Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas

Jutempus was the name of the first artist-run exhibition space in Vilnius. It was founded in 1993 by the artists Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, who have worked together since 1997 on projects, which all are concerned with Lithuanian society in the post-communist age. In one of their continuous investigations and exhibition projects, Transaction, they explore how the transition from Soviet-state to capitalist society affects the psyche. And as a consequence of the fact that women often are absent in public space, the Urbonases have especially focused on how the changes have affected Lithuanian women.

The project Transaction is named after a certain psychoanalytical method, Transactional Analysis, which the artists are inspired by. The method is based on a triangular model, which includes the three roles we all play during our lives – victim, persecutor and defender. In the Urbonases’ version, the triangular model consists of women, psychoanalysts and a media archive. Through the different phases of the project, the three units are connected, and it becomes possible to talk about the mental shifts in the Lithuanian society at a more general level.

For the first Transaction in Vilnius, the artists had invited women from different generations and professions to a conversation, which started out from Lithuanian cult-films, in which women play a central role. The next phase involved a number of Lithuanian specialists in Transactional Analysis, who discussed the film sequences the women had referred to in the initial conversation. Through this process, the psychoanalysts tried to analyse the collective unconscious layer that the films and the conversations brought to the fore. The point is that it is possible via new and old media, such as the films, to put forward a common paradigm, with which one can compare the psychological condition in earlier times with the situation today. It would for example, be possible to see what effect it has on the individual when the society performs the role of the victim. Seen more broadly, the project is also a way for the Urbonases to participate in changing the dysfunctional behaviour pattern and the petrified condition that they find characteristic of the ‘client’, Lithuania.

Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas’ project for Populism concerns an aspect of Lithuania, which on the contrary is very dynamic, namely the expanding privatisation process. Private corporations continually buy public squares, sports centres, playgrounds, cultural centres and cinemas and transform them into expensive business areas or expensive residential areas. Collaborating with the biggest cinema in Lithuania, the Urbonases want to reclaim the public space by inviting everybody to voice their protest and disobedience in Cinema Lietuva where recording devices for ‘Public Access Space TV’ are set up during the upcoming film festival. During the exhibition period the lab will function as an archive of the various forms of protests. Cinema Lietuva in itself symbolises the situation. The cinema is already bought and luxury apartments are planned at the site.

By Pernille Albrethsen, translated by Eva May