Vilnius, Lithuania 2009

Artothlon was a reality television show about competitive art making that aired in July and August, 2009 on LTV, Lithuanian National Television. I applied to be on the show, well no, my friend Nate applied for me without my knowing, and finally told me once both he and I were selected as finalists for the project. After a Skype interview with Zilvinas Lilas and Mindaugus Gaspevicius, the project coordinators, we were both selected as participants, and headed out to Vilnius to become Lithuanian TV Stars.

As part of the 2009 Vilnius Capital of Culture programming, the show aimed to pit collaborative teams against each other in a competitive art making contest that would air on television. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the TV station took too much interest in the show, turning it into an actual reality tv show rather than a conceptual art project. From the beginning things were rocky between the artists and the production team. Four contestants quit before the show even started filming. Zilvinas quit soon after he arrived in Vilnius. The more tempestuous the show was turning out to be, the more I became interested in the project however, and in the beginning found myself trying to moderate between the artists and the producers to ensure the show would actually take place.

Once filming commenced, the absurdity and exploitation that the artists feared started to increasingly appear, while the novelty and irony of being on an Eastern European TV started to decline rapidly. After three episodes I had had enough, and in the wee hours of the morning, packed up and bolted for Latvia, leaving an empty room for the TV crew the next day. The next day, nine more artists were fired from the show for insubordination, and Artothlon officially became a disaster. For any of the few Lithuanians watching the show, the fourth show surprised them with nine new contestants! As I was not one of these few spectators, I did not see the rest of the show, but I heard that the winning team’s prize was to get to design a sculpture in a sculpture park outside of Vilnius. I’m glad I got out when I did.

First Day of ShootingFirst Challenge: open the wad of tinfoil-
if you don’t get a banana, you’re eliminated!
The Teams (Clockwise from left) Untitled, Die Kitchen, Error, Blue

Rafal performs as Henry Darger

Tom is Missing! Peace out Artothlon!