Journey to the Center of the Continent

Here it is –

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the geographic center of Europe.

We journeyed there, about 10 miles northeast of Vilnius, by bus and by minibus a couple days ago. There was none of the excitement of “which bus? when?” this time. Everything was well-researched and went on schedule. We are becoming Lithuanian.

(For one more week.)

Actually there are several “centers” of Europe; at least two are in Lithuania. It depends on how and who is defining “Europe.” But I imagine Lithuanians will stick to this one for a while,

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since, under the leadership of artist Gintaras Karosas, they have, since 1991, been  building and expanding a “museum of the center of Europe.” It’s about 135 acres of forest and meadows, and would be a pleasant destination just in itself, without the art.

Some samples:

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“Wall” and “Culture”, both by Karosas.

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“Drinking Structure with Exposed Kidney Pool” and “Chair-Pool”, both by American Dennis Oppenheim.

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“Sitting Policeman” by Lithuanian Evaldus Pauza, and “sitting wife” by Liz.

She was waiting for me to catch up to her so we could have coffee at the little cafe terrace in the apple orchard.

A few more:

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“Pinnochio” and “With Moustaches”, both by Evaldus Pauza.

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“Woman Looking at the Moon” by Mexican artist Javier Cruz.

Some of Liz’ favorites –

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“Space of Unknown Growth” by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz.

And Liz also especially liked these

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woodpiles, which are not just woodpiles, of course, but art: “Continuously Changing” by Karosas.

The most famous of the art installations is “LNK Infotree,” by the park’s founder, Karosas.  At present it looks like this:

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Walls of thousands of old TVs, with Lenin lying, struck down, before them.

Originally, it looked more like this –

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long, snaking corridors of TVs covered in plastic, and Lenin when he still had a hand and a head.

This remembrance of Soviet propaganda started crumbling not so long after it was installed, ironically, and what is left now are pathways of pipe

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showing where the TV walls used to be.

Walking between those walls would have been a sickening reminder of those blasts of propaganda,and even what little remains gives you a sense of today’s invading, brutalizing power of TV, internet, etc. The screens are different sizes, but they all drain your spirit.

Here I am, my spirit uplifted,

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standing between the pillars of Karosas’ “The Place.”

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These are the “Ancients” by American Blane De St. Croix.

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A pair of plastic people prone in pink polka dots – “Bye-Byes” by Lithuanian Donatas Jankauskas –

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and a “European Kayagum” by Korean artist Ko Seung-hyun. Check out various you-tube kayagum tunes.

Strange, funny, puzzling, challenging. Something for everyone.

All they’re lacking is that big muskie from Hayward, Wisconsin. It would be perfect.

 

 

 

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