Unresolved Composition / Shards and Echoes of Time

Team: Office De Architectura
Graphic design: Juozapas Švelnys
Curator (Unresolved Composition): Indrė Urbelytė
Curators (Shards and Echoes of Time): Renata Kovalčiukienė, Virginija Semėnaitė
Client: National Museum of Lithuania
Photo: Norbert Tukaj
Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Year: 2023

In 2024 the main facility of the Lithuanian National Museum – New Arsenal will close for a major renovation. We were invited to create architecture for two final exhibitions overtaking the whole building and replacing all the permanent collections – the biggest change in over 50 years. Over the years the building has changed and served different ideological purposes while the two exhibitions focused on themes of propaganda and censorship. There was unease, unspoken tension and a sense of something unfinished surrounding the works exhibited, the themes of the exhibitions and the building itself. We focused on these uncomfortable senses and created an exhibition space which was slightly too empty, felt unfinished at times or even robbed.

More about two exhibitions:

The label “Unresolved Composition” was a favourite one used by Soviet art censors to criticize the level of a given artwork or an interpretation that failed to tow the official ideological line. In the context of this exhibition, the phrase refers to the complex circumstances of artistic life in occupied Lithuania, the distorted accents of the Soviet-era historical narrative, and the conflicts of our own scarred memory. This exhibition deconstructs the visual propagandistic narrative of the “Great Patriotic War”, as it was embodied in the artworks of Soviet Lithuania.

Shards and Echoes of Time: Soviet Censorship in the Work of Rimantas Dichavičius is a case study of an “unresolved composition”, illustrating the crossroads and challenges of creative work in the Soviet era. The art created by Rimantas Dichavičius from the 1960s to the 1980s was often banned and criticized by Soviet censors and, when it did succeed in passing screening filters without encountering obstacles, it was very often partially distorted by the artist’s self-censorship. This exhibition displays the work of Rimantas Dichavičius in three sections: in photographs banned by censors, in works subjected to criticism and correction by censors, and in work deemed suitable by the rules of Soviet censorship.