The National Martynas Mažvydas Library of Lithuania invites you to Agnė Jokšė’s personal exhibition ‘Dear Friend,’ currently on display at the library’s Exhibition Hall. This exhibition is a site-specific installation of Agnė Jokšė’s video-letter of the same title. The video work itself is a staged narrative based on an intimate, autobiographical text interwoven with elements of fiction. Portraying the story of a broken friendship, the letter raises questions of identity, intimacy, and platonic connection, at the same time reflecting on the fragility of relationships and how it can be determined by physical distance and the passage of time. The work is also a testimony to coming of age, giving an insight into the process of learning to be together.
The video depicts the author walking across the empty exhibition hall of the Vilnius Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), reading the letter aloud from the screen of her phone. Such voicing of the text turns the intimate act of writing to another into an extension of the physical space of the cultural institution, as well as a public statement. The video work was first presented in 2019, at the annual group exhibition of novice artists hosted by CAC and that year entitled ‘Not at Anyone's Request’. The international jury of contemporary curators and artists selected Jokšė’s video story as the best work of the exhibition. According to the members of the jury, the work “accurately reveals the subtleness of human relationships, filling in an important, yet to be written page about the history of gender, identity and the experience of belonging to a particular community. But most importantly, it challenges the barriers of ordinary language”. The exhibition ‘Dear Friend,’ at the National Library continues the work’s journey between different local cultural spaces, situations and audiences.
“The basis of ‘Dear Friend,’ is language and how it unfolds new ways of telling, being and experiencing, how it participates in creating interpersonal connection, and reinforces or, on the contrary, destabilises the cultural and social norms established in society. This is why it is so meaningful to reexhibit the work in the National Martynas Mažvydas Library of Lithuania, i. e. an institution comprehensively involved in the formation of a common language, memory and knowledge. Moreover, displaying the video-letter in a the library’s exhibition space contributes to upholding one of its immanent features - being meant to be on a journey. Created with minimal means of expression, but at the same time aesthetically sensitive and impactful, the piece and its exposition at the Exhibition Hall of the National Library will introduce the library audience to the works of a notable young Lithuanian artist and encourage to have a deeper look at text as one of the forms of contemporary artistic expression. Agnė Jokšė’s work explores the possibilities of text in terms of its performativity, corporeality and social charge.”
Exhibition curator Gerda Paliušytė
Thank you for being here and for reading what I am about to caringly write in this letter. I would more than love to meet you in the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania Exhibition Hall, to exchange hellos and chat face to face. Yet I am currently in Copenhagen, looking at the ever-changing, ever more spring-like sky through my bedroom window. I find myself trying to catch sunbeams that are penetrating through the glass, warming me and giving me hope. Today, a journey to Lithuania seems to me somewhat like what a year ago I imagined a journey to another continent to be. It’s far, I want it, but is it really necessary? Isn’t it interesting how quickly our perception of geographical distances can change? In these circumstances, I am using this letter to look for other ways to connect and to invite you to think about friendship, together.
This last year has been extraordinary for everyone. I could probably hardly think of an area of life that hasn’t been affected by the global pandemic. With the active promotion of physical distance in the global world - in which people have been maintaining contact virtually for quite a while already - a large share of our daily communication didn’t take too long to fully move online. It seems that those tools for upholding connection that we have now tamed and mastered are isolating us in their own ways. We find ourselves in the bubbles of ideas and opinions as if looking at a mirror. Clever algorithms that have managed to learn yet unnamed desires are doing a great job at shifting our attention away from our primary motivation, one of the most common human desires - to connect, to stay connected, to become and be friends. I believe that in this context, ‘Dear Friend,’ becomes relevant again. I am curious: how are you doing fostering friendships at this time?
In this video, I will tell about a relationship that began without expectations, and evolved. I will share with you why I feel it is important. Both the work and its process in my eyes are an attempt to question the established hierarchy of relationships, in which, (un)fortunately, the place of friendship is rather undefined. What would change in the world if we started thinking that friendships were in fact the most important relationships of all? Or if we at least saw friendships as equal to, as significant as other relationships? I believe that friendship stimulates and trains - especially empathy, one of the most crucial human senses. More than once have I experienced how friendship can bring two seemingly different worlds together.
I wonder: how do friendships help us to learn other worlds and all the different outlooks and dreams within them? Perhaps friendships inspire a desire to really see those worlds, and cherish them? Is it easier to hear and accept whatever is shared by our close ones because we really care about them? What do we experience in closeness and intimacy? Why does it matter? I would love to hear what you think.
I am thinking just how fortunate it is that being involved in several friendships at the same time is socially acceptable. I do hope that in these 20 minutes you will discover something close to you, something recognisable.
My warmest wishes,