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‘The Diagnosis is Naïvety’: Arturas Raila’s Journey into the Woods

Artūras Raila, Upė (River), 2006, chromogenic colour print, 125 × 186cm, from the series Žemės galia (Power of the Earth), 2005—12. Courtesy the artist
Travis Jeppesen argues that, in enlisting various social and cultural misfits, Arturas Raila vindicates the artist’s role as an outsider. It is perhaps impossible to fully separate Artūras Raila from the historical events that shaped Lithuania in the past half-century. Born in a small village in 1962 when the country’s art scene was in the midst of a ‘thaw’, or relaxation from the dictates of socialist realism (and also the year that Fluxus ‘invaded’ Lithuania via musicologist Vytautas Landsbergis’s correspondence with George Maciunas), Raila would finish his studies in sculpture in the capital’s fine arts academy in 1989.Two years later, the Soviet system collapsed. What followed was a period of uncertainty, not merely for Raila, but for society at large.