- Published on Monday, 20 February 2017 16:03
Arnas Anskaitis, Jurgita Remeikytė, Irma Stanaitytė, Laura Stasiulytė, Eglė Vagnoriūtė, Laura Zala
This exhibition is about the sea and its intangible outlines, about the place we inhabit and we don‘t know, about longing, love and the feel of the sea, about meaning slipping through our fingers. Rather than a place for recreation or work, the sea in the exhibited artworks is interpreted as a metaphor of collective imagination and memory. How does life at the sea influence our imagination, speech and feelings? How is it conveyed in them? By means of creative reflections artists are drawing the horizon in the mental landscape of the sea – a hypothetical territory that connects the shores of imagination, reality, past and present.
Irma’s contemporary icons and found anonymous love letter (to the sea?) combines real and virtual spaces, collects those who go fishing for feelings, humans and fish. Laura Stasiulytė contrasts ice fishing rituals with scientific research of the bottom of the Baltic Sea, and exposes a gap between things we wish to believe in and things we are forced to acknowledge. The line Arnas is drawing takes you around the Sea, but does not bring to the starting point. Instead, it takes off and ends up in some parallel space. An endless journey backwards by Irma and Jurgita plaits the interior of a building into a long rope, tears it off the ground and sets out into the open sea. A mechanical wave by Laura Zala quenches longing and attempts to reconstruct the sea out of a sound cell. Meanwhile Egle’s preservation of the memory of residents of Klaipėda alludes to skimming the surface as well as to the mist which often lingers behind symbols.
The Baltic Sea connects as well as separates nine countries that border the sea: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. What if we combine the linguistic map with the geopolitical one? For example, if one wants to translate, say, an unfamiliar German word to Lithuanian, one has to look for a German-Lithuanian dictionary. However, Germany and Lithuania do not have a common border, they are not neighbours. Poland is located between the two countries. Then we would first need to translate a particular word from Lithuanian to Polish, and then from Polish to German. However, in the process, not every word or phrase would reach its “destination” and some extra words or phrases would inevitably emerge. This way we could observe (in our mind’s eye) how words start travelling (literally) across territories.
Bilingual dictionaries are lists of correspondence that seek to relate two languages in order to define equivalence between the meanings of individual words. Thus, they serve as social institutions, as peculiar customs offices, which are responsible for controlling the flow of legitimate words and phrases in and out of the country.
The artist is interested in places and situations which are between leisure and danger, between pleasure and tragedy, between imaginary and real worlds. She looks into sediments of different historical heritage, which meet at the bottom of the Sea: local extinct acoustic fishing method and trophy chemical weapon, which was scattered at the Baltic Sea after the Second World War.
The artist talks about fishermen and smelts which constantly diminish in number and smell like cucumbers, about yperite, which is found in fishing nets, looks very much like amber and smells like mustard. Almost every year, when the Curonian Lagoon freezes, Laura Stasiulytė gets on the ice with an 8 mm camera and a 9 m long hydrophone, used earlier to detect submarines. The 8 mm black and white film erases links to today’s time and place, and turns “here” into “somewhere” and “now” into “once”.
She has met the researchers from Marine Research Department of the Environmental Protection Agency in Klaipėda and plans to join their regular expeditions testing Baltic Sea water, to get closer to the liminal points on the map and to realise the second part of her creative project.
“Meridianas” is a vessel that became a symbol of the city of Klaipėda in the recent decades. In its broadest sense, a symbol has to bare a conventionally understood meaning of an abstract concept or idea. Majority of Klaipėda residents agree that the ship is the symbol of their city, yet many are unable to explain why?
The sailboat was built in 1948 in a Finnish shipyard in Turku. “Meridianas” is not the only one of its kind – there were more than forty similar vessels produced employing modern technologies of glued wood. She was not built as a symbol. Her primary purpose was to become part of the Finnish contribution to the Soviet Union; Soviet officers directed it to Klaipėda – one of the Soviet ports then. Until 1968 “Meridianas” was sailed by cadets from Klaipėda Maritime School during their exercises in the sea. After an accident in 1968, during which six cadets perished, the ship became defunct and in 1969 she was anchored to a bank of the river Danė in the centre of the city. During the next two years the sailboat went under reconstruction and was adapted to the new – commercial – purposes: it was turned into a restaurant. For more than three decades its location did not change. This most probably determined the transformation of the ship into a symbol. The wooden ship was constantly demanding maintenance and instigated controversial debates on the necessity to preserve it. “Meridianas” went under several stages of renovation. During the most recent one most of the wood was replaced by a completely new material – metal. Although the story of the ship‘s arrival to Klaipėda related to the occupational regime, it was overwhelmed by a public desire to see the beautiful and the new, but at the same time somewhat familiar sight in the city centre.
The work was inspired by a visit to the Ropewalk (Repslagarbanan) in Karlskrona – the longest wooden building in Sweden constructed in 1692-1693. It was constructed 300 meters long in order to manufacture ropes of such length. In the age of new technologies such an organic conformity of physical space and its function is very rare. This fact stimulated to create a corresponding metaphorical link – by filming the space in a certain way, i.e. employing specific techniques, we transformed the space itself into an object.
An internet love letter made of used keyboard keys. This text is creation with no traceable authorship, a kind of contemporary “Song of Songs”. It wonders through dating websites, blogs, sites, advising on love and life. It is appropriated, adored and adapted to individual needs again and again.
Photographs on canvases show images from websites dedicated to fishing, that share pictures of the biggest catch of the day, of the month, of the year or of the entire life. Most of the pictures featuring fishermen with their catch have very similar iconography of composition and share the same strange, almost mystic mood, which makes them resemble sacral art and its motives.