“To say that nothing is sacred is to say that nothing is supernatural.”1
As Laboria Cuboniks and Helen Hester argue in “The Xenofeminist Manifesto: A Politics for Alienation”, we have established our position with technologised science, to which nothing is so sacred that it cannot be recreated or transformed. Nothing is so sacred that it is protected from the urge to know, the urge to explore. Consequently, nothing supernatural exists that cannot be transformed in the sense of science. The term ‘nature’ is representative of the vast playground of science, where everything is present, and everything is possible.
Neringa Vasiliauskaitė’s work explores this aspect of transformation from various aggregate states, time strands
and associated emotions and significance. Similar to science, anything is possible within art as a medium of translation of thought into materiality.
The room installation comprises two large-scale works on the wall, changing states (1) and (2), and a textile work on the floor – a carpet. The two hanging pieces, made of textile printed with a marble and stone pattern on a padded background, doused with silicone and a frame made of carved wood, blur the demarcation and meaning between image and frame, between inside and outside. The frame serves as the narration, the interior surface as its background. The matt surfaces are reminiscent of stone, of skin, or resemble a mirror that does not reflect. All elements of the two works are connected by a chain of different transformative states. A shift in conventions occurs, an inversion of texture that encourages reflection on surface, haptics and the impact of remembered images.
As psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu writes in his theoretical essay “The Skin Ego”, the function of the skin is a living boundary between the inner body and the outer world. He emphasises the importance of haptics, which can evoke memories through touch and sensations via the skin. This is the basis for the concept of the merging of childhood and adulthood through the skin, which functions as a space where early experiences and emotional connections are kept. In Neringa Vasiliauskaitė’s spatial installation, the boundary between childhood and adulthood blurs, the boundary between different times through their sensory and emotional stimuli.
The two works on the wall, placed almost opposite each other, open up a field of tension. In between the textile work covers the floor – a carpet bearing a ‘snake chain’, a symbolised snake placed on bright yellow sulphur stones. Through its repeated moulting processes, it embodies the state of transformation and is simultaneously fascinating and unsettling. The snake’s symbolism runs through all three works featured in the installation. It recurs in the two murals as twining branches of rose bushes and adorns the title of the exhibition as the support of one of the two works: I swear, I was there makes reference to the negotiation of the division between past and present, between the physical, the haptic and the digital. Digital communication has contributed to an altered sense of self, changing the demarcation between the body and the external world. I swear, I was there is a call to explore the fine line between inside and outside and to reflect on the understanding of identity and the relationship to the digital world and to develop a new sensitivity for the meaning of corporeality and memories in an increasingly networked society.
* Exhibition is funded by Lithuanian Council for Culture
Neringa Vasiliauskaitė solo show
I swear, I was there
Curated by Manuela Hillmann
Exhibition 21.05. – 18.06.2023
Taufkirchenerstr. 63 Hohenbrunn
1 The Xenofeminist Manifesto: A Politics for Alienation by Laboria Cuboniks, p. 64
Photography: Julia Milberger