Cooltūristės is an anonymous group of Lithuanian women artists. It was spontaneously founded in Vilnius at the opening of an exhibition called “heroes of our time” in 2005. As a group of women activists, their goal was to critically engage with the art scene and with the nationalisation and commercialisation of the public realm. They passed around manifestoes with slogans like “Away with all male heroes!” The name Cooltūristės sounds both like the Lithuanian word kultūristės, which means “bodybuilder”, and the English words “cool tourists”. In the role of tourists and aliens who wear costumes reminiscent of cosmonaut suits, they perform in the public realm or appear in video productions. Cooltūristės perform all over Europe, and they occasionally collaborate with Mare Tralla (see TRA 1-2), for example, in the art centre Łaźnia in Gdańsk, Poland, in 2012. They have also done a performance to protest against the male-dominated selection for the Lithuanian pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011 as well as performing at the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Centre in Vilnius in 2009. JE, BK
In the video performance Kosminis darželis (Cosmic Kindergarten) four people wearing white coveralls and black welding masks manoeuvre through a playground reminiscent of Art Nouveau architecture in the Karoliniškes district of Vilnius. Their movements seem slowed down by technical manipulation. The inserted intertitles – Mėnulio (moon), Kosmonautų (cosmonaut), Žaibo (lightning), Viesulo (whirlwind), Perkūno (thunder) and Žvaigždžių (star) – seem like stations on a journey through time and space. They remind us of the city’s “cosmic” past – a time when bus stops, businesses and streets were named after planets and cosmonauts. Impossible to identify as individuals, the figures float through a decrepit world from another era. The present is only endurable through wearing protective gear, and public spaces can only be reclaimed through bodily and poetic actions.