Lithuanian pavilion Airtime at the XXI Triennale di Milano 2016


Artist: Julijonas Urbonas

Curator: Justė Kostikovaitė

Commissioner: Vilnius Academy of Arts


STAGE I: April 2 - June 20
Exhibition of the selected works by Julijonas Urbonas.
Intro to the field of gravitational design.

STAGE II: August 25th  - September 12th

Kinetic installation "Airtime".

Sleep capsule of Oneiric Hotel, Emetic Spatula and a prototype of Airtime
Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Cumspin and Euthanasia Coaster  Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Cumspin and Euthanasia Coaster
Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani

The 1st of April marked the opening of this year’s XXI Triennale di Milano, with the theme "Design after Design". The XXI Triennale di Milano—sponsored by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE)—is a new international exhibition, following in the tradition of those held for more than 70 years. Following a pause without exhibitions for twenty years, the XII Triennale di Milano came back this year to feature pavilions hosting exhibitions by artists and designers from over thirty different countries.


The Lithuanian Pavilion is proud to be hosting Airtime, an exhibition by Julijonas Urbonas introducing what he calls “gravitational design”. The first stage of the exhibition opened with a selection of his kinetic and scale models, sculptural prototypes, installations and drawings exploring his new concept he has used to exploit the means of manipulating bodily perceptions of gravity, in order to create experiences that push the body and its imagination to the extreme. Working between amusement-park design, space medicine, science-fiction, robotics and choreography, Urbonas has developed certain tools to play around with gravity which sit somewhere between a killer roller coaster and a hotel that provides the public with dreams in which they can levitate. It is with these projects in mind that he first coined the term “gravitational design”.


The exhibition has also been accompanied by a programme of performances and diverse events bringing the Lithuanian contemporary art, design and architecture to public attention. On the 10th of April, during MiArt Fair, Airtime hosted a newly commissioned performance You said suicide and I think half a boat is very broken by Sophie Jung (CH/UK) and Garrett Nelson (CH/CA), reflecting on the themes of death, gravity, pleasure, falling, and the concept of air that unifies Urbonas’ exhibition. Set in the back of a former cruise ship, adjacent to the Lithuanian Pavilion at the XXI Triennale di Milano, the artists staged "a tragedy in twenty-two acts", reinterpreting Urbonas’ themes related to gravitational suspension, as well as ideas of euthanasia and extraterrestrial sex in their mix. Both performers are known for their lexical idiosyncrasies, love of the cringe-worthy moments and dramatic earnestness used in their "special skills and abilities". Through the format of the Matinee, they explored the triumph of the failed entertainer.

Sleep capsule of Oneiric Hotel
Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Cumspin  Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Emetic Spatula
Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani
Detail of the scale model of Euthanasia Coaster
Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani

The second stage of the exhibition will present Urbonas’ most recent project Airtime, a hybrid participatory and kinetic installation which fuses elements of gut-oriented architecture with elements of an anti-gravitational machine or amusement ride. Lurking beneath a floor, a custom-built hydraulic lift has been installed. Waiting to detect members of the unsuspecting public standing on it, it will drop abruptly by one foot causing them to experience episodic sensations of weightlessness, before slowly resetting upwards, repeating the process in a rhythmic manner. Despite lasting just a fraction of a second, the sensation might be met with screams or at least the need suddenly for some more air. Coinciding with the inaugural opening of Urbonas’ kinetic installation on the 24th of June, the programme of newly commissioned performances will finish with Ropes, a piece by artist Jacopo Miliani (IT) involving dancers and sculptures based on research made around similar movements and the human body.

Installation in the Lithuanian pavilion at Milano Triennale 2016
Introduction of Airtime in Lithuanian pavilion at Milano Triennale 2016
Photo: Aistė Valiūtė and Daumantas Plechavičius

The Lithuanian Pavilion and its accompanying performance programme is curated by Justė Kostikovaitė. Previously, she worked with Julijonas Urbonas for his participation in the Lisbon Architecture Triennale, and has curated numerous exhibitions at Kunstraum Gallery, London; Temnikova&Kasela gallery, Tallinn; National Gallery of Art, Vilnius; Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Parallel Programme at the Marrakech Biennale among others.


Artist: Julijonas Urbonas
Curator: Justė Kostikovaitė
Commissioner: Vilnius Academy of Arts

Exhibition design: Julijonas Urbonas
Mechanical engineering: Marius Pališaitis
Hydraulics engineering: Julijonas Urbonas
Electronics: Dmitrij Snegin
Graphic design: Gailė Pranckūnaitė and Marek Voida
Photography: Delfino Sisto Legnani, Aistė Valiūtė and Daumantas Plechavičius
Video: Aistė Valiūtė and Daumantas Plechavičius
Team: Ignas Pavliukevičius, Paulius Vitkauskas, Kotryna Vilkaitė – Buono, Toma Gudelytė