Interview with Andrej Polukord

“Maybe all architectural masterpieces were born not where we think, but in small, cosy villages,” says the artist Andrej Polukord, participant of the “Lavkė. Slow and sandy expedition” residency. Viktorija Damerell interviews him.

How did you decide to participate in the Lavkė residency?
I saw that everything will be taking place in a forest and that you get paid a scholarship. I like being in the woods, I often do activities related to it. And, too, my projects are related to it. This led to the decision to participate in the Lavkė residency.

Did you experience any discoveries while in Kabeliai?
There was Evaldas in Kabeliai and he showed me a sort of beekeeper’s high-climb rope device – kumaragis. It is made of a solid combination of wood and cow horn. I was interested in this construction – it is wonderful that the primitive objects that occur in the household are combined into a structure that is responsible for human
life and performs its function perfectly. I had never seen such a thing before. It would be interesting to see a rock climber or painter up high using this primitive device. And who could have thought that a man invented this kumaragis just to look for honey!

Has anything disappointed you here?
When I applied, I thought I would live in a wooden house because I saw pictures of that house in the description of Lavkė. However, we received a freshly “euro”- renovated room in the yellow brick school. Everywhere – “euro”-linoleums. That was disappointing. I was just so sure I’d live in the hut.

After living in the village of Kabeliai, you were soon acquainted with a lot of its inhabitants. It would take more than one year for a frequent visitor to meet so many. Do you have a strategy for meeting people? Or maybe that’s just a secondary consequence of your activities in the countryside?
No, I don’t have any techniques. It’s funny, because we can understand the Lithuanian word for “meeting people” – megzti ryšius – ambiguously. Megzti can also mean “to knit”. To knit a sweater somehow works for the Lavkė residency… Maybe I should have done that, I don’t know… Well, I managed to make a lot of
contacts, I liked the communication… Just because. I like buying food from locals. Local products are the most fresh,
because they are picked right in front of your eyes. And, if you already live in the village, you can expect to get such products. You only need to ask, because nowadays it is increasingly the case that people grow only as much as they can eat themselves, or their relatives come and help them eat the fresh produce. Then you
go to another person. That’s one way to walk around the whole village and get to know practically everyone in the first day.
I bought lettuce from one person, from another – eggs, and I went to a third to pick strawberries.
It is a good question whether finding and getting food during my Lavkė residency was a secondary or main activity for me.

You’ve visited a lot of art residencies. What do you do first when you come to a new place?
I start with my suitcase. Then I get some food. With a full stomach, I go explore the surroundings on foot, or if I’m lucky to get a bike, I go bike riding. The activity of investigating and exploring the surrounding areas is perhaps one of the most interesting things to do.

What inspires you to create?
New places, situations found or experienced.

Can you tell me about your idea of building the sculpture “Piza Kabeliai”?

While traveling, I found a tilted outdoor kitchen that I thought I had seen somewhere else before. I thought for a long time before I finally figured out where I had seen a similar structure – the tower in the city of Pisa, in Italy, the successor of antiquity culture. Both objects lean in the same way. Only here the structure is in the design and style of the local rural residents.
When the walls of the outdoor kitchen are placed on top of each other, the imagery of the Tower of Pisa becomes even clearer. By moving this tower to the entrance to the village of Kabeliai, I want to refute the stereotype that the homeland of masterpieces of architectural culture is Italy. Maybe all architectural masterpieces
were born not where we think, but in small, cosy villages? Just like over there, so too was the architectural idea here born unintentionally – from situations formed from the environment. The Bermuda Triangle-like shape of the roof and the top of the tower “Piza Kabeliai” is meant to absorb lightning discharges, thus stopping in their tracks the rain clouds that keep on passing the village and thus bringing rain to the surrounding area.

How did the locals accept this idea? Very enthusiastically. The residents were pleased to learn that their village would host a work of art competing with a masterpiece of Italian architecture.

What does the village mean to you?
Probably for me it is mostly peace, a normal pace of life that’s perfect for humans.
Definitely in contrast to the rush and stress of being in the city.

Thank you for the conversation.