Questioning societal norms and behaviours is an instrumental tool for unearthing vulnerabilities and new perspectives. This adaptive mechanism has historically facilitated survival and adjustment to changing environmental circumstances. Simultaneously, it entails apprehension and discomfort. It’s perhaps for this reason that self-criticism is often viewed as destructive and detrimental to the human psyche, and it is suggested it should be replaced by self-compassion. Justas Kažys believes that nowadays many individuals find themselves mired in a facade of feigned tolerance and insincere compassion. By abstaining from self-examination, succumbing to laziness, or possibly failing to perceive ourselves as interconnected within the fabric of the universe, we confine our self-perception. Justas embarks on a journey of introspection and self-critique, exploring personal boundaries – physical, spiritual, social, and their connection to nature and the universe. Through prose poetry and visual artworks, he probes non-conformity to established norms, social injustice, the value of unity, and the fears associated with embracing it, as he departs from his scientific persona. His reflections on the interplay between the individual, society, and the environment are laced with irony. Justas highlights the necessity of a critical approach to acknowledge personal limitations.
Engaging in critical introspection extends beyond individual behavioral patterns, encompassing the broader societal context and its implications for the planet. Alisa Palavenis, a scientist and environmental activist, has transitioned into an artist’s role to raise queries pertinent not only to her, but to all – concerning each person’s role and responsibility in shaping the world filled with plastic (Terra Plastica) we inhabit. Her ironic and grotesque creations, crafted from discarded plastic caps collected from cafes and waste gathered along the shore, prompt contemplation on the trajectory of “disposability” and the remnants of human (un)culture. This line of thought compels Alisa to reflect on whether our treatment of the material realm influences our own existence. Could it be that our lives, too, have become disposable in some sense? Alternatively, could the waste of our times eventually transform into the treasures of a new era, with people eagerly collecting the curious formations unearthed after a storm? For now, it all remains the residue of human presence on Earth, bearing witness to the ecological challenges of the Anthropocene and beyond.
About the authors:
Both exhibiting artists have their roots in the realm of science. Justas Kažys, a climatologist and associate professor at Vilnius University, has dedicated his scientific pursuits to climate change. While Justas has written numerous essays and scientific articles, but his first poems were written 5 years ago. During this time, he has already produced three collections of “prosetry” and participated in group exhibitions at galleries such as Arka (“[up]rooting”) or NDG (“Urban Nature: Starting with Vilnius”).
Alisa Palavenis, with a PhD in chemistry and a background in pharmacy, has taken on the roles of environmental activist and artist. Since 2019 she has been developing her skills in courses organised by VDA. In Lithuania, she has already held three solo painting exhibitions and more than ten eco-photography exhibitions, including a painting exhibition at the Aidas Gallery (“Alisa’s Miraclemorphosis”), and eco-photography exhibitions at the Seimas of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (“To Lift Up or to Leave – Nobody’s waste in the Wilderness”) and the Ministry of the Environment of the Republic of Lithuania (“An Exile into Foreverness”).