For its third season, from October 3, 2023, to June 30, 2024, FOROF – a space dedicated to the dialogue between contemporary art and archaeology founded by Giovanna Caruso Fendi - presents BALTIC ADVENTURE, a site-specific project by Lithuanian artist Augustas Serapinas (Vilnius – Lituania, 1990), who recreates an alarming future, the result of the devastating effects of global warming.
Curated by Ilaria Gianni, the exhibition BALTIC ADVENTURE, made of evocations and connections, aims to be a warning about the problem of climatic instability and an invitation to act in favor of the environment.
Serapinas recontextualizes his work Mudmen in relation to FOROF’s archaeological site: figures similar to snowmen - however, made of straw and mud - will inhabit the ancient Roman Forum, like presences that warn us about a dystopian future more likely than we imagine.
Mudmen was born in 2020 as an evolution of the Snowmen project, which required collection of real snowmen built by kids at the parks of the capital of Latvia, Riga, in January. However, that winter happened to be unusually warm, without any snow: very unusual phenomenon for that area, which eliminated any possibility of building and creating snowmen, forcing the artist to modify the initial idea of the project.
“The installation of Mudmen, in this case, has been specifically conceived for the spaces of Basilica Ulpia, in the underground level of FOROF, that is known to have been Ancient Rome’s largest assembly space” - emphasizes Augustas Serapinas - The people residing in the ancient Roman forum were not aware of our future problem. They were gathering to discuss political ideas and solve quarrels. In my installation the possible future meets the past. The snowman-like straw figures inhabit Forum to warn us. They scroll through the ruins of the past witnessing that it might be our future”.
“Augustas Serapinas” project led me to reflect on the unique reality of Rome, an unrepeatable city that retains in itself the features of the village, of the Greek polis, of the Urbe in the classical sense. - says Giovanna Caruso Fendi founder of FOROF - The artist's choice to bring to the archaeological site of the Basilica Ulpia, in the underground level of FOROF, an installation that emphasizes our responsibilities in the process of global warming gives us back to the deeper role and meaning of the Roman Forum, a place where all social, political, economic issues were discussed. Thanks to the work of Serapinas, as in ancient Rome, these spaces return to host contemporary debate, the issues of public interest, which concern the future of humanity”.
The Mudmen installation is accompanied by other works - ruins of wooden houses from the Baltic States, from which the exhibition's title originates, specially designed for FOROF, and glass windows - taken from an old wooden Lithuanian home and fused together with pigment made by the artist using parts of the same house.
As with previous projects, BALTIC ADVENTURE is also accompanied by Episodi program, conceived and realized by curator Ilaria Gianni. Starting from December will activate the space with events that will deepen the themes explored by Serapinas' work and the artist's poetics, accompanied by a food and wine selection by Rimessa Roscioli.
Thanks to APalazzo Gallery.
Reimagining and restaging spaces complicates and problematizes the assumptions that circumscribe them – not
only in the context of the art institution but also in respect to the more general systematic infrastructures that bind
them. Such considerations constitute the fundamental tenets of Augustas Serapinas’ practice. On the one hand,
recomposing spaces as saturated and self-referential portraits of the art institution’s inner workings, questions
the order, organization and agenda of conventional displays of art. Frequently, the museum itself is put on
display in a gesture that embroils the institution’s naturalized function and exposes it as an enigmatic structure
that belies its white-walled transparency.
On the other hand, inverting the customary functions of architectural structures allows Serapinas to restage
physical expanses in a way that troubles the hierarchical systems by which we confer meaning upon them.
Granting the public access to such reinvented and manipulated caveats effects not only social commentary or an account of institutional norm, but articulates a complex site for the reformulation of subjectivity itself. In
excavating obscure spaces, Serapinas repositions us in our relationality to the spaces we inhabit. Our
naturalized perceptions and expectations of architectural structure and space are uprooted by this new
positionality, allowing the artist to orchestrate these spaces as pockets of subjectivity that question not only how
we orient ourselves within and towards them but also how this engenders or stops up social interactions.
Interested in the relational and non-material practices of the early 1990s, Serapinas interrogates spatiality as a
means of exploring the notion of the encounter – as opportunity, act or phenomenon – and its implications for
processes of identity-formation. In revealing previously undisclosed, overlooked or unoccupied spaces as
curious intermediaries that, in their revelation, assume new purposes and functionality, the viewer is encouraged
to consider novel possibilities of identifying oneself vis-à-vis those who also populate these areas.
Augustas Serapinas (b. 1990 in Vilnius, Lithuania) lives and works in Vilnius. He studied at the Vilnius Academy
of Arts (Vilnius, LT). Exhibitions include 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, RU, 2015; How To
Live Together, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, AT, 2017; Four Sheds, Fogo Islands Art, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017;
Everything Was Forever, Until it Was No More, RIBOCA1, Riga Biennial of Contemporary Art, Riga, LV, 2018;
Give Up The Ghost, Baltic Triennial 13, Vilnius, LT, 2018; Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen, DE, 2018; May You Live
in Interesting Times, curated by Ralph Rugoff, 58th Venice Biennale, Venezia, IT, 2019, RIBOCA2: Riga
International Biennial of Contemporary Art curated by Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, Riga, LV, 2020, Diana, CCA
Tel Aviv, IL, 2021, Art Basel: Parcours, Basel, CH, 2021; Toronto Biennal, 2022; Re-apprearing Imagineries Misk
Art Institute, Ryadh, Saudi Arabia, 2022.