Simonas Kairys: “Urbonas’ A Planet of People, opening in Venice, encourages us to keep exercising our imagination”


2021 05 21


Starting tomorrow, the Lithuanian pavilion will await visitors at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. This year our country is represented at the event by the artist Julijonas Urbonas, who established a fictional Lithuanian Space Agency and created A Planet of People.

Congratulating the artist Julijonas Urbonas, the Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys says that the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2021 is a long-awaited event for the entire world of culture and arts, but it is particularly significant to Lithuania.

“For the second time, we will present ourselves independently at this prestigious event and will have the opportunity to demonstrate that it is not the country’s size but the creativity and talent of its people that are the factors determining success in the Olympic games of imagination and ideas.

The 17th international Venice Biennale of Architecture is also a great opportunity to turn back, review and evaluate the Lithuanian creators’ achievements in Venice. Three years ago, we were delighted by the project curated by Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, which took place in the biennale of architecture: the experimental laboratory Swamp School. A year later, the Venice Biennale of Architecture became a historical event to our country when the opera-performance Sun & Sea by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Lina Lapelytė and Vaiva Grainytė won the Golden Lion. The ideas and imagination of our country’s creators resonate in international waters, and they are able to look at global problems and challenges in their own, authentic way.

It is my belief that the ideas of Julijonas Urbonas, who will represent Lithuania in the Venice Biennale of Architecture this year, will resonate as well. I congratulate the artist with this honour and responsibility that have befallen him. The question of how we will live together in the post-pandemic world is becoming a relevant one beyond the boundaries of the biennale. In order to find a constructive answer, which would be based on the principles of sustainability, harmony and aesthetics, we will unavoidably have to turn to the intersections between science, art, and imagination. In this respect, Urbonas is an exceptional artist not only in the context of Lithuanian art. His previously implemented projects leave a strong impression due to the author’s graceful juggling of the principles of design, engineering, philosophy, and kinetic art. The artist’s constant negotiations with gravity keep opening new areas of considerations and possibilities for the audience. It is probably logical that, sooner or later, these negotiations had to raise Urbonas’ audience’s eyes towards space. Even if, actually, according to the artist himself, we are too down-to-earth to make sense of space, we can consider the attempt to defeat this overly dense “down-to-earthness” to be the new mission of the Lithuanian Space Agency.

I hope that this mission will successfully reach its goal and A Planet of People will become an impulse – not just for the international community of the biennale of architecture but also for all of us – to keep expanding the boundaries of our knowledge and interests and to continue exercising our imagination”. 

The interactive architectural installation will be available at the Church of Santa Maria dei Derelitti in Venice until 21 November.

Photo by Lithuanian Space Agency