Located in the Ringaudai neighbourhood in Kaunas district, the 19th-century 1st fort of Kaunas fortress has brightened up with light textures reminding the skin of a mysterious reptile. The new art installation by Linas Kutavičius is a friendly gesture towards bats, animals that make up a significant population at the fort, and an invitation for people to (re)discover this historical object.
Rising behind the concrete caponier of the fort, the light installation is a symbol inviting to take a sneak peek inside. The author and those involved in the project believe artistic interventions like this one can help make the military structure cosier; it can also inspire future searches and discoveries. The 1st fort will continue implementing new features later this year.
“I believe many Kaunasians feel the fort is somewhere out there. It’s all about the darkness, the smell of dampness and the mixture of childish bravery and fear. The fort, indeed, is a creature of military industry; while the man is the storyteller creating signs and symbols for future generations. This is how myths and tales are born – somewhere between the past and the imagination“, contemplates Egidijus Bagdonas, head of Kaunas Fortress Park. He adds that the installation, part of the bigger Kaunas Beast Fortress project, invites to rethink and reinterpret the military heritage surrounding the city of Kaunas, and to discover new signs that would lead the way for the visitors
The bats are still hibernating but they should be fully awake by May 1st, which is the first day to officially visit the 1st fort without disturbing the nocturnal creatures. It’s recommended to visit the fort with a guide. In fact, the Kaunas Fortress Park unites seven forts of the fortress; its staff will gladly help you explore them and witness their revival.
You can see more artworks in the 1st fort; it’s a drawing by Povilas Kupčinskas commissioned by Kaunas 2022 and an architectural installation by Mantas Maziliauskas created during the cultural heritage festival Baterija 2020.
The Kaunas Beast Fortress project is presented by Kaunas 2022. Next year, Kaunas and Kaunas district will be the European Capital of Culture. The team has launched a program of eight directions; an important part of the core idea is developing cultural partnerships, an ambition that currently includes 64 institutions and private initiatives. Together, by implementing changes in the cultural scene of Kaunas, we are moving from the temporary capital to the contemporary.
Photos by Arūnė Varnaa.