LAK (Lithuania) was an exhibition at Kaunas Artis House and encompassed an experimental documentary film LAK (1h 13 min) produced during Rupert residency in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2020 and hand written texts in Lithuanian, Russian and English exploring the themes of intergenerational migration legacy. In the slowly unrolling narrative storks are being used as a symbol to critique saturated nationalism and national symbols. The film allows one to have a meditative glance into multifaceted cultural and ecological landscapes of Lithuania, meanwhile questioning the homogeneity of the nation.
 
Film includes dialogues, reflections, knowledge, facts and fiction that touch upon the topics of storks, birds, migration, homeland, movement, biodiversity and interdependence, transforming artistic work into a space for the exchange of ideas and cultural knowledge. Majority of the film was produced traveling around Lithuania by bicycle, interviewing ornithologists, talking to people in the villages and towns, workers in the fields, elderly residents of individual farms; meeting a closed religious community near the Belarusian border and others.

The musical track for the documentary was created by composer Andrius Arutiunian.

March 24, 2020. Stork Day is tomorrow. The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary too. And I too, having the name of Marija or Mary, just like a stork, having spread my wings and being carried by warm air currents, am flying home - old, new, or perhaps only temporary. Only my wings are heavy, metallic, and the body is covered with inscriptions and tattoos: Ryanair, Boeing… R Y A N A I R - should really be used as a special term to describe the class of economic migrants.

I share these wings with other members of the flock. With the same migrants, who have suddenly come to their senses, to whom the pandemic threw a Hamlet-like question of survival: to stay, or to return? If not now, then never. We fly, sharing the airspace with storks, just like we share our homes here and there. Paradoxically, migratory birds are a national symbol, but migrating people are not.

Some very tipsy woman is raving on the plane. She is marching back and forth down the aircraft cabin, singing something from the heart, slapping everyone on the back of their heads. But even among the storks, who are awaited on a national level, there are some characters that don’t quite fit the fabled narrative. They kill poor rabbits, catch fisherman’s fish, or pollute homesteads - feathers and shit everywhere. I remember one lady saying, “when they let it go…just watch out, everything turns white, white, white”.

MARIJA NEMČENKO ARŽANYCH