The exhibition – “Dalia Grinkevičiūtė (1927-1987). Spaces / Overcome distances” – seeks to revisit both her life and her memoir, Lithuanians at the Laptev Sea. Dalia's work has come to serve as an inspiration for new art works and this exhibit in particular – not only to remind us of her story but also to enable us to “experience” it. But first and foremost – its purpose is to overcome the distances that took the author from Kaunas to Siberia, then back again to Kaunas, and again from Kaunas to Siberia – one more time...

Kaunas is the center of Dalia's world. The hearth in her happy childhood. The city from which the Grinkevičius family was deported and the one to which Dalia and her mother returned into hiding after their escape from Siberia. It is in Kaunas that Dalia buries her dead mother in the basement of the family home; it is where she writes down her first set of memories, then fearing discovery, stuffs the loose sheets of paper into a glass jar and buries them in what used to be her family's garden. In Kaunas she is arrested, taken for a walk in Vytautas Park and pressured into becoming an informer.  It is here that she is imprisoned when she refuses and is deported for the second time. When she eventually returns to Kaunas, she searches for the buried manuscript but cannot find it. She finishes her medical studies and finds work. In the end it is in Kaunas that she is laid to rest, and in Kaunas that a peony shrub stands watch over her buried memories for over four decades. The truth eventually triumphs.

The exhibition consists of modules – SPACES, devoted to the three pivotal episodes in Dalia's life: her childhood in Kaunas between the wars; deportation; and her mother's burial after the war. The olfactory art group Hortus Apertus explores the diverse periods of her life through scents, an artistic medium gaining popularity both in museum culture and psychological discourse: “When suffering becomes unbearable, a person tends to 'amputate' part of his consciousness in order to survive.  Awareness is thus reduced to the cycle of inhalation and exhalation. Language ceases. The narrative of pain is conveyed by breath and breathing. Hence the eight olfactory capsules – the story of Dalia Grinkevičiūtė's life, the art group Hortus Apertus explains, deconstructed into objects of scents.

Not only scent, of course. The exhibit also uses images, sound effects, objects, the cold, innovative animation – all contribute to the experiential element, encouraged as we are, to feel the event with the body, have our olfactory senses stimulate our imagination, and, ultimately, steer us to that moment of identification. In the space dedicated to the Arctic, the visitor also gets the chance to experience a segment of the Lithuanian debut of the interactive animation film “Purga”. Film directors, Gintarė Valevičiūtė Brazauskienė and Antanas Skučas, rely on Grinkevičiūtė's memoir, Lithuanians at the Laptev Sea, and Gintautas Martynaitis's deportation sketches for their film narrative and interactive animation.

Thus, the exhibition speaks to the visitor not only with words but with the senses, too, using a universal language that can be understood by our foreign visitors to Kaunas European Cultural Capital 2022.

For the first time, Dalia Grinkevičiūtė's original manuscript written in 1949-50 will be exhibited in Kaunas! It is the most powerful of the author's works, documenting many of the details and specifics of deportation. In 2021, her recollections were incorporated into the UNESCO “Memory of the World” register. That same year, the electronic journal The Calvert included the English translation of Grinkevičiūtė's memoir, Shadows on the Tundra (translated by Delija Valiukėnas), into the list of the 100 most significant books from Eastern Europe and Central Asia available in English. 

The Lithuanian Writers Union Press has included Lithuanians at the Laptev Sea in its XX Century Series: Lithuanian Literary Treasures, and the text has been integrated into the school curriculum. Dalia Grinkevičiūtė's narrative voice is profoundly compelling in its straight-shooting simplicity, its intimacy, and its lack of bias, accentuated further by the narrator's unbreakable will.  Her authentic and inspirational texts have garnered considerable interest not only in Lithuania but also abroad. To date, her memoir has been translated into ten languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Finnish, Polish, Serbian and Russian.

Dalia Grinkevičiūtė (1927-1987) was born and died in Kaunas and deported more than once.  She is the author of the best known and most highly acclaimed recollections of the Lithuanian deportations to Siberia. Once their publication was permitted in Lithuania, the recollections were published, first, under the name of Recollections and later as Lithuanians on the Laptev Sea (See continuation in The Native Land). The writings of this talented and rare person are valued for their realistic portrayal of the Siberian exile, their extraordinarily visual and dramatic handling of events, and, particularly, for the astounding impact its publication in 1988 had on the freedom and independence movement Sąjūdis in Lithuania.

The exhibition “Dalia Grinkevičiūtė (1927-1987). Rooms / Overcome distances” is part of the “Kaunas European Cultural Capital 2022” exposition.

The exhibition is open until 26th of February 2023.                                                                                                                                                                                      

Project manager:
Deimantė Cibulskienė

Exhibition authors: Gintarė Valevičiūtė Brazauskienė, Vytenė Muschick, Jurga Graf
Exhibition creative team: group of olfactory artists Hortus Apertus, Gintarė Valevičiūtė Brazauskienė, Jurga Graf, Vytenė Muschick, Antanas Skučas, Marius Salynas, Martynas Vilimavičius, Laima Čijunskaitė, Inga Zamulskienė etc.

Exhibition sponsors and partners: 
Kaunas 2022, National Museum of Lithuania, Lithuanian Writers’ Union Publishing House, Lithuanian Culture Institute, Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, Botanical Garden of Vilnius University, Hortus ApertusTylus kinas.
Exhibition sponsors: Lithuanian Council for Culture, Kaunas City Municipal, The Lithuanian Film Centre.