Jelena Škulis. Exhibition “Pause. By the River of War”
Vilnius city gallery Meno niša invites everyone to the exhibition Pause. By the River of War by artist Jelena Škulis. This exhibition is part of the artist’s autoethnographic research, which takes place by observing ourselves and those around us in our shared emotional and geopolitical spaces.
The main installation of the exhibition is a 10-meter-long work made on a computerized threading loom but woven by hand. Each thread of the installation is threaded by hand. Jelena Škulis started weaving this work in October 2022 and finished it just a week before the opening of the exhibition.
Pause. By the River of War is the eighth solo exhibition of J. Škulis and the first one at the Vilnius gallery Meno niša. According to the curator of the exhibition, Sonata Baliuckaitė, the artist is a prominent and long-established artist on the Lithuanian art scene, who this year has joined the ranks of the artists of the gallery Meno niša, representing various art disciplines.
“Jelena is an interdisciplinary artist who represents the field of textile art in a relevant way. I have come across her work many times, both at the ArtVilnius art fair and while curating other group exhibitions. The concept of textiles, both in contemporary art and old art, is very broad. In Jelena’s work, I associate textiles with tactility, with a slow and performative creative process: whether it is weaving, embroidery, or “knitting” from words. Words and texts are important in her work, but they are encoded using the possibilities of textile and graphic art. The artist reacts sensitively to topical, painful, as well as universal or common human topics, and involves the viewer in the process, taking an interest in their emotions and experiences,” said Sonata Baliuckaitė, curator of the exhibition.
The content of the main work in the exhibition Pause. By the River of War is a sequence of repeated words with pauses. J. Škulis heard these words in an interview with a girl from Ukraine. She described her current life with the words “war” and “tears”, and that she lives “in waiting.” These words, originally spoken in Ukrainian, were arranged by the artist in various sequences on a slow physical timeline, paused or almost legible.
“I feel the war dissolving into everyday life. Holidays, studies, loved ones. I suspect that I want to deny the fatigue of it, along with the knowledge that it continues and unfortunately will continue. But with a new reminder, it hits me with a strong wave. How do I survive, create, work, and love in that uncontrollable but real fog of war? With hope and constant anticipation of its end. This is my question to each of the viewers and my attempt to answer it myself in the flowing river of time and work,” the artist said about the forthcoming exhibition and its theme.
“Many people have asked why I use Ukrainian. It is often confused with Russian. Some people, observing the process, ask: “Why do you weave in Russian?” For me, it’s a chance to physically feel and understand something other than my own language and thinking. And I find myself always thinking that the war must end, that there has to be a pause, I keep asking how we live our current everyday life,” said J. Škulis.
Jelena Škulis is an artist and researcher whose work is based on the material and the relationship with the community. A graduate in social sciences from Vilnius University and visual arts from Vilnius Academy of Arts, she uses a variety of methods in her work: slow weaving, handwork, everyday language, performative action, surveys, and involving the community in the creative process.
Jelena’s works and community projects have been presented in Italy, Portugal, France, Latvia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and other countries. Two of her projects involving local communities, Add.Dicted and BoringArt, received a grant from the Lithuanian Council for Culture. Škulis is also a Ph.D. student at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. She uses an autoethnographic approach to explore the connections and disconnections between material creation and community.
The gallery is sponsored by Vilnius City Municipality.
The exhibition is part of the Vilnius 700 program.