Sun & Sea
Lina Lapelyte, Vaiva Grainyte and Rugile Barzdziukaite
Interview with the curator Lucia Pietroiusti
On the occasion of the 58th Venice Biennale we have interviewed LUCIA PIETROIUSTI, curator of the LITHUANIAN Pavilion, AWARED WITH the Golden Lion for best national participation.
Where do we need to go to visit The Lithuanian Pavilion?
Lucia Pietroiusti The Lithuanian Pavilion, located in a Magazzino within the Marina Militare complex, marks the first time ever that this area of the Military zone is open to the public. Easily accessible from both Arsenale and Celestia (12 minute walk from Arsenale stop, 2 minutes from Celestia), the Pavilion creates an artificial beach within a large indoor structure. Extensive work to the structure has been undertaken to accommodate the Pavilion, which marks one of the many ways in which the Lithuanian Pavilion this year aims to work on the territory of Venice in a way that is long-term and sustainable. By way of another example, the vinyl/catalogue we have produced, designed by Åbäke, was printed in Venice at Grafiche Veneziane - the only lithographic printers in Venice - and then subsequently screenprinted at MaleFatte - Rio Terà dei Pensieri, a co-operative run by inmates of the male prison of Santa Maria Maggiore. This was part of Åbäke's ongoing practice of connecting different organisations and individuals who work in Venice through joint and collaborative projects and processes.
What will we see? Can you tell us about the setting and how the public will interact with the performance that will take place in the pavilion? Will there be a particular point of view and therefore a distance between the action and spectators like in a theater?
LP Placing the audience in a bird's eye (or 'sun's eye') position, the opera-performance Sun & Sea (Marina) is viewed from a mezzanine above the level of the performers. The performers will be lying on the 'beach' (an indoor, artificial recreation of a crowded beach scene), as though they were holiday-goers, and singing lying down, facing the sky. In lieu of the sky, the audience watches from above. In this way, the everyday scene of the beach also reveals the fragility of the human condition, a theme which is explored in depth in the libretto. Indeed, each song within the hour-long loop narrates an everyday conversation, thought or musing of the characters we see below, but over the course of the performance, a deep-rooted anxiety around climate change and the environment begins to emerge, much like the low-level rumblings of a geological event. Tired bodies, lazily sprawled across the beach, become a metonym for an exhausted planet. But in a style which is extremely characteristic of the artists' work, the themes are unfolded with relative ease and humour - jellyfish swirling around plastic bags perform a kind of dance in one character's imagination, and we - the audience - placed at a distance, are the ones left connecting the dots.
Lina Lapelyte, Vaiva Grainyte and Rugile Barzdziukaite come from different backgrounds: not only visual arts, but also poetry, theater, music and dramaturgy. How do these heterogeneous worlds coexist in the same installation?
LP As in the tradition of theatre and opera, Sun & Sea (Marina) is a collaboration between different professional backgrounds, skillsets and passions - a true chorus of perspectives coming together in a single work. The artists collaborated together on another, award-winning opera, Have a Good Day!, on the daily lives of female supermarket-checkout workers. While the three constitutive elements of the performance (stage design/direction, libretto, music) could be attributed to each individual artist, their work is peculiar in the fact that each one of these elements has been developed collaboratively. In much the same way as the individual lives and stories unfolded throughout the performance by the characters occasionally come together in a choir, this is truly the vision of three, made one.
What seems to be unmissable at this year's Biennale?
LP I am particularly excited about the French Pavilion - Laure Prouvost is just brilliant - as well as the Ghana Pavilion, including a phenomenal list of artists brought together by one of the most exciting young curatorial voices working today. Given my current project at the Serpentine Galleries in London - General Ecology, a project that brings together research around ecology, the environment, climate change, plant intelligence and other related themes through live events, publications, radio and exhibitions - I also look forward to all the Pavilions and artworks that reflect on ecological concerns and ways in which these intersect with questions of rights - both human and non-human. The Future Generation Art Prize exhibition features several artists who have participated and will participate in the General Ecology project - Emilija Skarnulyte and Cooking Sections to name but two. Lastly, Ralph Rugoff's curated exhibition includes the work of many artists I have worked with and hugely admire - too many to name.
Ph. Gabrielė Šėgždė