Dainis Liskevicius

I wasn’t able to meet with Dainis Liskevicius when I was in Vilnius, however I was able to watch a number of his video performances at the Center for Contemporary Art. What impressed be about his work was the manner in which he fully engages his body in his work. For example, in a short performance entitled It is the First One, it is the Last One, the artist, dressed smartly in a suit, tie, and sunglasses, lights up a cigarette, takes a really powerful drag on it, removes his sunglasses, puts on a helmet, and runs himself into the wall, which knocks him down. Similarly, in 30 Times, the artist, again in a suit, crawls around the edge of an Oriental rug on his arms and legs until he reaches the point of complete exhaustion, at which point he gets up and puts his shoes back on. Restart, from 2000, involves the artist melting a chocolate bar and covering his face with it, after which he wipes it off with the Lithuanian flag. According to Jonas Valakevicius, the artist claimed that this was his double acting on his behalf.

The artist’s installations engage the viewer by either inviting him in or repelling him. For example, they were invited into the artist’s home in Imitation of Daily Life, a piece done in conjunction with Flat 99, a project where artists opened their homes to the general public. However, In/Out was an installation of a glass cube in the gallery space, with automatic doors, typical to modern day shopping centers that started appearing in Vilnius in the 1990s, except that these doors would close when the viewer approached.

One of the artist’s earliest performances, in 1996, involved him becoming the weathervane on the tower of Kaunas Castle. Whereas in this performance he placed himself above humankind, acting as a weather and wind gauge, in more recent performances, from the Centres of the World/Enjoy Yourself project, which he began in 1999, the artist holds the world up by standing on his head. Depending on your orientation, this could be understood to mean that he has the whole world in his hands.