Simonas Kairys at the opening of Kaunas 2022 programme: “We are architects of urban changes who play the role of both archaeologists and visionaries”


2022 01 21


The Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys attended the opening of William Kentridge’s exhibition That Which We Do Not Remember at the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art today. The exhibition is one of the most important parts of the programme of Kaunas 2022.

“Even though the grand opening of Kaunas – the European Capital of Culture will happen tomorrow, everything starts here and now, on the highest possible note. Here, at the wonderful Čiurlionis-like crown, which remembers the inter-war Kaunas and its turn towards modernity. Here, where a thin wall separates war and art. Here, where the venerable William Kentridge provokes us to examine that which we do not remember”, the Minister of Culture said.

Addressing the audience, the minister remembered the late Professor Leonidas Donskis, who also contributed to the basis of the programme of Kaunas – the European Capital of Culture. The professor had called the period we are living in the battlefield of struggle between memory and oblivion. According to Simonas Kairys, everyday trivialities, prominent figures and painful or joyful events disappear very quickly on this field.

“Still, city is the cultural fabric which covers us with memories. Its striking buildings, parallel streets, parks, fountains and, of course, cultural traditions speak to us in the voices of those who had lived before. It is them, the former people of Kaunas, in whose name the city addresses us today and invites us to remember. Those who created, built, sought light here, those who wanted to immortalise themselves in the city and make the city immortal. This is possible when the shared goal is more important than the differences, when the love of one’s city and country unites more than the views or cultural contexts divide. This is illustrated very well by this building as well: the work of three talented architects Karolis Reisonas, Vladimiras Dubeneckis and Kazimieras Kriščiukaitis.

We must remember these and other progenitors in order to be able to continue designing the future of the city, while at the same time being able to look at eternity. Moreover, we must do it sensitively, while responding to the changes in the community, the society and the world. The city will also change many more times: it is unavoidable. However, today we are the architects of its changes. At the same time, we are assigned the role of memory archaeologists, visionaries, and futurists”, Simonas Kairys said.

The Minister of Culture thanked William Kentridge for his invitation to take a trip around memory: “This exhibition is not only a high ambition of the programme of the European Capital of Culture, not only a bar raised high, but also an introduction to the symphony of memory which will keep playing in Kaunas for the entire year. Let’s try to hear it. Meanwhile, I wish for the team of Kaunas – European Capital of Culture and all Kaunas residents to say not just “Welcome” but also “Welcome back” as frequently as possible this year.