Friday, June 29, 2007

view on Alytus

To give you a perfect view on Alytus I will use the text writen by Redas Diržys 2 years ago, as during this period almoust nothing has changed in general, i'll leave it intact:

"I will be concerned more on ideological and political aspects of the urbanistics and organizing of the city life. Actually the city life is kind of boring from the typical point of view - if you would like to have a good time, to enjoy tourist venues to make contacts with advanced national artists - Vilnius is very good place for that.

Especially those about half of the whole state money is staying in the capital city. So the life here is very spectacular but not in the periphery town Alytus. In fact it is not far away from Vilnius - about 100 kilometers and I will try shortly to describe what kind of the city it is. The cultural life here is almost dead. There is no any space specialized for showing the art in fact. O. k. there is a
provincial drama theater and couple of dancing collectives who are sometimes fighting between each other. Sometimes there are coming some musicians to give concerts and usually are using the State money devoted for cultural life in the periphery... Usually their appearance holds the character of rehearsal before some important events in Vilnius or abroad... But I was using to make some very decisive artistic gestures in that city and it worked pretty well - it usually takes over the national press, but unfortunately not the cultural pages of the State dailies but the front pages usually. To compare Vilnius events - usually they are highlighted in cultural pages - kind of ghetto of "wooden" and boring articles which are out of interest even from the side of professionals...

About urban conditions: Alytus is the city of absolutely crazy urbanistics. Till the end of 19th century it was just a village. In the end of 19th century there started to appear first brick houses – mostly so called Jewish architecture (houses build by Jewish community for their shops, bakeries, pubs and so on). Afterwards Russians build numerous military fortifications in the city (the city was on the frontier of Russian Empire with Prussia). A lot of fires burned almost all the wooden houses witch were gradually replaced with brick houses, but the city all the time remained militant. After the WW2 almost all the city was destroyed. All the new houses were very typical to that period when they were build: in 50-ies - typical houses ground floor + attic, in 60-ies - 4-floors communal houses. Then it was decided by Communist Party leaders to convert Alytus into the economic center of south Lithuania. There were build about 10 factories. In 20 years the number of inhabitants increased from 15 000 to 80 000. The city became totally proletarian. In the 90-ies after the collapse of the SU in few years almost all the factories bankrupted and there was the biggest unemployment in the state. About 20 000 inhabitants left for USA and Western European countries to seek for easier life. What is very interesting about the city - till the 90-ies the map of the city was not available, because of the military status of city. The city was planned by the architects from Kaunas who never experienced the life in the city and there were a lot of strange solutions. Architects were trying to make some strange paths between the parts of the town, but the people in the town were using the longer paths - only in the 90-ies a lot of people realized that the main street in the city is not the straight, but the round one...After the 90-ies Alytus became the polygon for the experiments of the top architects of Lithuania (actually from Vilnius if the commission is a huge one) - they started to build absolutely stupid buildings without any responsibility or watching city context and just with the task probably to enjoy the freedom of expression and to express their own egos... so, now Alytus is absolutely mixed up city in all senses of the city life and if you would like to go for the direct challenge I would like to do my best in organizing the situation for your ideas, because it in any case of your way of presentation will appear in a public space (even if you'll use indoor space).

And more – because of the reasons described above Alytus for always seemed to be probably the only one city I know, where you always feel as being in a suburb of the city whatever point of the city you'll appear. Just 3 minutes walk from the very center of the city starts the forest…

The city is quite illogic, so there could appear whatever idea, form, statement – everything will be accepted as being very typical to the local situation."


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Alytus biennial daily

According to the leading dictatorship in yahoo groups wich does not allow you to join the group without siging up, we are swiching our virtual space. Now it will be organised as a internet blog. Hopefully it wont make any dificulties to you my dear friends.