Don’t be Afraid of Culture. And yes, It Will Definitely Give You a Heart Attack


So, a little workout for starters, my darlings. No, wait, where are you going with the weights and that bike? Ok, whatever, take the bike or the weights, or both. And yes, you can sit or you can stand. Whatever makes you feel comfortable. For a second. Cause soon this will get pretty unpleasant. Actually, I’m no longer sure if we need the workout at all, this whole scene was quite demanding itself. I think I can feel my neck hurting. Not sure if it’s because of the bike or the weights, or both. But damn, the timer is on, phone battery is low and there is no charger, as always. So, let’s just start that workout. In your head.


“I'm not sure if that 5 EUR cup with Kandinsky print on it is very abstract but the mixture* of little this and that that comes with is so far away from realism. 

*Not recommended before the gym.”

Close your eyes for a minute. It’s dark as hell. And I heard that you are afraid of darkness. Just as I am afraid of my morning alarm. Thousands could punch you in the face just for mentioning words “plane crash”. There is also the horrifying snake-spider classic; the chills you get before meeting ‘his’ parents, and this humble dialogue with the memory of that creepy clown from your cousins 8th birthday. 


I could go on and on with the list of things, people or situations that haunts us like a bad dream. But sometimes it seems to me like there is no bigger fear than the fear one gets while walking into an art museum, opening theatre doors, or trying to survive all the sophisticated small-talks in this AI conference boss sent them to. For 3 days straight.

Caught in a small-talk.

A piece by Aleksandra Wasilkowska from the exhibition Other Dances. Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw. 2018.

The fear of culture. Especially the uncomfortable parts of it. You know the ones that require at least PhD (in whatever), preparation and shitloads of money (cryptocurrencies included) in your pocket. High art, pop art, architecture, philosophy. You name it. 

The fear of something so distant and unknown, just like that 9th planet of the Solar system they found but never spoke much about. 

The fear of that far-away-from-welcoming-more-of-a-cold embrace culture gives us whispering silently “I’ve been waiting for you my dear darts-carbs-off-roading lover. We have a lot to catch up with. But, oh, there is not enough room for you here, actually, all the seats were taken earlier by Our People”.


The fear of a very pretentious construct made for a very pretentious group of very pretentious culture loving chicks that could probably quote some Pulitzer kind of author for hours. Or could do no worse than Pollock and his No. 5 with their eyes wide closed. People, living in Rem Koolhaas inspired houses that look like a sweet (most probably organic) candy. People who make you sick. 

All the blabbering chicks.

From the project BBB (Bamba Big Band) by Jurga Barilaite. Vartai Gallery, Vilnius. 2018.

See, I’m already throwing all these names at your non-PhD-non-prepared-poor-but-pretty face. 

I’m just like them. 

I am creating the distance. 

I am reminding why you don’t belong here. 

I’m waiting for the moment to hold up your hair while you throw up at all the pretentious culture loving chicks, blabbering about self-made-piano (don’t ask me, how they did that) concert they went to last weekend, or a writing slash knitting slash Esperanto language workshop Tom brought them, and it was a blast, don’t you doubt that. 

I’m reminding you of all the reasons that make culture your fear. And I’m reminding myself why we have never met in that art museum, or the theatre, or that AI conference.

Some numbers.

Máret Ánne Sara, Pile o'Sápmi for documenta 14. Kassel. 2017.

And yes, eye-rolling statistics enthusiast, I can hear you muttering about how we are the planet of brave hearts. Yes, people are not only social but cultural creatures as stats show us. And yes, 8 out of 10 Americans lifted up their asses and “participated in cultural activities at least once last year”. You know cinema, live performances and stuff. About 6 and a half (poor guy, it should definitely hurt) European did the same in 2015 in the Old Continent, the one that nurtured culture and spread it (well, sometimes with guns, sometimes with the very best intentions) in the wide world for centuries. And yes, whole Lithuania or any other 2,87 billion people country should visit MOMA more than twice to catch up with the annual visitor stats this diva-like museum can modestly put in colourful diagrams by the end of the year. 


There is no fear left in numbers like these. One movie or a concert is better than zero, statistically, no? It definitely is, and I definitely love facts, but this time I don’t care about the numbers that much. 

Because I don’t hear these numbers in the voices of people discussing the first (also could be the last one) modern ballet they just saw. People feeling too distant and underprivileged to say, “No, man, I didn’t like it”. People choosing to say “Well, I’m no pro”. And of course, they are no pros. Show me a ballet pro knowing how to code (I know, you could).


I don’t see these numbers in the eyes of people passing by the gallery they could visit for free because it is Tuesday. They just don’t know it is free that day. Because the last time they came, that old lady in the corner didn’t seem too happy about them wandering and speaking loudly in the main exhibition hall. So, of course, why not to leave it all to herself and never come back to the place less welcoming than favelas in Rio.

I don’t smell these numbers in the air where oxygen is playing war with all the strange tastes making it hard to breathe when you just want a simple americano but all the pretentious experts try to soak you up with some three-dimensional-brew-filtered miracle in a little porcelain cup.

NASA photos from The Moon exhibition. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk. 2018.

A month or something ago I found myself in this heaven-on-Earth kind of place – Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The splendid gift Denmark gave us 60 years ago celebrates not only its anniversary this year, but also welcomes 200 artworks, science artefacts, NASA records and plenty of other stuff commemorating the 50th B-day of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in the special exhibition. Now that sounds like a legit thing where PhDs, preparation and shitloads of money were needed trying to make man’s first step on the Moon to happen. 


Imagine yourself 50 years ago being faster than Neil Armstrong and making the first step on the Moon. Sounds thrilling and terrifying multiplied 100 times, right? Cause that’s the real deal of a thing one can be afraid of. Or the death of his turtle. Or the bad tan lines.

Culture is not the one to be on the list of fears. Because history- Massachusetts’s scientists-life show us that you don’t need to be a pro, or pay attention to the angry lady in the corner of the gallery, or try the pretentious tastes they offer you. Because (un)consciously you come for the little heart attacks culture brings you all wrapped up in beauty-pain-determination-questions-the whole universe. Heart attacks that cut the distance, erase that gut-non-welcoming-feeling and make you mute all the pretentious chicks in your head. Heart attacks that leave you hungry for more. 

Never had one? 

Yes, the heart attack. 

Then hurry up, finish the workout already and leave that bike with the weights for gods sake. Cause I’m here in that art museum and the theatre, and that AI conference for you. To be hit by one. And grow some hunger inside. I mean if you want to. 

The everlasting heart attack all wrapped up in beauty-pain-determination-questions-the whole universe.

Landscape by Rimvidas Jankauskas-Kampas, 1989. From the exhibition Silent Collections. National Gallery of Art, Vilnius. 2018.

Lina BernotaityteComment