Every three years the CAC organises the Baltic Triennial, one of the most ambitious contemporary art events in the Baltic region. It is curated each time by different curators who propose their vision and present artists from various regions of the world.
Among other events of its kind the Baltic Triennial stands for its history, which goes back to 1979, and its experimental spirit. The form of the exhibition is constantly shifting, and while it usually takes place at the CAC, it is often held at other venues too.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BALTIC TRIENNIAL
The first triennial of young Baltic artists was organised at the Vilnius Palace of Exhibitions in 1979. It differed from the many other biennials and triennials organised in Lithuania and the rest of the Soviet Union at the time because of its inclusion of various genres of visual art (the rest were mostly dedicated to a single form of art – painting, posters, medals, applied art, ceramics, etc) and its nonconformist spirit. Up until the restoration of the country’s independence the Baltic Triennial provoked passionate discussions and contributed to the blurring of the boundary between official and underground art.
When Lithuania regained independence in 1990, all of the state institutions were gradually reorganised, and the continuity of the Baltic Triennial fell into the hands of the Contemporary Art Centre which was founded in place of the Art Exhibition Palace. In 1995 the 4th Baltic Triennial was curated by Lolita Jablonskienė, who staged it as an exhibition of young artists from the Baltics called ‘Misfits’. Further on, the Baltic Triennial started to include artists of various generations.
During the following years Lithuanian artists were increasingly included in important international exhibitions and biennials. The variety and geography of artworks presented at the CAC was also expanding. In 1998, the Baltic Triennial ‘Cool Places’, curated by the CAC’s director Kęstutis Kuizinas, presented artists from Nordic countries, and the exhibition ‘Centre of Attraction’ in 2002, curated by Tobias Berger, featured artists, architects and theoreticians from several continents.
Most of the Baltic Triennials that followed were curated by international collectives. The overall character of the exhibition was increasingly being dictated not just by the curators’ vision but also by the architects and designers. In collaboration with various partners the exhibitions and presentations of the Baltic Triennial were organised in other Baltic countries, as well as in Poland, the UK, and in 2005 even on board of a flying airplane.