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Ona Juciūtė participates in the Mahalla Festival

Ona Juciūtė. Picture by Anna Melnykova

Ona Juciūtė, born in Lithuania in 1988, is one of the artists participating in the Mahalla Festival. Ona Juciūtė has an artist residency in the frame  MagiC Carpets which is a Creative Europe project uniting 16 European cultural organisations that create opportunities for emerging artists to embark on journeys to unknown lands and to create, together with local artists and local communities, new works that highlight local specificities. 

Ona Juciūtė works in the visual and sculptural field, and she has been awarded with the JCDecaux prize as the best young artist in 2016, as well as the prize Aleksandra Kasubiene 2017. In 2021 her scuptures were included in the permanent collection of Kiasma contemporary art museum in Helsinki. Juciūtė is specially interested in how things are made and how they work, in the origins and use of materials and their multiple applications and combinations. She got in touch with Diyalog by Lithuanian curator Brigita Bareikyte, who sent her portfolio to the organisation, and she was finally selected. This is not Juciūtė’s first time in Istanbul, as she spent some time there ten years ago, and she couldn’t seem to forget it. 


Ona Juciūtė – Interview

By Maëla Sanmartín

Shot from Mahalla Festival in Istanbul, installation by Ona Juciūtė


Why and when did you realise that you wanted to work in the art field?

Drawing out my thoughts was a very big urge when I was little. I still vividly remember the struggle of not being able to visualise the ideas I had. It is never the struggle today though.

I think the art field allows us to jump between disciplines like no other field. I guess therefore I ended up making art. I never had a goal to become an artist – I was already doing what is called art today, when I understood that maybe it suits my moda operandi.


What other hobbies do you have, apart from sculpture and visual art?

I would not call sculpture a hobby, it is more a way of thinking to me. A mode of existence by thinking without thinking if it makes sense. A very visual way of thinking about the found world – its material, plasticity, shape and content. When talking about my interests, I also find animals, furniture, markets, fiction, currencies, logistics and home-museums fascinating.


In the world obsessed with results and finished products we, as artists, can defend unfinished business


When is an artwork/project finished for you?

It depends. Sometimes, a formal end matches the institutional deadline of an exhibition. Other times some topics and situations take longer to solve. I like to take my time, not force it, repeat things if I must and never claim that something is finished. I want to think that in the world obsessed with result and finished products we, as artists, can defend unfinished business – slow, long, ever-lasting, non-progressive creative process.


How much time passes from the moment you “finish” an artwork/project to the moment you begin a new one?

I do not really see my projects as separate entities. One thing leads to another and almost always new ideas grow out of something that was a leftover of a previous work. I like to think of my process as something continuous rather than isolated. Like a one body with many parasites.


How do you get inspired when creating a new artwork/project?

The world and situations we find are charged with material and meaning. Oftentimes we have no tools to fully see it and comprehend. As I work with material I like to think about where things come from and how they shift their shape. Almost always I find something that is not what it seems. This is how I start.


I want to believe that art has the right to be as complex and ever-changing as the world


With which artistic movements do you feel more identified?

It is so hard to say. Movements tend to be a finished set of ideas and principles, helping the viewers to navigate what we see, like a glance towards the past. I want to believe that art has the right to be as complex and ever-changing as the world, non concluded pool. Or, even better – rivers, with many conflicting animals, breeds, micro organisms, invasive species, endangered species etc. I like to think, maybe in a very naive way, that I create in the present, so my practice is a blend of different ways of seeing. I can say that new materialism plays a role, but then again I find quite some stuff complicated there. I also like to think that my projects have a lot to do with storytelling, but I also have a complicated relationship to history. So, in the end it is like a patchwork of different movements, ideas and strategies. This is I guess the biggest privilege of being an artist – freedom of shifting between influences and movements.


“Joiners”, solo show by Ona Juciūtė @ CCA Derry~Londonderry, NI, UK, 2022. Picture by Simon Mills.


What do you like the most about intercultural encounters?

It helps me reconsider what I took as default.


There is a lot of competitiveness in the art world. Have you felt it or experienced it? In what way?

It is hard for me to say if art is more competitive than other fields. I just had a discussion with a friend about how comparison is in human nature, I guess this is the root of all the competition. Can we say that we compare ourselves more than other field practitioners? I am not so sure. Maybe it has something to do with jealousy –  being jealous of a brilliant idea, that someone else got. But to see a great show by someone else and get inspired is one of the best feelings. Whenever I think oh, how did I not think of that myself, it wakes me up and makes me more aware of my surroundings, keeps me awake and elevated in a way.


Have you made a lot of sacrifices during your artistic journey?

I guess I have sacrificed some stability, but I gained something else instead. So it was a willing trade  rather than sacrifice. I am still not entirely sure what I got instead, but it seems to work so far.


“Joiners”, solo show by Ona Juciūtė @ CCA Derry~Londonderry, NI, UK, 2022. Picture by Simon Mills.


Art makes me laugh and cry by showing me things I would skip otherwise


Does art make you happy? Why and how?

It really does – it makes me laugh and cry by showing me things I would skip otherwise. And this goes for both creating and seeing art. I still believe that art manages to be the space for nuance.


What does art mean for you?

The freedom to skip the questions of meaning and focus on the rest.


What is the best part of working in the art field?

Let’s say it allows me to live the life of someone with every new research. But even that said,

I also do not think that the art world is so much different from other fields.


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