Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds—opening events and public programme

Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds—opening events and public programme
Zuzanna Hertzberg—Volunteers for Freedom / Photo: Vika Eksta

On Friday, April 29, the exhibition Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds dedicated to the painful histories of Eastern European countries was opened at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius. The opening program of the exhibition also featured performances by artists Zuzanna Hertzberg and Laima Kreivytė, Arminas Bižys, Simonas Kaupinis and Vladas Urbanavičius, as well as a guided tour with the participating artists of the exhibition.

During the exhibition opening, Difficult Present. 65 Days (saxophone, tube, gas pipe) was performed by Laima Kreivytė, Arminas Bižys, Simonas Kaupinis and Vladas Urbanavičius. The score is a sonic diary of the war in Ukraine, where wind instruments combine breath and metal, with every day of the war marked by the sound of a gas pipe. The echoing object is welded from the remains of the gas pipe used for the sculpture The Embankment Arch—the most debated public artwork in the history of independent Lithuania.

Audio recording of the performance:


On Saturday, April 30, the Polish artist Zuzanna Hertzberg held a spoken word performance to accompany her artwork Volunteers for Freedom. This work restores the memory of Jewish Polish and Jewish Latvian women who fought in the International Brigades in support of its Republican government against General Franco’s troops during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39).

The work is comprised of boxes that unfold, chosen, according to the artist, as they resemble “a space where certain family stories are kept.” Hertzberg explained that “each box is devoted to a particular woman and consists of an affective portrait and a collage created with elements from her biography. The stories of women are very diverse and therefore they become a universal story of female fighters against a military coup who fought under the slogan: For Your Freedom and Ours.” The performance is based on the archives, autobiographies and memories of the protagonists of her work.

After the performance, works from the exhibition Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds were presented to the audience by the participating artists: Anastasia Sosunova (LT), Eléonore de Montesquiou (FR/EE), Jaana Kokko (FIN), Laima Kreivytė (LT), Lia Dostlieva & Andrii Dostliev (UA/PL), Matīss Gricmanis (LV), Quinsy Gario & Mina Ouaouirst (NL), Paulina Pukytė (LT/GB) and Vika Eksta (LV).