Ist das Leben nicht schön? Chapter 3. Arturas Raila: Power of the Earth

27.09.2006 — 26.11.2006

Opening: September 26, 2006, 7 pm

Would you not like to know about the power fields below your feet?

In his work, the Lithuanian artist Arturas Raila (*1962) uses mostly photography and video. He explores segments of society that seem to be detached from ordinary mainstream culture in order to open up new perspectives on what is perceived as common sense.

Power of the Earth was Raila’s first solo exhibition in Germany, for which he presented three closely related projects that have been developed continuously during the last few years. One of these was created especially for the show in the Frankfurter Kunstverein.
“Power of the Earth” (2005-6) is the pivotal work of the exhibition. The project is the result of a two-year collaboration with Vaclovas Mikailionis and Villius Gibavicius. They are experts in Geopathic Energy and come from rural Lithuania, leading figures of the emerging alternative communities in Lithuania that are organised around the search for a better understanding of our environment. They use folk knowledge to locate and map energy fields in the Earth, as they will also do in and around the Frankfurter Kunstverein. In the exhibition a series of beautiful and mysterious photos taken in the Lithuanian countryside have been shown, as well as an ‘energy map’ of the Frankfurt city centre where the Kunstverein is located. This map represents the development of a different reading of the cityscape we are part of.

The Frankfurter Kunstverein was especially pleased to have the regional energy provider in the Frankfurt area, Mainova, as partner for this exhibition project. The collaboration could hardly be more appropriate to pursue an open dialogue about the question of the resources of our Earth and the possibilities for their usage. The artistic examination of a traditional and alternative understanding of energy can thus have a positive influence on the creative perspective on future prospects.

Primitive Sky (2002/2006) consists of a series of five photos and a short video. The project originates in an experience the artist had in the late 1970s when he claims to have seen some strange lights moving in the sky in a small town in western Lithuania. He saw the phenomenon five times afterwards, he claims. What matters is not any rational explanation for these light phenomena; more important is the relationship established between what he explains and what we believe when we hear it. The work invites us to make our own conclusions about the psychological implications of a story that revolves around the supernatural. Is he serious? Did it happen? The answers to these questions are not revealed, rather the viewer is left to make his or her own mind up.

“…forever lacking, never quite enough…“ (2001) is a video installation consisting of two big projections and a plasma monitor. One screen shows an “artist‘s cut” of archival newsreels and propaganda films from the different occupations of Lithuania in the 1940s. On the monitor we see a famous Lithuanian poet, who explains these historical images. The German transscription of his words run on the second projection. This work establishes a direct dialogue with the two others shown in the exhibition. It deals with the themes of the social developments of a changing society, as well as the different narratives that separate “History” from “Story”.

The three different projects that constitute the exhibition propose a way of expanding institutional structures by introducing specific interest groups into the exhibitionary context, such as here the field of folk knowledge from rural Lithuania. By exploring particular cases, communities and situations, Arturas Raila invites the viewer to reflect upon what is considered mainstream and marginal, the relationship between the new and the traditional, the rational and the esoteric.

Curator: Chus Martínez