Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė
Marina Militare, Fondamenta Case Nuove 2738c, Calle de la Celestia, Castello
Sun & Sea (Marina)
The Lithuanian pavilion will be transformed into an artificial beach where more than 20 participants and singers will bring a contemporary opera performance. This will certainly be one of the most captivating pavilions of the 2019 Art Biennale. From the mezzanine gallery, you will observe the vacationers in colourful bathing suits lying on their towels on the beach. Throughout the performance, characters begin telling and singing (whilst lying down) their stories and preoccupations. The topics range from trivial concerns about sunburn and plans for future vacations to some of the most pressing issues of our times such as fears of environmental catastrophe.
The cast of vacationers varies for every performance so each session will be a unique experience. You could therefore watch it several times and still be surprised. The best part is that you can even take part in it. The team is looking for people of every age, gender and race to become vacationers under their artificial sun and to experience the artwork from the inside. The only requirement is that you lounge on the beach for at least 3 consecutive hours. This is your chance to participate (and not just visit) to the Art Biennale in Venice!
The opera performance takes place every Wednesday and Saturday (until October 31), non-stop from 10 am until 6 pm. On the other days, you can listen to the opera and watch the (empty) beach. There will also be surprise performances from time to time. I really look forward to discover this intriguing set-up so I will plan my trip to Venice around it so I can visit it on a Saturday. The pavilion is located outside Giardini or Arsenale, so you can visit it without a Biennale ticket.
The 3 female artists pay special attention to the relationship between documentary and fiction, reality and poetry as well as the overlap between theatre, music and visual arts. Their first contemporary opera, Have a Good Day!, won six international awards in Europe, and it has been performed in more than twenty festivals. It is still touring worldwide, so if you like the one in Venice (or you won’t be able to see it), you might want to check if it’s coming to a location near you.
The Lithuanian Pavilion received the Golden Lion of the Biennale Arte 2019 so it’s certainly worth a visit. The motivation of the jury mentioned “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.”
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 confined boundaries 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.
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.
The Lithuanian pavilion is located in a spacious warehouse in the unique setting of the Marina Militare, adjacent to the Arsenale. It has never been used during the Art Biennale, so this is a unique opportunity to see it. You can access it via the Campo de la Celestia.
Review by The Venice Insider
If you only have time to visit one pavilion during the 2019 Art Biennale, then this opera is the one you need to see. The live performance on the artificial beach inside the Marina Militare is really impressive and one which you will never forget. It is totally different from all the other art works, installations and performances I ever saw in Venice. The Golden Lion which Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė and the team of Lithuania received, is very well-deserved.
The setting itself is already unique, as it brings you to a part of Arsenale Nord which is usually not accessible to the public. Once inside, you take the stairs to the first floor from where you look down on the beach. It looks like a regular day on the beach with grownups reading and talking, children running around, playing with a ball or eating ice-cream, dogs barking … Most of these people are volunteers, so there’s no script that they follow. They just behave as they always do on a beach.
While you watch the scene, you listen to the professional and highly skilled singers who sing while they are laying on their back, on their side or sitting in a chair. When you hear a new voice, it’s therefore part of the fun to find out who is singing. After a while, you start to recognize the voices so it’s easier. Their performance in this set-up is remarkable. To give you an example, the dog of one of the singers started to pull his cord and to bark when children ran next to him while she was singing. She didn’t stop for a second but used her feet to calm the dog.
Following the stories about climate change is more difficult as your attention is easily distracted by what’s going on. However, it didn’t really disturb me that I didn’t understand all the words or texts. The performance lasts 70 minutes but it is continuously repeated in a loop so you can take up at any moment of the day. There is so much going on that you will easily stay half an hour. I guess the singers must be exhausted by the end of the day.
The only disadvantage is that the performance is only taking place on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 10 until 18. This often results in long lines to enter. However, once inside, the organization is immaculate so everyone has a place next to the rail and can easily watch the scene. If they would allow more people, it would be much harder to enjoy it.
I highly recommend you to attend a Sun & Sea (Marina) performance in the pavilion of Lithuania. It is therefore the number one in my ’12 must-sees at the 2019 Art Biennale in Venice’.
If you want to know more about the Art Biennale 2019 and the other national participations, you can read my post ‘What to expect from the Art Biennale 2019’, or have a look at this overview page which links to all the articles related to the Biennale. If you want to be informed about new previews of national pavilions being added to the site, you can subscribe to The Venice Insider biweekly newsletter.
(Picture in banner: Sun & Sea Marina © Neon Realism)