THE FACTORY OF MODERN ART: THE DANGER OF VISIONARY MONOPOLY

Julija Fomina

The article replies to the polemic around the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) in which it is blamed for monopolizing the art stage in Lithuania. The term “factory” is actively used to indicate the monu­mental status of the CAC in terms of architecture as well as a large number of employees and ae wide range of exhibitions produced.

From the very start in 1992 the activities of the CAC have been mostly West-oriented and it has presented a lot of conceptual art exhi­bitions. The origins of them lie in the activities of the Soros Contem­porary Art Centre (SCAC) whose initiative gave way to first concep­tual art expositions. By the way, the SCAC then was also criticized for monopolizing the art stage and creating a false art situation in Lithuania. The cause for this criticism was in the SCAC being the only non-government institution financed by private funds and fi­nancially supporting art projects. Negative opinions of the activities in this free and competitive art market were mostly heard from the older generation, which expected a traditional exceptional social status for artists and judged the monetary investment exchange in art.

Therefore, after closing the SCAC, the CAC became res­ponsible for contemporary art processes in Lithuania and inherited most of this criticism. Not only did the factory introduce new techno­logies in art life such as curators and conceptual exhibitions but also implemented the free market rules. The CAC struggled for its right to work independently from the former owners of the Exhibition Hall and confront criticism by art critics and freelance artists. Critics attack it as a reserved institution not presenting the proper type of art, however making the quality guarantee indisputable.

The article objects that the exhibitions in the CAC have rather a narrative character than a finitive one and should be seen as a means to start a dialogue. On the other hand, freelance artists use the CAC exhibition halls due to the lack of active space for contemporary art in the country, but some of them feel „marginalized“ by the CAC.

However, the CAC as a mechanism functioning by its own inner rules in an attempt to orient in a pluralist post-productive world. Pole­mics may often lead to hyperbolization and deformation of the subject, arising the undesirable a negative tension in the art life of Lithuania.