Lithuanian Culture Institute and Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius present a short film “Jewish Vilnius in the works of artist Eglė Ridikaitė” (directed by Mikas Žukauskas, music composed by Arturas Bumšteinas).
This film offers a glimpse into the work of Lithuanian artist Eglė Ridikaitė and her distinct way of speaking about difficult histories. The artist’s painting series We Are Guests depicts the uncovered fragments of the Great Synagogue of Vilna and is a rare instance of tackling collective memory and Jewish heritage in Lithuanian contemporary art. Eglė’s paintings depict the bima floor as well as different historical architectural layers, which are not immediately perceived as part of the local Jewish history, but arguably should be due to their unique location. Enquiries into this presence and absence by contemporary artists have been significantly contributing to discussions on collective memory and its contemporary mapping in Vilnius and other places.
The film features Egle Ridikaite in her studio, which is located in a typical Soviet kindergarten building erected in the 1970s on the remains of the Great Synagogue. Curator Ūla Tornau provides an informative commentary on the story of Eglė’s painting series that is complemented by urban researcher Darius Pocevičius who takes us on a short, guided tour along one street and across those different layers of Vilnius’ history – the Jewish history, the Soviet history and contemporary time.
Eglė Ridikaitė (b. 1966) is a Lithuanian conceptual painter who has developed an individual technique that combines methods from graffiti and traditional painting. Since the 1990s she has been actively exhibiting in Lithuania and abroad. Her work has been acquired by the Lithuanian National Gallery of Art, the Modern Art Centre of Lithuania, the Estonian Embassy, and numerous private collections across Lithuania and abroad. In 2020 she received the highest Lithuanian National Culture and Arts Award for highlighting the importance of cultural heritage in contemporary painting.
The film was directed by Mikas Žukauskas and commissioned by the Lithuanian Culture Institute in cooperation with Lithuanian cultural attachés and the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius.
The works interpreting the bimah (pulpit) from the excavation of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius are used through the courtesy of the ‘Vilna Great Synagogue and Shulhoyf Research Project’ directed by Jon Seligman (Israel Antiquities Authority); Zenonas Baubonis and Justinas Račas (VšĮ “Kultūros paveldo išsaugojimo pajėgos”) and Richard Freund (University of Hartford).