We visited Kaunas during the Opening Weekend, which officially launched the city's programme as European Capital of Culture 2022. We got a lot of inspiration, met a lot of people and finally got to meet some of our partners live. We invite you to this amazing city full of modernist architecture and contemporary art. What to experience in Kaunas?
1. Outstanding artistic programme
Already during the Opening Weekend, people could see up to 800 artists at 50 locations. This number is more than impressive, isn’t it? However, in 2022 Kaunas will offer up to 1000 different events - more than 40 festivals, 60 exhibitions, 250 performances (more than 50 premieres) and more than 250 concerts. In total, around 500 people, 80 local and 150 international partners, 140 venues in Lithuania and around the world, 2,000 artists, 80 communities and 1,000 volunteers are involved in the preparations.
In addition to impressive numbers, exceptional artists will also impress. Yoko Ono, Wiliam Kentridge, Marina Abramović, Jonas Mekas and Robert Wilson are just a fraction of the artists who will perform in Kaunas. We experienced Yoko Ono's Ex It exhibition celebrating the power of nature. We were surprised and amazed by the unconventional location for the exhibition - they placed it in the premises of the National Bank of Lithuania, which is in regular operation during the exhibition. The installation is a powerful image of the aftermath of war or natural disaster and a reference to the resilience of nature. The Ex It exhibition is a prelude to a major retrospective exhibition, The Learning Garden of Freedom, which opens in September.
Yoko Ono's Ex It exhibition reflecting the power of nature
We also visited the exhibition That Which We Do Not Remember by William Kentridge, which reflects on his Lithuanian roots and the South African present and, above all, the selective memory of humanity.
Thousands of people, hundreds of dancers, singers, performers and installations were on the streets during the Opening Weekend. From what little we were able to see, it is clear to us that Kaunas' year-long programme as European Capital of Culture 2022 will be well worth it. For up-to-date information on the programme, visit the Kaunas 2022 website or their super clear Kaunas 2022 mobile app
2. Stage for Europe
Cooperation is a word that is not just a cliché for Kaunas. The proof is their journey that led to the title and their results. An example is the Magic Carpets Landed exhibition, in which 57 international artists participated. It is the culmination of a four-year project (Creative Europe) to raise the profile of emerging artists in collaboration with 15 partner countries. The project is led by the Kaunas Biennial. The outputs of the exhibition were the result of artist residencies of different durations. Also, the themes were very diverse, reflecting mainly current social issues such as migration, the status of women, participation, the environment and so on. We have already concluded collaboration agreements with three artists from the exhibition (Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan, Maj Horn). You can watch a short video from the exhibition on our Instagram.
The Magic Carpets Landed exhibition
Absolutely every Kaunas project combines a community, a local but also a national or international partner. This is what we like to take inspiration from in Trenčín. It is still possible to get involved in Kaunas, just follow their open calls.
3. Marvellous city
Just wander the streets and admire the modernist architecture. Yes, even an "ordinary" walk is an experience in Kaunas. You can find various thematic maps to explore the city in the local KIC or online. Even many locals have learned the stories of buildings or people previously unknown to them thanks to the ECOC. Whether you like colourful murals, medieval or modernist architecture, connections to the river or pleasant pedestrian areas, you'll find something for you in Kaunas.
Modernist architecture is also celebrated in the Modernism for the Future 360/365 exhibition at the newly established Centre for Architecture, located in the beautiful modernist former post office building. Hugo Tobon has also contributed his Subjective Atlas and is collaborating with us. He moved to the city for some time to really understand its communities or soul and to artistically process the city through the eyes of its inhabitants. As an example, you can see his Subjective Atlas of Colombia.
The Kaunas 2022 team has prepared many more surprises. For example, the opportunity to book an Airbnb in the original period design, themed walks with local cultural workers or car rides with artists. Just keep an eye on their website or social media for all the news.
If you're planning a trip, we recommend Kaunas with all ten. You can even get to Kaunas with a direct Ryanair flight from Budapest for just a few crowns. You've probably already figured out that we're pretty excited about Kaunas, so if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
Terina Slezák Barčáková
International relations Manager