Those were the days, when we were all in the sea. It seems like it was only yesterday. Species, gender, race, nation, class… back then, none of that mattered. No parents, no children. No future, no past. We were ourselves, the braids of inseparable sisters. Warm and moist, proudly unselective, unafraid of the occasional serendipitous relationship.
Our fishy aquatic past, having crawled out onto the shore on weak, just-sprouted legs, has preserved its oceanic surroundings within itself. This marine environment led us into the future: it used us as bags of liquid even after we had learned to walk on two legs. In this telling of the story, there is an important role for the bag. According to author Ursula Le Guin, the carrier bag, not the sharpened weapon, was the first tool of civilisation. It let us accumulate objects and establish relationships with them. Extending this important observation about the roots of civilisation, Astrida Neimanis, a Canadian hydrofeminist of Latvian descent, proposes looking at our bodies as evolutionary carrier bags of water, which, like the ocean, as a collector of various organs and materials, has historically created the conditions and opportunities for new forms of cooperation or futures. According to Neimanis, our bodies not only had to be a watery prenatal environment for our offspring; they also became a welcoming liquid medium in which different species were able to co-exist temporarily or permanently. These carrier bags full of water were our first tool of embodied social commonality.
We would like to imagine this Nemuno7 exhibition space in a similar way, as an analogy to that carrier bag described by Ursula Le Guin, said by Astrida Neimanis to be used by bodies as bags of water, in which the concentrated oceans inside us remain even today. As an accumulator of flows and currents, which gives birth to new relationships among objects and which can perhaps help us imagine and create new futures.
It’s also time to have a talk about the present moment. Today, full as it is of ecological and other crises, promises us even more anxious futures. In the contemporary world, it becomes ever more difficult to name and comprehend such ambiguous terms and phenomena as ecosystem, climate change, differing concepts of ecology, new materialities or contemporarity. The location of the Nemuno7 project and the specificity of the site inevitably connects the exhibition programme with such ecothinking keywords as water and fluidity, flow, currents, river migration and transport, hydroecology, hydrofeminism, river basins and communities, sustainability, carbon footprint, post-anthropocentrism, bioethics, new materialism, ethnofuturism and many others.
In the first paragraphs of this text, you can find references to a description of the opera created by Lithuanian artists that won a Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 58th Venice Art Biennale (2019), the theorist of liquid modernity Zygmunt Bauman, poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, cyberfeminist and author Sadie Plant or the already-mentioned Astrida Neimanis. The latter claims in her writings that due to our oceanic origin, the interior of our organisms is like an internal ocean, so we should think more often about the solidarity between our bodies full of water and our watery identities. Today we see ever-acidifying oceans, dying coral reefs, reckless harvesting of fish, the Baltic Sea experiencing eutrophication even as it ranks as one of the most toxic bodies of water in the world, and other polluted sources of water for which we should feel a much greater sense of responsibility.
Water, flowing through various materialities, our bodies, people and non-people, joins us together, and is the very foundation for our interaction and circulation in the broader socio-political ecosystem. The Nemuno7 exhibition programme has been designed accordingly. The participating artists touch on the most varied ecological concepts and forms of cooperation or action in their works. Later, directly or by association, others expand on, supplement and reflect on them in still other ways. The artists and their works have their own individual histories of participation in or of belonging to different ecosystems of art. Nevertheless, we recommend trying to understand this five-part exhibition cycle in its entirety, through the creation of mutual interconnections with other works and viewers in the circle formed by the entire cycle. In other words, we encourage you to return more often and to become a connecting and returning part within the ecosystem of this cycle of exhibitions.
In chronological order, the following artists will present their work in 2022: Tomas Daukša, Goda Palekaitė and Adrijana Gvozdenović, Gailė Cijūnaitytė, Anastasia Sosunova, Aistė Ambrazevičiūtė, Henrikas Gulbinas, Ieva Kotryna Ski, Robertas Narkus and Autarkia, Kamilė Krasauskaitė, Mindaugas Gapševičius and others.
Exhibition programme, May–October 2022
Curator Valentinas Klimašauskas
More information: https://www.nemuno7.lt/en/flowing-bodies/
Photography: Lukas Mykolaitis