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Martynas Černiauskas "New Vasiuki"

January 3–23

Exhibition opening – January 8th, 5 pm

Curator – Martyna Jurkevičiūtė

Martynas‘ Černiauskas‘ Naujieji Vasiukai (New Vasiuki) is a photo documentation of a quaint Lithuanian seaside resort. The new generation artist attempts at capturing the townscape of Šventoji. Nearly a decade ago, prior to the Global Financial Crisis, a development boom was taking over the country and Šventoji was no exception. The tiny coastal town became an involuntary participant in a utopian expansion project. Consequently, the current townscape resembles a hodgepodge of derelict soviet-era holiday homes, glass high-rises and abandoned developments.

One of the latter was started back in 2007. Going by the name of "Sea Homes" and situated in an ecologically sensitive area between Šventoji River and the Baltic Sea, it was supposed to become a complex of 22 luxury residences. A small marina was in the plans as well. Residences and the marina were to be finished in 2009 and 2013, respectively. Unfortunately, due to worldwide economic recession the project was soon halted. The partially finished buildings have since stood still.

In 2016, a new real estate developer acquired rights to the project. It was renamed "Panorama of the Sea". Developers announced optimistic plans of finishing 8 of the 22 buildings by the end of 2018. As of October, 2018 the project's website das been offline for at least 3 months. Last spring, when the photos were taken, only a couple of bodyguards were patrolling the premises and no construction work was taking place - the residences were mothballed.

The aforementioned marina shares a similar fate. Its realisation has taken well over two decades and in this case it wasn't private entities, but the State that was responsible. The first marina projects appeared in 1989, however due to disagreements between Port of Klaipėda and Palanga municipalities, no action was taken. After Lithuania joined the EU back in 2004, marina plans resurged hoping to utilise EU funds for the construction. Successfully opened in 2011, the tiny port was filled with sand by the sea in a matter of two days and closed. Furthermore, the poorly implemented project no longer qualifies for additional financial aid from the EU.

The satirical New Vasiuki name was chosen by the artist, referencing the Russian comedy masterpiece "The 12 Chairs" written by Ilya Ilf and Yevgenyi Petrov and the utopia depicted in the book. Investigating the cases of both projects, Martynas Černiauskas attempts to highlight sociological and environmental issues of unsustainable development. Despite bright plans for the residence complex, it's been stagnating for over 10 years now. Paradoxically, a smaller new complex is already being built just next-door to "Panorama of the Sea".

Keeping optimistic in this case is rather difficult. Even if "Panorama of the Sea" can be resurrected, one can't help but wonder - what need would the residences serve? Littered with "1 night 5 euros" soviet relics which lack basic amenities, does Šventoji still serve as some utopian real estate destination with rooftop pools and marinas that have been under construction for the last 29 years?

New Vasiuki spaceport for travel and cargo!

Flights starting in 2040!


Martynas Černiauskas