On 26 November 2022, at 3 pm, KAUNAS PHOTO festival will host the presentation of the exhibition “Hiding Places of the Mythical Beast in Photographic Cross-Sections of Kaunas Modernism” and a meeting with the project’s curator Mindaugas Kavaliauskas and the New Zealand artist Chirag Jindal, who will be in Kaunas for one day. During the event, the audience will be introduced to the uniquely created iconography of Kaunas modernism, with a new approach to the medium of photography and a night-time experience of the exhibition for the visitors. The event will start at 3 p.m. in the Stephenson Hall of the BLC Business Centre (K. Donelaičio Str. 60, Building A, 1st floor), and from there, the whole audience will go on a tour of the outdoor exhibition, which will be displayed in the form of lightboxes in the adjacent Vienybės Square. The exhibition “Hiding Places of the Mythical Beast in Photographic Cross-Sections of Kaunas Modernism” will run until January 8. The exhibition will be accompanied by events. The event is part of “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” official closing “Act III of the Trilogy: THE CONTRACT”. The event is free of charge and open to the public.
In 2019, Mindaugas Kavaliauskas travelled to the InterPhoto festival in Bialystok with his solo exhibition “A-Spot”. Visiting the exhibition of the InterPhoto 2019 Grand Prize Candidates, Kaunas-based photographer and curator made his prediction that the prize would be won by an artist from New Zealand, who surrealistically depicted Auckland’s cityscapes and volcanic caverns merging them in one image. The prediction was confirmed, and, instead of congratulations, the art director of the KAUNAS PHOTO festival made a creative suggestion—why wouldn’t the artist try to expose the icons of Kaunas modernist architecture in the same creative way?
In September 2021, invited by the NGO Šviesos raštas, the artist Chirag Jindal from New Zealand was already working in Lithuania. He took part in the art residency organised by the KAUNAS PHOTO festival, during which he looked deeper into the interwar architecture of Kaunas. Although the technological execution of the project was complex, it could be described in simple terms as a combination of the facades and underground spaces, invisible to the passers-by, created by 3D laser scanning technology.
According to Karolina Krinickaite, coordinator of KAUNAS PHOTO 2021, the work schedule of the creative process during the art residency was extremely challenging, not only due to the complexity of coordinating the access to historical buildings, but also due to the demanding nature of equipment. The three-dimensional laser scanner used for the project is a rare and hardly available device not only in Kaunas, but in the entire country as well, and at this stage the company Northpoint.lt was of particular help by agreeing to collaborate in the technical implementation of the project with its own 3D scanner.
In the final results, both the façade and the basement of the buildings can be seen in one single image. “Unlike photography, there is little out of frame—the section cut reveals all at once and we are presented with past and present paraphernalia as they exist in-situ“, says the artist Jindal. According to the curator of the project and the author of the idea Kavaliauskas, the artworks lift the veil of mystery and show what Kaunas residents and visitors would otherwise never see—the underworld, and its locally global stories, where the Mythical Beast of Kaunas may have been hiding since ancient times. The eleven-image exhibition, which is best seen after dark, will show a rich typology of subterranean constructions: water reservoir, engine room, prison cells, workshop, archives… And all these spaces are enveloped by the unique stories of Kaunas and Lithuania’s past.
Jindal says that architectural objects appeared to him like “time capsules collecting layers of history”. “For me the search for the ‘mythical beast’ was synonymous with the search for the story of Kaunas, remnants of which could be found in these buildings—not only the iconic facades and the overall typology—but also the artifacts inherited in their deepest recesses. Many of these basements are unchanged, either unintentionally or through museification. By making deliberate section cuts through the unseen, evidence of this layered history begin to emerge”, explains the artist.
Chirag Jindal (born 1993) is an artist-surveyor working at the intersection of documentary journalism, new media art and contemporary cartography. After graduating with his Master’s Degree in Architecture in 2016, Jindal began exploring the role of terrestrial LiDAR as an emerging medium for photographic documentation.
His developing practice seeks to document our relationship to marginalised landscapes, in order to “unravel the hidden effects, and unseen layers, of human presence.” His research-based approach brings him in collaboration with groups close to his subjects, including scientists, landowners, indigenous groups and local government. Jindal is best known for his debut project Into The Underworld – an ongoing series that has gained critical recognition, including the 2020 Royal Photographic Society Under 30’s Award and the Bialystok Interphoto Grand Prix.
Link to the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/649680206867497/
The whole programme of the European Capital of Culture Closing Ceremony on 24-27 November in Kaunas and Kaunas district: https://kaunas2022.eu/en/contract/