Gallery Vartai launches a new series of annual exhibitions dedicated to contemporary design. The aim of the project, realized in collaboration with Lithuanian and foreign designers, curators, and institutions, is to create a platform for continuous presentation of unique design works in the context of thematic exhibitions.

The first exhibition in the series, Alert Objects, presents design projects by ten authors, of which four objects by Lithuanian designers were created specifically for this show. Many of the participants are alumni of the Design Academy Eindhoven: and their practice shares a contextual approach to making objects. If design is a creative field directly related to the improvement of our daily life, in the face of today’s ecological and political crisis it can no longer be focused solely on the search for formal and functional solutions to reach an aesthetic result. Hence, contextual design perceives objects as actants in the network of social, cultural, and technological meanings, which transcend the conventional borders of creativity and science, and whose aesthetic and practical value is inseparable from their innovative contribution to positive social processes.

The title of the exhibition, Alert Objects, refers to the logical contradiction evident in our daily life. On the one hand, the things surrounding us are part of passive inanimate nature, resources or inventions supposed to serve us and make our daily routine easier. On the other hand, we often unconsciously treat things as living beings, succumbing to their imposed order that shapes our habits and self-perception. The exhibition is like a middle point in this dual relationship with things. It proposes to envision them as tirelessly conscious – sensing and having an opinion about events around them, but simultaneously physically yielding to be used (whether willingly or not). The alertness of objects is presented in the show as a critical imagination exercise intended to retune our personal relationship with the surrounding material environment which we are an integral part of. The exhibition seeks to redirect the delusional ideas of exerting control over nature, rooted in superfluous mass production, inert consumption and bleak everyday experience, towards an intimate and responsible being together in a shared world.

The exhibition is structured as a set of different situations taking place between the exhibits, while the visitors are invited to take part in them as if they were the things’ guests. All of the design objects in the exhibition are furniture items or interior elements with a clear function which they seem to have abandoned for a moment in favour of an activity known only to them. Acting as the protagonists of the exhibition and simultaneously the backdrop for their own actions, they spoof the familiar world much like cartoon characters, that this world is largely human-made. Thus, the order of things in which we participate is our responsibility and it can be rearranged according to need, like the laws of physics in animation.

(Edgaras Gerasimovičius)