On this Side of the Unknown
by Jurgita Sprindžiūnienė
8th International Artist’s Book Triennial Vilnius 2018
Theme: “Memento Mori“
Time: 19 July – 23 September 2018
Location: The Martynas Mazvydas National Library of Lithuania, Vilnius, Lithuania
Since July 19th, the “8th International Artist’s Book Triennial Vilnius 2018” exposition is open in Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library exhibition hall, in Vilnius. The triennial is an international project, started in 1997 and thanks to the consistent efforts of its curator Kęstutis Vasiliūnas it has developed to a significant event, annually expected in various cities of the world. Only a part of the selected books was brought to the exhibition in Vilnius. The whole collection will be demonstrated in the triennial expositions in various countries in the period of the next two years. Part of the selected works has already been demonstrated in Leipzig Book Fair and in Festival “Urbino e le Città del Libro” (“Urbino and Towns of the Books”) in Urbino, Italy. In 2019, expositions of the triennial will be arranged in “SG” gallery in Venice, “Museo Leone” in Vercelli, Italy, “Evanston Art Center” in Evanston and “Fredonia State University” in USA.
The name of the triennial Memento Mori and its exposition in the particular space of Lithuanian National Library created a special possibility to complement modern exhibits with some antique editions and thus to increase educational value of the event. Therefore artist’s books can be viewed together with books of the libraries repository of the 16th-19th century on the topic of death: ars morendi (art of dying) tractates, funeral sermons, mournful missals. A large enough number of the visitors came to the opening of the exhibition, thus witnessing, that the artist’s book has become recognized by the people as an interesting area of interdisciplinary creation. It also has value for those interested with historical editions. As a whole of the old and the new, it represents succession of thoughts of our predecessors and its spread today. Ancient tractates are not simply lying near the modern exhibits but they are also living within them as many of the authors have infused the ancient texts and symbols into their books, realizing new metaphors of the words and images.
Possibly the topic of the exhibition has appointed the will to draw wisdom from cultural layers of the whole world. Could somebody name a more essential, more mysterious and more concerning question to everyone than memento mori, death and life in the face of death? Form of the artist’s book is very favorable to discuss the mentioned topics because of its freedom, openness to experiment, to make it very personal, encoded, intimate, as well as its facility to universalize personal thoughts, to invoke universally recognizable signs, images, texts, objects and even entire world of sensual colors, forms and factures. Symbolic apprehension of the book itself encompasses cultural meanings of both life and death: ongoing life being depicted as history in the process of being written, and passed life as a closed book.
Aesthetical forms aside, the inner structure of the exposition is built through a number of subtopics that come together and comprise its overall theme.
Memento – a personal sense of an ending leading to an unavoidable feeling of sadness. It is probably the most common experience and painfully stinging perception of death, reflected by many of the exhibits of the triennial.
The Main Sponsor of the Project: Lithuanian Council for Culture
© Text: Jurgita Sprindžiūnienė
© Photo: Kęstutis Vasiliūnas
© Circle “Bokartas”, Kęstutis Vasiliūnas