We meet the artist in his hometown Vilnius in 2018, our host having made the arrangements for what we think will be a studio visit. Augustas is coming over to pick us up, which is a nice gesture. He then takes us for a short drive, parks the car in an indistinctive street, presents a pair of rubber boots and tells us we can only go one at a time. In turn, we put on the boots and are taken to the riverside, down its slippery slope, and then gently ushered into the old sewerage pipe at the bottom. Inside of what turns out to be his graduation work, a comfortable hammock offers us a perfectly framed view on the flowing river. Augustas is there, waiting patiently while we let things sink in.
Upon his first real encounter with the premises of P/////AKT, in the fall of 2019, it immediately becomes clear that the adjacent building site is something to be worked with. As is often the case in his practice, Augustas Serapinas likes to reflect upon the surrounding context of the space he’s invited to do a project – the space usually an art space, the context something other than that. The work to be done, as it turned out, is the real deal. The work, as real as it is, is also a facsimile. To make things a bit more complicated still: a facsimile of something that doesn’t exist, but at some point will come into existence – but differently.
The privately owned lot next door from P/////AKT has been awaiting its new destination since 2007. Work – the gentrification of this rare little fringe – has now finally begun: a five-story building consisting of apartments and commercial/office spaces on the ground floor should be finished by the spring of 2021. Van Wijnen, the main contractor refers to it as 20 Apartments, or simply Zeeburgerpad 54. At the moment they are building a two-layered parking garage below street level – in a way the stage on which Serapinas has designed his proposal for P/////AKT and which is mirroring the yet-to-be-built ground floor of the new building inside the exhibition space. Leading up to the exhibition, P/////AKT has been negotiating with the owner and contractor in order to obtain the necessary information and technicaldrawings. P/////AKT also hired brick workers to execute the construction, not unlike like a contractor hiring a subcontractor for a certain stage in the building process.
As we by now strongly believe, Serapinas considers the process of preparation and production of the work leading up to its current state, to be a material, a part of the final piece on view, which is an artistic production inside an exhibition space. At the same time it is a living construction site. The distinction between the two is diffuse, which means things are continuously oscillating between two realities and will keep doing so throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Augustas Serapinas, 20 Apartments, installation views and details, P/////AKT, 2020.
Photographs by Rob van de Werdt and Valeria Marchesini, courtesy of P/////AKT Amsterdam.