Project space Swallow is focused on managing, producing and exhibiting original curatorial and artistic projects, and will also develop arts-based educational programmes and introduce young Lithuanian and Baltic art abroad.
06 08 2020 – 17 09 2020
Artists: Gabrielė Adomaitytė, Viltė Bražiūnaitė ir Tomas Sinkevičius, Martin Ebner, Agnė Jokšė, Ona Juciūtė, Laura Kaminskaitė and Nicholas Matranga.
Curators: Edgaras Gerasimovičius, Audrius Pocius, Vaida Stepanovaitė.
In search of an accurate description of the feeling that has enwrapped everything around us today, perhaps by chance, what came to our minds was Stanislovas Bohušas-Sestšencevičius’s 1917 painting ‘Children of Vilnius’. It came and it never left.
This painting depicts three boys, a girl and a dog, whose different characters are united by their deep gazes, all directed somewhere beyond the picture. In the monumental canvas, the evening sky, painted in colours of fire and stretched under the feet of the children, freezes on the red tiles on the city’s roofs, while the children, hovering above the city in black uniforms, look as if they themselves had just escaped a fire. Their confused eyes, piercing the space around them, seem to be fixed by invisible forces, placing their bodies into awkward poses and distorting their faces, but not in any way capturing the attention of the accompanying dog. What do these gazes, different in emotion yet directed to the same obscure target, tell us? Do they see the same thing?
The painting was created in a time permeated with uncertainty and doubts about the future caused by the changing geopolitical and social situation of that time. Only one thing was clear then – life would have to be completely different than before, because after what had happened, nothing could remain the same. Although in a little over a hundred years the world has changed beyond recognition, the sense of inevitable change and uncertainty seen in the eyes of the children seems strangely familiar and close to us today.
The exhibition Palydos opens at a time when the world is becoming increasingly difficult to recognize due to the changing social and natural climate, and today is also shaken by a seemingly unstoppable virus. Reality has become opaque and dense, permeated with expectations, intuitions and anxiety, while stories and fictions have turned into a way to both protect ourselves and accept the vanishing past, as well as to create a still-uncertain future. These thickening feelings become a kind of grey zone, encouraging either to close ourselves off radically and seek to preserve the old world order, or to look for ways to communicate and function in this reality, apparently so much greater than us. Thus, this feeling can simultaneously act as both an opening and a closing force. It is now more and more evident that the ability to meaningfully share this sense of uncertainty is a like skill that we develop every day – a skill increasingly important in finding ways to communicate in society.
The painting ‘Children of Vilnius’ became an allegory describing our relationship with the city during this transition period, while Palydos – Swallow’s first exhibition – marks this journey from one uncertainty towards another. It features new works created for this exhibition by artists who have an intimate relationship with Vilnius and see it from different artistic and social perspectives. In these works, the all-encompassing uncertainty is revealed not so much as a desire to find answers or solutions, but rather as an opportunity to take a fresh look at what is being asked. This is done with unplanned hints and gestures that create meanings in the interrelationship of the works, when one piece begins to subconsciously continue the story of another, often impossible to tell in words.
Works presented in the exhibition:
SLC6A4, oil and acrylics on canvas, 150 x 110 cm, 2020
Gabrielė’s Adomaitytė’s piece SLC6A4 is part of an ongoing series of works, in which personal stories told by the artist intertwine with visually interpreted material aspects of archives, encyclopaedias and information in general. The work exhibited in the exhibition reveals the artist’s relationship with digital family trees created on platforms such as Geni or Ancestry based on family members’ DNA test results and virtual kinship. In the plane of the pictures, the artist creates a fictional infographic while employing different techniques and applying many layers coming from metrics, found in digitizes archives in the church of the village, where her great-grandparents used to live. These almost illegible handwritten documents are then combined with medical nanophotographs of chemical reactions, illustrations from the Natural History encyclopaedia (the mushroom illustration in the left-hand corner of the canvas), and hints of skeuomorphic design devices.
Viltė Bražiūnaitė & Tomas Sinkevičius
Honies, 3 compositions, UV photography, digital print, aluminum frame, glass, 80 x 60 cm, 2020
Honies is a series of sunflower portraits taken with an ultraviolet camera on a hot and radiant summer day. The ultraviolet camera reveals how harmful UV radiation invisible to the human eye illuminates the bodies. Ultraviolet photographs show dark stretches in the heads of sunflowers – bee landing sites. Bees see ultraviolet light and use it to collect pollen, directing their routes towards the patterned petals. The bees remember the plants they visited and collect pollen of the same colour and type during one flight – this consistency is also reflected in the series of the sunflower photographs.
Sunflowers were chosen for their exceptional appearance – their “heads”, facing the light as if solar collectors, following the path of the sun. Exhausted and withered by the heat of the sun, the sunflowers look into the camera lens and become images fluctuating between the styles of portrait photography and scientific documentation.
11:11, grass curtain for facade, 2020
The work consists of several long bunches of locally grown sweetgrass, suspended from a metal ring structure outside in ten meters height on the facade of the building where Swallow art space is located. While the fresh cut grass leaves are drying in the weeks after the opening, and changing their colour from green to yellow, the installation emits a distinct and pleasant scent, possibly to be percieved even from within the exhibition. At the same time it will constantly be exposed and reacting to the current wind situation around the house, sometimes appearing turbulent and exaggerated, sometimes calm and barely moving.
Sunlight will pass through the moving leaves and animate the floor and walls inside. At darker, calmer days the grass will dim the outside light and create a transparent threshold, with the possibility to be put aside and opened like a curtain.
It is a temporary work, not intended to stay permanently. Decay is part of its conception. It will decompose and probably vanish into the surrounding throughout the course of the year. The labour involved is dedicated to this transition, and, as barely measurable it may be, to the affect which is connected to the recognition of the presence, shift or loss of life, and memory.
Lesbovilles, performance, text, 2020
Using the tools typical of autoethnography, Agnė Jokšė tells personal stories in which the artist’s experiences and past events related to contemplations of love, intimacy and friendship intertwine with imaginative reflections on the world surrounding these events. Jokšė’s works explore the feelings that arise within the artist’s relationship with the queer community and the “normalizing” social, political, and cultural tendencies of today. In their form and rhetoric, these works often resemble an intimate letter or a diary entry, which, unlike usual to this type of texts, is not so much protected or archived, but rather carelessly left to the will of fate – and the viewer.
Lesbovilles is an erotic story about lesbian love in the background of the Lazdynai district where the artist grew up. The residential houses lined up in front of each other in this neighbourhood create a situation of a kind of panopticon, when everyone watches everyone, so any intimate gesture becomes both private and public at the same time. In Jokšės’s story, this situation becomes a medium for spreading a sexual, unbridled fantasy, which, unfolding within the artist’s relationship with her lovers, paints the seemingly silent concrete walls of the district’s buildings and penetrates the lives and thoughts of the people living there.
Visitors of the opening of Palydos were able to witness Agnė Jokšė’s performance, which later appeared in the exhibition itself in the form of a performance libretto.
Weekends, Bruno Mathsson Pernilla’s chair, silk, silk tulle, silk strips, cotton stripe, 99 x 85 x 90 cm, 2020.
Material from the YouTube channel Windysilk displayed on a monitor, 2019–2020
In her work, Ona Juciūtė deconstructs household items such as furniture and deprives them of their usual function. The artist creates objects by rearranging and reconstructing these items, at the same time giving them a unique, almost anthropomorphic character. This special character poetically speaks of the elusive and incomprehensible boundaries between nature and culture, language and the world, which are conditioned by our experience as human beings. This limited experience in turn makes even the closest things around us knowable only to the extent that we can manipulate and use them, but not more. Thus Juciūtė’s works mark the boundary of the human experience of the world, which, ironically, is drawn within the limits of this very world.
Weekends is a work in which two stories from the lives of two different men meet. These people are connected by an attempt to measure natural phenomena with their bodies, not able to get around without the elements common to civilized consciousness – in this case, furniture, clothes, cars, phones. In search of the ideal sitting position, famous Swedish furniture designer Bruno Mathsson studied the imprints of his buttocks, thighs, and back on snow, while the anonymous author of the Youtube channel windysilk filmed his silk-covered torso in a mountainous area multiple times, until it became almost impossible to imagine him with a head and feet. The work outdoors is about the relationship of civilized bodies to nature and the things that observe this relationship.
Untitled (Classics), paper, 21 x 29,7 cm, 2019-2020.
Something Something, Neon tubing, 30 x 110 cm, 2020
The diptych Untitled (Classics) is part of a larger series of A4 collages in which hints of classical Western architectural motifs become a visual event commenting on the exhibition environment. As with many other works in the Classics series, black lines on a white background depict an abstract ancient column motif, which transforms and repeats itself in two collages. The interdependence of the works is like two paused shots of an animation film, which create an imaginary narrative when observed. This performative aspect reminds us of the fact that the images come to life only in the viewer’s gaze, thus making the latter an integral part of the exhibition, and the works – guidelines in their journey.
Something something is a title the author gives to all of her works before finding a more appropriate one, or deciding not to name them at all. In Palydos, this inscription became a kind of transitional object. On the one hand, it refers to the act of creating meaning itself – the attempt (not necessarily successful) to extract something more definite from incomplete and abstract elements. On the other hand, turned into a luminous neon installation reminiscent of the midday sun, it became its own opposite – an object with its own boundaries, materiality, and even a clearly legible meaning.
Untitled (Tariffs), Unglazed Earthenware, 2020, Dimensions variable
Information Super-highway (tops and bottoms), pencil on paper, A3, 2016
Untitled (study for tops), pencil on paper, A3, 2016
Untitled (study for bottoms), pencil on paper, A3, 2016
Untitled (tops and bottoms), pencil on paper, A3, 2016
From the ongoing series ‘tops and bottom.’ The drawings are studies for a painting series by the same name. The works are made of two compartments, which speak to each other and speak together like perfect participles.
Nicholas Matranga’s drawings and objects are reminiscent of the 20th century style of constructive modernism, but behind their consistent seriality, clear form and simple technique of performance seems to lie everything but a specific message or a clear creative programme. These modest and fragile works poetically comment on the narratives of art history and the tendencies of contemporary art, asking questions is it really necessary? and why not? In this way, they playfully complicate one of the basic registers of our cognition – the ability to perceive, manipulate and create meaning through representation. The works are presented in the exhibition as talking to each other, mutually filling in their missing parts and changing each other’s meanings. Meanwhile, the viewer is given the opportunity to listen to them as if from the side, like to an accidentally overheard conversation.
According to the artist himself, the unglazed ceramic chains exhibited in a solid glass showcase are:
an object who’s value is realized through negatition. The contours marked by illumination. Have you laughed from politeness? Is that a seed between your teeth? Well it’s the most delicious part or at least its what I remember.
The four drawings in the exhibition belong to the series tops and bottoms created in 2016. The series explores the tops and bottoms of paintings painted (or perhaps only imagined) by the artist, silencing what is going on between them.
Antanas Gerlikas, Laura Kaminskaitė, Antanas Stanislauskas, Andrius Šoblinskas, Andrius ir Mykolas Sinkevičiai, Noah Brehmer, Anton Zolo
Translation and proofreading:
UAB “Rėmelis”, Valdas Studio
The project is supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture
Starship magazine, echogonewrong.com, artnews.lt, Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Lithuania
Special thanks to:
Autarkia, Nick Bastis, Justė Beniušytė, Aleksandra Bondarev, Lina Blauzdavičiūtė, Vytautas Budziejus, Jokūbas Čižikas, Danutė Gambickaitė, Kipras Garla, Gailė Griciūtė, Ričardas Gerasimovičius, Antanas Gerlikas, Edvinas Grinkevičius, Adam Harrison, Eglė Juocevičiūtė, Petras Išora and Ona Lozuraitytė, Monika Kalinauskaitė, Kaunas Artists’ House, Valentinas Klimašauskas, Agnė Kuprytė, Matas Labašauskas, Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association, Ignas Meilūnas, Pilypas Misiukevičius, Beatričė Mockevičiūtė, Greta Milevičiūtė, Ariane Müller, Robertas Narkus, João Laia, Thomas Plantenga, Matthew Post, Valdas Pukevičius, Andrius and Mykolas Sinkevičiai, Greta Slivskytė, Antanas Stanislauskas, Aistė Marija Stankevičiūtė, “Starship” magazine, Rūta Stepanovaitė, Emilija Škarnulytė, Andrius Šoblinskas, Gintautas Trimakas, Rokas Vaičiulis, Kotryna Žukauskaitė
Reproduction of the picture used:
Stanislovas Bohušas-Sestšencevičius, Children of Vilnius (Famine in Vilnius) / Children on the Outskirts. Oil on canvas. 210 x 205 cm, 1917. Courtesy of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art
Vitebsko str. 23,
Old building, 1st floor
Nearest public transport stop: Gervėčių st., bus No: 31
Unfortunately, the exhibition space is not yet wheelchair accessible.