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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Giving artistic significance to the geographic center of the European continent

What it feels like at work these days

Just when spring was threatening to show up (with last Sunday being sunny and pleasantly warm), winter reappeared to remind everyone it wasn't done with us quite yet. While the temperature never dropped below freezing, at the same time it never rose above 10° C (50° F), and most of the time stayed well below that this weekend. Snow was even in the forecast for Saturday morning, though in the end it only sprinkled a bit. For some strange reason, however, it just felt colder both yesterday and today than the conditions would indicate - perhaps it was the hint of spring that we were given last weekend that got our bodies to start preparing for those warm days and late sunsets that are coming very soon. The snow tires will remain on the car until the end of the month, just to be on the safe side.

Sunday's weather was no excuse to stay home and do nothing, and so we drove about half an hour from our apartment this morning to visit what has to be one the coolest (and not in the atmospheric sense of the term) places in Lithuania I've seen so far - the Europos Parkas Sculpture Park. The 50-hectare (124 acres) site started out in 1987 as the brainchild of a then-19 year-old sculptor named Gintaras Karosas, who was inspired by the location's close proximity to the geographical center of Europe. Being an open-air museum, visitors walk through wooded parkland dotted with around 90 sculptures from artists the world over (34 countries according to the pamphlet given out after paying the admission fee). The most famous exhibit is one of Karosas', LNK Infotree. At one time there were over 3000 Soviet-made TV sets forming a maze that led to a fallen statue of Vladimir Lenin, earning it a recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records as the "biggest sculpture in the world made from TV sets". Today, the weather and careless visitors has led to a sharp reduction in the number of TV's still on display, but Lenin (minus his head) and the outline of the maze are still there:





Double Negative Pyramid (1998) by the American artist Sol LeWitt:



Drinking Structure with Exposed Kidney Pool (1998) by the American artist Dennis Oppenheim:


My daughter eyes the Sitting Policeman (2005), by Lithuanian artist Evaldas Pauza:


Woman Looking at the Moon (1996) by Mexican artist Javier Cruz:


Taking a break before having lunch (Chicken Kiev) at the park's restaurant:


Amber enjoys the interactive Mobile Games, by Lithuanian artist Mindaugas Tendziagolskis. Behind her is the building housing Europos Parkas' restaurant and souvenir shop. That's my wife off to the right, eyes glued to her iPhone screen:


Karosas, the founder of Europos Parkas, has five of his works on display there. Symbol of Europas Parkas (1991) was the site's first installation. Markers on the ground around the pyramid indicate the direction of, and mark the distance in kilometers to, various European capital cities...and Wellington, New Zealand:


I couldn't reach the marker identifying this piece as it was covered under a thick cover of low-lying tree branches. The groundskeeper has got some work to do:


Space Flight (1992) by Lithuanian artist Elena Urbaitis:


Orient (1997-2004) by Italian artist Massimo Ghiotti:


My daughter the human hamster on Carousel (2005), by Lithuanian artist Marius Zavadskis. Yes, the wheel really did turn:


Not all the displays were so playful. Just across from Carousel is The Judgement of the Rapist of Europa (1994), by Dutch artist Edwin Pietersen:


I liked White (1992-2002), by Lithuanian artist Artūras Raila, because it reminded me of Soviet-era architecture:


Karosas' fortress-like Culture:



Another installation I couldn't find the name of:


Catch the Wind (2004) by the South African artist Strijdom van der Merwe:


Shu-E and Amber prop up The Wall (2009), by Karosas:


Enjoying the forest setting:


Head by Lithuanian artist Adomas Jacovskis, one of the creepiest installations. Imagine coming across this one as dusk is setting in:


ENGI (1995) by Japanese artist Yoshitada Ihara:


Axis Mundi (2005) by Lithuanian artist Saulius Vaitiekūnis:


Karosas' The Sign (2008):


My daughter and I both had the same reaction when we came across Intimate Beauty (2001), by Indian artists Vibha Galhotra and Ashish Ghosh - "Outhouse":


Karosas' The Sign (2001):


My favorite installation at Europos Parkas was Space of Unknown Growth (1998), by the Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. To me, they looked giant versions of the eggs from Alien; to a group of Mandarin-speaking visitors, they were 很可愛:




Finally, The Berlin Wall, a Fragment (2009), provided by the German Embassy in Vilnius. I'd always wanted to see the Berlin Wall, a dream that was dashed when it came down in 1989 - life can be so unfair at times (note to the sarcastically-challenged: I'm kidding):



My daughter and friend before an Easter egg hunt at the ambassador's residence on Saturday morning

Amber unscathed after an afternoon playing paintball on Saturday. Our car, on the other hand, was a muddy mess after a tortuous drive there and back over a very rough dirt road.  

My daughter's fifth-grade class went on a field trip on Monday morning to the Seimas Palace, home to Lithuania's unicameral parliament


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