“It’s like a journey through the three stages of human life - understanding who I am, accepting myself as I am, and being happy with myself as I am,” is how Rytis Zemkauskas, one of the creative masterminds behind Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022, introduced the Contemporary Kaunas Myth Trilogy.
After “Confusion” shook the Lithuanian city in January, on 20-22 May, Kaunas 2022 invites the participants to immerse themselves in the second part of the trilogy, “Confluence”, and to listen to the flow of the waters, to forget the contradictions and to celebrate unity. Over 60 events await in Kaunas and Kaunas district over the festive weekend, from breathtaking aerial acrobat performances and puppet shows to a mystery show influenced by nature and the arrival of the great ship of culture.
It is no coincidence that the “Confluence” weekend, filled with togetherness, will kick off with the Courtyard Festival inspired by the European Neighbour Day. According to Kaunas 2022's community programme “Fluxus Labas!” coordinator Simona Savickaitė, the tradition, started by artist Vytenis Jakas in 2017, has survived thanks to the people who look forward to it every year with burning eyes.
“In a couple of hours, around fifty bands will perform on Laisvės Avenue. Tables of cafés, restaurants and people, communities and organisations will be lined up between their podiums. The artists will also entertain from balconies. We look forward to welcoming guests from other European Capital of Culture cities. The event will close with a special concert by the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra at the Soboras,” says the organiser of the Courtyard Festival, inviting everyone to Laisvės Alėja on Friday evening.
The most anticipated event of Saturday, 21 May, and maybe of the whole weekend, is the Contemporary Kaunas Myth Trilogy show “Confluence” itself. “The experience of this event will also depend on the grace of Kaunas rivers: the speed of the current, the water level, the air temperature and the strength of the wind,” intrigues the creative team working on the first show of its kind in Lithuania to take place in flowing water. The artists reveal that the set will feature waves of boats, with projections animating the rivers providing a unique spectacle, and live orchestral music will help the audience sink into a dream.
Over a hundred performers will create an unpredictable impression and perform the technically complex programme at “Confluence”. Obviously, 21 May will be the only opportunity to see such a show, as it is impossible to repeat it.
The organizers are preparing even more surprises. After the grand evening event, at 11:55 p.m., the mysterious symbol of the city - Kaunas Mythical Beast - will show up to Kaunas residents and guests. It will be waiting for the audience nearby the “Žalgiris” arena, in the shortest sculpture unveiling ceremony in the world, which will last only a minute. “People will come to see this sculpture from all over the world,” promise the organizers and reveal that the best way to see the Beast is from afar: from the bike path of Karalius Mindaugas avenue or the Žalgiris Arena bridge by the Carmelite Church.
The second act of the contemporary Kaunas myth trilogy will also include Kaunas’ birthday. Performers from all over the world - Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Taiwan and Lithuania - will congratulate the city and its people at the new Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage, located in Town Hall Square.
Among the many performers are the Swedish string orchestra Musica Vitae, JISR, LÜCY, Bratři, Colors of Bubbles, Baltic Balkan, Kedrostuburas, Ministry of Echology and Arklio galia.
A 180-metre rope stretched 10 metres high, and an acrobat demonstrating her skills without any safety equipment. Sound incredible? Balance and imbalance, courage and fear, strength and weakness - a whole bouquet of emotions will come together in the Open Lines spectacle created by the world-renowned professionals from France, Cie Basinga. Music, acrobatic rope walks and the synergy of height and air await in just two exclusive performances at Santaka on Saturday and Sunday. The show will start at 4 pm on the Kaunas Castle grounds.
Interestingly, for the performances to run smoothly, a team of as many as 50 assistants is needed to hold the rope from swinging with their body weight. Similar shows by Cie Basinga have already been organised abroad - ropes have been swung at great heights in Switzerland, the Czech Republic, France and other countries, with the help of local people - this will be the case in Kaunas too.
Cie Basinga © Antoine Repessé
For friends or neighbours, here’s an idea - divide into two groups, team Nemunas and team Neris, and spend 21 May sailing in canoes, boats, or even homemade rafts. The participants of the community cultural route “Let’s celebrate the river!” will be invited to enjoy various educational activities, exhibitions, musical rhythms and workshop areas along the way.
Those who choose the River Neris will be invited to join in creating a large-scale drawing in the art plein air event in the Neris riverfront park. An oasis of peace - an island of music and education - awaits families with children at the P. Vileišis Bridge.
The Panemunė beach will be waiting for participants sailing down the river Nemunas. There will be volleyball and checkers tournaments, a board games area and even fencing classes. At the Panemune Bridge, people are invited to a plein air painting of wooden boats. Yet another art stop will await at the Žemieji Šančiai beach.
Everyone is invited to Zapyškis, a town in Kaunas District, to celebrate the “Confluence” weekend finale. After the kite festival “Between the Earth and the Sky”, on Sunday, 22 May, the historical dredge will start a new life here, becoming a cultural boat “Nemuno7“. The main show will start after the sunset. An audiovisual musical narrative about water, sustainability and dialogue will be performed by the duo from Klaipėda “Tykumos”. The artists will voice underground, geological, human inner, visible and invisible water currents, while metal dredge structures will become musical instruments for one evening. All this will be combined with original atmospheric music and authentic folk songs sung by the mixed choir Kamertonas. Spectators are invited to watch the performance from the banks of the Nemunas and plan their visit to the culture boat, where the first exhibitions will already be on display, from 24 May.
Also from 20-22 May. Kaunas will host the International Puppet Theatre Festival Kaunas Puppet 2022, the European Culture Fair, the Artists’ Square, a unique Labyrinth Puzzle in the Old Town, and Putvinskio Street Day in the city centre.
Kaunas 2022 also invites the attendee of “Confluence” to visit the European Capital of Culture exhibitions. The National M. K. Čiurlionis Art Museum and the Kaunas Picture Gallery are hosting retrospectives of William Kentridge and Marina Abramović. At the same time, the exhibition “1972: Breaking through the Wall”, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the burning of Romas Kalanta, awaits at the Kaunas Central Post Office.
Traces of Kaunas symbol - the Mythical Beast - will be spread throughout the city during the weekend. Ceramist Remigijus Sederevičius will present a unique sculpture of the Beast's Tooth. Moreover, after picking up a special mask at the information centres, Kaunas residents and guests of the city will be invited to take part in the game - visit the venues and collect stickers, for which they will receive special prizes.
Additional train routes Kaunas-Vilnius will be available during the weekend. Trains will leave from the Capital of Culture on Friday at 9:50 p.m., on Saturday at 11:40-55 p.m. and Sunday 09:50 p.m.
During the events, traffic will be restricted in Kaunas Old Town (from May 20 at 12:00 p.m. to May 22 at 9:00 p.m.), Užnemunės str. in one traffic lane (from 12 May at 6:00 p.m. to 22 May at 00:00 a.m.) and Užnemunės str. in all lanes (19 May 4:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. on 20 May and from 01:00 p.m. on 21 May until 2:00 a.m. on 22 May)
The complete programme of the Kaunas 2022 weekend “Confluence” is available on kaunas2022.eu and the Kaunas 2022 mobile app.
Kaunas 2022 information and photos.