Urbonas Studio’s Pro-test Lab Archive at The Missing Planet Exhibition

Collection for Work and Rebellion by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas in collaboration with Sandra Straukaitė, 2004.
ACT at MIT

Nov 08, 2019 – September 13, 2020

Pro-test Lab Archive
by Urbonas Studio at the Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Italy

Gediminas Urbonas, Associate Professor
Nomeda Urbonas, ACT Research Affiliate

The Pro-test lab archive by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas is on view at The Missing Planet Exhibition curated by Marco Scotini and Stefano Pezzato at Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Italy.

The Pro-test lab archive is an installation that brings together documents and props related to series of events reclaiming public space in the city of Vilnius, Lithuania—in particular, to keep the city’s largest cinema, Lietuva, from being demolished (2005-2012). With overlapping artistic and social actions this intervention into Lithuania’s neo-liberal development processes was conceived as a multi-layered, multi-year organizational structure, addressing memory, trauma and emotions attached to the destruction of public space, while combining public discussions, exhibitions, a media channel, performances, an educational program, a series of petitions and even legal actions, all calling into question development policies and territorial planning.

The art practice woven in and through the Pro-test Lab advocates for a non-representational mode of critical spatial praxis that is not driven toward a singular outcome. Rather, it develops as a network of valencies rendered as the project unfolds—relationships between tangible and intangibles objects, spheres of action and contexts. To understand such complex networks of relations, a speculative model of “emotional infrastructure” was developed. Next to energy, transportation, telecommunication, water supply, waste management and other conventional types of infrastructures, the “emotional infrastructure” draws on difference, suggesting that in the search for alternatives to a restrictive economic rationality, it could model cultural and critical forms of civic engagement, incorporating senses, memory, human rights, dignity, safety, and certainty. Such a hypothetical infrastructure would carry with it implications of play, exercise, and experiment with and through artistic forms of non-violent social and cultural engagement and participation as complex systems that are alternatives to formal planning and city development. This research seeks to contribute to the knowledge about models and methods of organization that, through art, produce and sustain public-ness, transform conflict, reinforce societal bonds, and re-establish “soul in the city.”

View the Pro-test Lab timeline here.

About the exhibition
The Missing Planet opens a new series of exhibitions that occur semi-annually, conceived by the director, Cristiana Perella and dedicated to developing the themes, time periods and languages of Centro Pecci’s collection, each time entrusting the curatorship of the exhibition to an invited expert under the guise of guest curator while supported by the head of collections and archives, Stefano Pezzato.

The curation of this first exhibition is entrusted to Marco Scotini, who started from the dozens of works in Centro Pecci’s collection, incorporating them with works from important collections and Italian and international institutes, to construct a ‘galaxy’ of  principal artistic research results developed in the former Soviet republics, from Russia to the Baltic, Caucasian and central Asian provinces, from the 1970s to today.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent dissolution of the USSR, the question of how the world has changed throughout the decades without the radical alternative that the Soviets’ Country represented for seventy years cannot be avoided. Neither can the question of how the idea of time has changed in the dissolution of, if not History in general, then that history: modern, progressive, finite, and of the meta-narratives. What then must have appeared as a new beginning, in fact, had little in the way of goals, since it would have meant the negation of the so-called East (of its values) in favour of a claim (expansion) of the West that, from that moment, would have been omnipresent and omnipotent. In the current cosmic space, in which the stars of ‘capitalism’ are free to move through their own orbits without pressure or friction from alien bodies, does it make sense to go back to the red planet? Does it make sense to wonder if a large chunk of time has now disappeared from the horizon or if, furthermore, it was never there – just like what history would want rewind from its past up until the October Revolution?

The Missing Planet exhibition curated by Marco Scotini and Stefano Pezzato, exhibition design by Can Altay.

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