21 November - 31 December 2008
Liudvikas Buklys & Antanas Gerlikas
AND THEN CAME JOHNY
Tulips & Roses is delighted to announce an exhibition by Liudvikas Buklys and Antanas Gerlikas.
Edgar Allan Poe opens his detective story Murders in the Rue Morgue with a theoretical question - what does it take to become a successful detective? This question could be paraphrased: is it de?nite that a good detective makes a good chess player? Is there a ?xed set of rules for a detective to base his career on? Or is it completely opposite and a great insight is neither a chess strategy nor a mathematical skill? According to Poe, the prevalent image of a detective as a master chess player is useless. What a chess player possesses is no more than a good memory - ability to apply a certain set of rules in order to foresee as many future moves as possible. Chess is actually a shallow game. The different value of each chess ?gure and the apparently in?nite number of game scenarios simply disguise the fact that all the possible combinations are con?ned within a basic set of rules and the ?xed ?eld of the chessboard.
As Poe puts it, chess could never be as sophisticated a game as checkers. Only the less observant could claim that a game of checkers ends when there are only a few pieces left on the board, when both parties can already anticipate the ?nal result. On the contrary, in this ?nal moment the game breaks out of all the set rules – the victory belongs to the one that knows his or her rival best. "Deprived of ordinary resources, the analyst throws himself into the spirit of his opponent, identi?es himself therewith, and not unfrequently sees thus, at a glance, the sole methods (sometimes indeed absurdly simple ones) by which he may seduce into error or hurry into miscalculation" - writes Poe. The movements, glances, and even the color of your opponent’s face tell so much more than the position of the pieces on the checkers board. At this point, it is not the rules that direct your moves – on the contrary, an unexpected move can create its own rule. In other words, playing with rules appears to be the main rule of the game.
As artists Liudvikas Buklys and Antanas Gerlikas share detective Dupin’s vision. Dupin himself is neither a completely rational person nor a prophet blessed with supernatural powers. His secret weapon is his ability to become somebody else, to inhabit the bodies of his rivals. "When I wish to ?nd out how wise, or how stupid, or how good, or how wicked is any one, or what are his thoughts at the moment, I fashion the expression of my face, as accurately as possible, in accordance with the expression of his, and then wait to see what thoughts or sentiments arise in my mind or heart, as if to mach or correspond with the expression" - tells us Dupin. It is not one's intellectual capability that makes one a good detective, it is the ability to think according to the system that your opponent uses. It is not enough to see through a person – a true detective has to become a mirror for the eyes of his adversaries. This is precisely what Antanas and Liudvikas do. They always play according to the rules of the viewer. The latter is left to decide the order of words and things. However, suddenly one notices it changing – the letters are still there but I cannot read them. My re?ection in the mirror moves just before I decide to. I do not mean to say that Antanas and Liudvikas construct Trojan horses in the viewer's head or that they play with perception. It never happens that the 'content' of their work would appear to be different from the 'surface'. Everything is far more subtle. In his Islands of History, Marshall Sahlins describes Captain James Cook‘s ?rst visit to the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Today it is even dif?cult to imagine the shift in perception that the Western Fleet brought to the natives the moment they appeared on the horizon. Native Hawaiians must have suddenly faced a completely different reality - a reality they had no means to deal with. Yet Sahlins gives us a completely different picture. When Cook made his ?rst step on the Hawaiian islands, he was already perceived as the Polynesian god Lono who returned to Hawaii to restore the fertility of the soil. Since then, Cook scrupulously carried out all the duties attributed to Lono by the local customs. There never was a moment of clash between the local and the Western cultures. Unintentionally, Captain Cook started acting as Lono, while Hawaiians immersed themselves into the commercial system of the West. The change of the world was supposed to appear as a miracle yet it merged perfectly with everyday life. Could this change also happen within the limits of an exhibition? It probably could.