Dziugas Katinas

Dziugas Katinas is a performance artist and filmmaker, as well as the organizer of several significant performance art events and festivals in Lithuania. At the beginning of his artistic career, he was a member of Zalias Lapas, or Green Leaf, an artistic group that began working and creating performances in Vilnius right around the time that Post Ars was working in Kaunas. Zalias Lapas was formed in 1988, was active until around 1992-93 and consisted of Gediminas Urbonas and Dziugas Katinas, with Gintaras Sodeika, Aidas Bareikis, and Linas Liandzbergis participating. Their name was actually given to them by the press, in reference to the environmental concerns they showcased in their work.

One of the first large-scale performances that Green Leaf did was called The Way, on December 10, 1990 – international human rights day. Dziugas describes this period, during the late-1980s and early 1990s, as the time when “anything was possible.” The old regime was on its way out, but the new one had not yet taken hold. Everything was in a state of chaos and uncertainty, the result being that rules were relaxed, because perhaps they hadn’t yet been created. The performance took place on the main city square in the center of Vilnius, right in front of the Town Hall. In front of the building, they set up some metal sculptures, and figures in hazmat suits spread sand and coal in lines on the road. As the cars drove along the road that passes between the square and the Town Hall, their wheels picked up the sand and coal and “distributed” it through the city, so the cars become the consumer of art. Quite accidentally, after the performance Vilnius witnessed the first snowfall of the season. This meant that not only was the coal spread through the city, but that it splashed on buildings and walls, which made it more difficult to clean up than the artists had anticipated.

Dziugas told me about a number of influencing factors on the development of performance art as well as the development of Green Leaf in general. For example, they began their work with installations, and once created a performance during a break in a folk music festival, which they enacted on the installation. Furthermore, he told me about one of the first sound poets in Lithuania, Sigitas Geda, who wrote poetry and created sounds based on the impressions of his surroundings. He recited one of his poems in a church, and it specifically responded to the architecture there. This was shown on television, as Dziugas recalls, and it made an impression, at least on him.

A number of Green Leaf’s performances were done on the sand dunes of the Curonian Spit – a narrow peninsula of land that is actually a sand dune, and a UNESCO world heritage site. Up on the dunes the landscape is other-worldly, and creating the video performances there adds to the eerie atmosphere of the pieces. For example, in Perception (1990), four figures walk along the beach blindfolded, tied with a rope at the waist, which is connected to a post. As they walk, the rope becomes wrapped around the post, which brings them closer to it. The figures almost appear to be walking on the surface of the moon, or at least across a post-apocalyptic landscape.

Since his days with Zalias Lapas, Dziugas has continued to work as a performance artist, but is also known for organizing several important performance art festivals in Lithuania, namely, a series of festivals entitled “Dimension.” The first one, entitled “Body and Dimension” took place in 1995, following by “Dimension 0” in 1997 and “Dimension 1,” in 2006.