Official Vilnius 700 event: the 1st Vilnius Performance Art Biennial starts with a new work by Emilia Škarnulytė to be performed at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre

Celebrating the exact day of Vilnius’s 700th anniversary, the 1st Vilnius Performance Art Biennial presents the opening event of the festival—a new work by artist Emilia Škarnulytė, Aphotia, which will take place on 23 January at 7 pm at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

This site-specific, one-time-only performance will spread across the entire building of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre (LNOBT)—designed by another female artist, Elena Nijolė Bučiūtė. Establishing an active relationship with the theatre premises, the work will immerse the audience in an extraordinary depth of meanings and sensations.

“The title of the piece is based on the term ‘aphotic zone’, also known as ‘dark ocean’—the depths of the ocean that are inaccessible to sunlight. In the summer of 2022, Škarnulytė’s video work with the same title was presented at an exhibition in Venice. The new title created for the one-time performance at LNOBT personifies the term, combining aspects of nature, deity, man and animal, and unfolding a special medium for mixed forms of being to coexist,” says the Biennial’s Artistic Director Neringa Bumblienė.

The performance consists of a specially created sound and lighting choreography, large-format video projections and live performances. The music is written by Suzanne Kite, an award-winning Lakota composer who grew up in Southern California, together with Emilija Škarnulytė.

“The theme that accompanies the show—invisible worlds (of water and the depths of (sub)consciousness)—continues the artist’s consistent field of interest, and at the same time interacts closely with the Biennial’s main theme, the city, seen from different perspectives of a speculative future, and in the face of climate change and the rising water levels,” continues Bumblienė.

In 2019, Škarnulytė was awarded the Future Generation Art Prize and represented Lithuania at the 22nd Triennale di Milano. Her work has been presented at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMa in New York, and other important institutions.

Tickets for the event will go on sale this week. For more information, please visit the websites of the Vilnius Performance Art Biennial and LNOBT.

Starting off next year, the Vilnius Performance Art Biennial is an ongoing international art event and one of the most important parts of the programme of Vilnius’s 700th anniversary. Its programme consists of two parts: a programme of invited artists curated by the Biennial’s Artistic Director Bumblienė, and a collection of works selected by an international jury through an open call. The main events of the Biennial will take place from 23 July to 6 August 2023.

The Vilnius Performance Art Biennial is organised by the Gallery Meno Niša, which celebrates its own anniversary this year, having been operating in the heart of the capital for two decades. The gallery and its proposal have been selected as one of the seven winners of the Go Vilnius competition for ideas to celebrate the anniversary of Vilnius initiated by the Vilnius City Municipality. The director of the gallery Meno Niša and the Biennial is Diana Stominė.

The main focus of this Biennial is the city of Vilnius, but also a city per se, as a human-made and human-dominated environment that we share with other life forms, where different histories, myths, activities, interests, desires and visions collide, coexist and overlap. The city as an organism that is born, thrives, but also dies or is killed. The city as an artificial but living structure with certain rules, certain trajectories of circulation that some life forms follow and others choose to disregard, creating new ones. The city as a dense network knitted with both visible and invisible threads and charged with various tensions. The city as a platform and a stage.

The opening event of the 1st Vilnius Performance Art Biennial, Aphotia by Emilia Škarnulytė, will take place on 23 January 2023 at 7 pm at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, Vilnius.

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