Lithuanian Pavilion receives Golden Lion for the best National Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale

May 11, 2019
Author Echo Gone Wrong

58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia’s Golden Lion for Best National Participation awarded to Lithuanian Pavilion

The award of the International Jury – comprising Stephanie Rosenthal (President of the Jury, Germany), Defne Ayas (Turkey/Netherlands), Cristiana Collu (Italy), Sunjung Kim (Korea), and Hamza Walker (USA) – has been presented with the following motivation for the Golden Lion for Best National Participation to Lithuania for the experimental spirit of the Pavilion and its unexpected treatment of national representation. The jury was impressed with the inventive use of the venue to present a Brechtian opera as well as the Pavilion’s engagement with the city of Venice and its inhabitants. Sun & Sea (Marina) is a critique of leisure and of our times as sung by a cast of performers and volunteers portraying everyday people.

The Awards Ceremony of the 58th International Art Exhibition took place today, 11th May 2019, at Ca’Giustinian, Venice.

Lithuanian Pavilion

11 May–31 October, 2019

Open: Tue–Sun, 10:00–18:00
Performance: Sat, 10:00–18:00
Location: Marina Militare, Calle de la Celestia (near Campo de la Celestia), Castello, 30122 Venice, Italy (Map)

Sun & Sea (Marina) is an opera-performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė, curated by Lucia Pietroiusti, commissioned by Rasa Antanavičiūtė and Jean-Baptiste Joly.

Imagine a beach – you within it, or better: watching from above – the burning sun, sunscreen and bright bathing suits and sweaty palms and legs. Tired limbs sprawled lazily across a mosaic of towels. Imagine the occasional squeal of children, laughter, the sound of an ice cream van in the distance. The musical rhythm of waves on the surf, a soothing sound (on this particular beach, not elsewhere). The crinkling of plastic bags whirling in the air, their silent floating, jellyfish-like, below the waterline. The rumble of a volcano, or of an airplane, or a speedboat. Then a chorus of songs: everyday songs, songs of worry and of boredom, songs of almost nothing. And below them: the slow creaking of an exhausted Earth, a gasp.

A new opera-performance by filmmaker and director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, writer Vaiva Grainytė and artist and composer Lina Lapelytė, Sun & Sea (Marina) brings a varying cast of more than 20 participants and singers together for a durational installation/performance blurring the edges between fiction and reality and addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time.

Sun & Sea (Marina) takes place on an artificial beach composed through light, architecture and music. Vacationers in colourful bathing suits are lying next to each other on a sandy ground, while the audience observes them from above, as though from the point of view of the sun. In the heat of midday, characters begin telling their stories. Frivolous micro-stories slowly give rise to broader, more serious topics and grow into a global symphony, a universal human choir addressing planetary-scale, anthropogenic climate change. In the work, the physical finitude and fatigue of the human body becomes a metonym for an exhausted Earth. The setting—a crowded beach in summer—paints an image of laziness and lightness. In this context, the message follows suit: serious topics unfold easily, softly—like a pop song on the very last day on Earth.

An ecological play at its very core, Sun & Sea (Marina) concerns itself with the way in which we—our human species—consistently fails to recognise those planetary-scale threats and urgencies we ourselves are the cumulative cause of.

Opening Events

Vernissage week: 7–12.5.2019 10:00–19:00
Official opening: 10.5.2019 16:00
Opening Talk: Daisy Hildyard

Daisy Hildyard is a novelist and academic. Hildyard has a PhD on early-modern scientific literature. Her first novel, Hunters in the Snow received the Somerset Maugham Award and a ‘5 under 35’ honorarium at the USA National Book Awards. She currently runs a research project on animals and fiction at Northumbria University, and is working on a novel about nonhuman forms of life. Her latest book, The Second Body, is an essay on the Anthropocene.

Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė (b.1983, based in Vilnius) works as filmmaker and theatre director. In her creative practice, Rugilė explores the gap between objective and imagined realities, while challenging an anthropocentric way of thinking in a playful way. Her recent full-length film-essay Acid Forest was awarded at the Locarno International Film Festival this year and is extensively traveling in film festivals around the world.

Vaiva Grainytė (b.1984, based in Vilnius) is a writer, playwright, and poet. Her writer’s practice usually crosses the confinesboundaries of desk work and becomes an integral part of an interdisciplinary polylogue. Her handwriting exhibits the features typical of her oeuvre: personal and collective memory, daily routine and social issues are in harmony with poetic and ironic approach.

Lina Lapelytė (b.1984, based in Vilnius and London) is an artist, musician and composer. Her performance-based practice is rooted in music and flirts with pop culture, gender stereotypes and nostalgia. Lapelytė’s works were presented at KIM? in Riga, Rupert in Vilnius (solo exhibition), gallery 1857 in Oslo, the Modern Art Museum in Malmo, MACBA in Barcelona, DRAF in London. Upcoming shows include Cartier Foundation in Paris, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Kunsthalle Praha.

Sun & Sea (Marina) is the second collaboration for the three artists. Their contemporary opera, Have a Good Day! premiered in 2013 is touring worldwide. Have a Good Day! won six international awards in Europe, and it has been performed in  more than twenty festivals, as well as broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and the Lithuanian National Radio. In 2018 at the Golden Cross awards in Lithuania the artists were awarded the Borisas Dauguvietis prize for their innovative and original ideas. In their collaborative practice, the artists pay special attention to the relationship between documentary and fiction, reality and poetry as well as the overlap of theatre, music and the visual arts.

Commissioner and Producer Dr Rasa Antanavičiūtė is the developer and the executive director of Nida Art Colony of the Vilnius Academy of Arts. She acts as curator, producer and manager of art and education projects such as residencies, exhibitions and the Nida Doctoral School. Rasa has a PhD degree in art history. Her research focuses on symbols of political powers in public spaces and their functions as identity builders and memory constructors.

Honorary Commissioner Jean-Baptiste Joly is the founder, former head and art director of Akademie Schloss Solitude — the largest artist residency program in Germany. Joly is a Board Member of Kunstmuseum in Stuttgart, a member of the advisory board of Transcultural Exchange Boston, the Honorary Professor of Berlin Weißensee School of Art, and a board member of numerous cultural foundations.

Curator of the pavilion, Lucia Pietroiusti is Curator of General Ecology and Live Programmes at London’s Serpentine Galleries. Pietroiusti has programmed and curated performances and series including Park Nights, Serpentine Cinema and the long durational symposium on interspecies consciousness, The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish (with Filipa Ramos). As part of the General Ecology project, Pietroiusti is currently researching eco-feminism, new materialisms, mysticism, environmental humanities and complexity theories across disciplines.

Performers: Evaldas Alekna, Aliona Alymova, Emma Grace Arkin, Svetlana Bagdonaitė, Amanda Balnionytė, Francisco Bois, Bruce Boreham, Ugnė Bulavaitė, Ana Carolina de Paula, Dominyka Čiplytė, Marco Cisco, Nabila Dandara, Auksė Dovydėnaitė, Saulė Dovydėnaitė, Daniel Monteagudo Garcia, Claudia Graziadei, Rachael Haber, Jenni Lea Jones, Magdalena Kozlovskaja, Austėja Masliukaitė, Augustas Lapinskas, Chiara Maccatrozzo, Artūras Miknaitis, Justina Mykolaitytė, Hazar Mürşit, Yates Norton, Vytautas Pastarnokas, Eglė Paškevičienė, Kalliopi Petrou, Alessandra Quattrini, Sara Righetto, Ieva Skorubskaitė, Lukas Vaičiūnas, Eglė Valčiukaitė, Enrico Zagni, volunteer beach goers.

Presented by Lithuanian Council for Culture, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
Organised by Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts.
Strategic Partners: Vilnius Academy of Arts, Marina Militare, Arsenale di Venezia.

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