjects, such as native language and land to free choice such as multinational basketball team.
His rhythmic reminds battle scenes of renaissance painter Paolo Ucello, magnificent compositions of classical battle – pieces and video gymnastic of new brutalists, such as Jane and Louise Wilson. Every generation rewrite its tales about titans: there was Vytautas with sward erect by Janas Matejka, there was fallen knight and mess of bodies by Sarunas Sauka. Contemporary Zalgiris is not the battle of knights and titans. It is phenomenon of club – culture, which soundtrack reminds mystical fighting movies.
2010 Special prize of Ministry of Culture for work Zalgiris
2007 Moscow International Festival of Arts (special prize for work Zalgiris)