Uncomfortable Vilnius

January–July 2023

In 2023 Vilnius is getting a lot of attention that is polite. We celebrate the importance, merits and advantages of the city’s naming day. As the anniversary year of Vilnius comes to an end, a time to sober up and to take a break from the euphoria will come. It might be a good time to talk about the city’s life, which was not always bright, cheerful and unadorned. The exhibition will present the hitherto little-known sorrows of Vilnius at different times: the disunity between the communities of Vilnius, violence and crime, prostitution, substance abuse and its consequences, poverty, disease, isolation cells and prisons.

Many people choose not to look at and not to notice marginalised groups, or view them with prejudiced negative attitudes. Meanwhile, these same groups are regarded in historical narratives as relics of a romantic past without being linked to the complex and painful experiences of the real people. By telling the uncomfortable stories of Vilnius, we will draw attention to the reality and ambiguity of the city’s life, and invite people to take a critical look at the myths of romanticised Vilnius.

Announcement, 1915. Biblioteka Narodowa