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October 5, 2020

The Spectral Forest

Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts

Installation views of The Spectral Forest. Photos: Ansis Starks. Illustration: Gailė Pranckūnaitė.

Artists: Eglė Budvytytė in collaboration with Marija Olšauskaitė and Julija Steponaitytė, Susanna Jablonski, Paul Maheke, Santiago Mostyn, Jin Mustafa, Ieva Rojutė, Mark Ther, Elin Már Øyen Vister

Curated by Rado Ištok

Departing from the history of deforestation and afforestation, and displacement and resettlement, on the Curonian Spit, as well as the significance of the sacred groves in the Baltic region, The Spectral Forest is conceived as a promenade through an enchanted forest. Referring not only to spectres, ghosts, and spirits traditionally residing in the forest, but also to the notion of the spectrum as a condition that is not limited to a specific set of values, the exhibition poses continuity, fluidity, and permeability against the reductive binaries and divisive language increasingly dominating the political climate.

While some works presented in The Spectral Forest are rooted in the locality of Nida, they are not limited to it. Eglė Budvytytė’s inter-species film Songs from the Compost: Mutating Bodies, Imploding Stars, in collaboration with Marija Olšauskaitė and Julija Steponaityte and co-produced by the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA), or Mark Ther’s Golo, were shot in the surroundings of Nida. While Golo is an exploration of the LGBTIQ+ potentialities in the region through the figure of Golo Mann, the son of locally and internationally renowned writer Thomas Mann, works by Elin Már Øyen Vister and Santiago Mostyn attempt to reconnect the entangled histories of the Baltic coast with the shores of Scandinavia and the Carribean islands respectively. We took a sip from the devil’s cup, a new series of bleached drawings by Paul Maheke, is a continuation of his interest in cosmology and communication between different worlds and times, a theme also explored in the work of Jin Mustafa, including in her new film Ahead of Sight. In comparison, Susanna Jablonski’s sculptures and Ieva Rojūtė’s textual and spatial installations offer glimpses into intimate worlds through their affective charge, enveloping us like a forest growing from the deep roots of memories and interpersonal relations.

The exhibition, alongside an accompanying catalogue (to be published in January 2021), is the final chapter of the four formats—alongside a residency, a workshop, and two publications—guest-curated by Rado Ištok at NAC within the 4Cs: From Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture, a European Cooperation Project as part of Creative Europe 2014-2020.

Within this programme, five of the participating artists took part in a two-month residency at NAC in Autumn 2019 in order to produce newly commissioned works for the exhibition. In parallel, a three-day workshop Dwelling on the Threshold, exploring spaces of passage, flux, and fluidity, took place at NAC in October 2019, accompanied by an eponymous online handbook published in February 2020 with contributions by Joanna Warsza and Jan Sowa, Shahram Khosravi, Natalia Tikhonova, Anna Karpenko, Candice Hopkins, Eglė Budvytytė, Elin Már Øyen Vister and others.

Further information and documentation: The Spectral Forest

The exhibition is co-funded by the Creative Europe 2014-2020 Programme of the EU and the Lithuanian Council for Culture.

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