The seven short stories present different representations of human appearances and phenomena, hopefully, incorporating reflection on the reality we are passing through for some time already: a fascination with political violence, the return of war, limitations of post-colonial theories as they attend solely to Western dominance and ignorance towards environment protection from the perspective of human as an again vulnerable species.
Beginning with a historical dramatization (Shooting At The Heavens), a member the shooting association is stunned by his own shot from a 500-year-old handgun. Does the precision of military command and the diligence of the perpetrator in launching a 50-year-old nuclear-powered ballistic missile (The Dud Effect) scar our imagination upon realization that this action is no longer so impossible and represents a political reality rather than a gesture of utopian past?
Small, endangered amphibians live their life in enclosures created by researchers. The wild and the artificial are simultaneously present. A theory can certainly be experienced not as a construct of the mind but as an equivalent existence of matter in the different forms of consciousness (Observe These Wards).
A walk into animated night (My Birth) and a confrontation with nocturnal forest’s dwellers where minimalistic contours emerge from the dark nothingness.
Humans, like many animals, experience Corolla, a term which refers to flower petals as a whole, the crown of a flower which guides specific animal species by the colors and textures that please them.
Egocentric objects made in regional wood-crafting motifs gradually fill public parks with spontaneous vernacular art and temporary structures built by its visitors (Agents). A dialogue with a wood artisan suggests what lies behind intentions to manipulate ethnic imagery by creating new myths on top of the old ones.
The residents of a small village take part in a civil protection competition (We are not afraid of any enemies). These are exercises that teach you how to prepare for a nuclear attack. All instructions are followed carefully, with an understanding that this is how the apocalyptic scenario would play out. It does not matter if the routine looks ridiculous to an outside viewer. Samogitians relish the prospect of being together as their small community becomes the acting cast in a film whose grim plot does not interest them, instead they take pleasure in the opportunity to be immortalized on celluloid film.
— Deimantas Narkevičius
Shooting At The Heavens
This work is a demonstration of how to fire the Schaftböller, a traditional German small cannon. It was once believed that it was possible to alter the course of an electrical storm by firing at it from the mountaintops. The film was made in collaboration with Mr. Clemens Backhaus of the Braunschweiger Schützengesellschaft 1545.
Matthew Cowan (b.1974, Berlin) is a New Zealand artist working in the realm of traditional European customs. His works take the form of photographs, videos, installations and performances, which play with the inherent strangeness of the continued popularity of long-established folk customs in a modern world. These works can be viewed as performative, playing with the elements of folk rituals that give people a link to the past.
Gimimas (My Birth)
My Birth is a confrontation with the fear of nocturnal forests, their dwellers and the deep darkness. Minimalistic contours emerge from the dark nothingness into which the main character journeys and the soundtrack further enhances the feeling of running alone through a gloomy and somber path, when only what is close at hand is heard.
Eglė Davidavičė (b.1996) is an animation director who studied at Vilnius Academy of Arts. Her debut film ‘My Birth’ and graduation film ‘Combing’ were both nominated for the Best Student Film award by the Lithuanian Film Academy. She is currently working on a new animation project exploring themes of body and intimacy.
Agents is a moving image work which was created during the spring of 2020, contemplating on folk art history and observing the effect of strict quarantine measures on people and their creativity. Revisiting and filming the sites with public sculpture made in traditional wood crafting motifs of her region, Sosunova notices how forests and parks are gradually filled with spontaneous vernacular art and temporary structures by its visitors. Investigating the agency behind the folk-art revival and vernacular creativity, the protagonist initiates a dialogue with a wood artisan. As the conversation unfolds, it questions whether agency can be distributed around a host of artefacts.
Anastasia Sosunova (b.1993) is a multidisciplinary artist who’s work unfolds around shared imagery, political myths and collective agreements, weaving together stories about communities and identities they produce. In her moving image pieces, she uses personal narrative to investigate the sociopolitical landscape of contemporary Lithuania. Sosunova has exhibited at New Museum (US), FUTURA (CZ), Britta Rettberg (DE), 14th Baltic Triennial (LT), 2nd Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (LV) and elsewhere.
Mums nebaisūs jokie priešai (We are not afraid of any enemies)
Residents of Žemaitija village prepare to take part in a civil protection competition. A drill is held in the village. The most important thing is to know how to prepare for a nuclear attack. All instructions are carried out carefully. And it doesn’t matter that the exercise looks ridiculous to the bystander. For the Samogitians, it is also fun to be together.
Edmundas Zubavičius (b.1947) was born in the district of Prienai in the village of Gailiakiemis. He graduted from the Faculty of Physics of the University of Vilnius in 1970 and from the Cinematographic Institute of the Moscow union in 1977. From 1977, he worked as director of a Lithuanian cinema studio.
Shot on 16mm, the film Corolla consists of seven close-ups inertly focused on the flower petals animated by the movement of the eyelids.
Gintautė Skvernytė (b.1994) was born in Kaunas. She graduated from the Vilnius Academy of Arts, Sculpture Department, in 2017 and at the moment is studying in the MFA program at the University of California Irvine. In 2018-2019 she participated in the The Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK) residency in Gent, Belgium. Gintaute Skvernyte has presented her work in group exhibitions in Vilnius and Belgium, including venues such as M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp and M Museum in Leuven. In May 2022 film Corolla was screened in Oberhausen film festival, Country Focus program in Germany.
The Dud Effect
The ‘dud’ is a bomb which does not explode. During the Cold War, there were located nuclear missiles R-12, which were aimed at the West. Some archive photo materials from the time are used in the film alongside with shots from half destroyed base in Lithuania and vast catacombs beneath it. The main character, a former officer who has served in such a regiment, performs the launch of a R-12 nuclear missile. He still remembers commands by heart. The work is more about filming the nature around the base with the intention to convey psychological perception of the act and outcome of such an act.
Deimantas Narkevičius (b.1964) started using film during the early nineties. His work exercises the intricate practice of memory and portray a contemporary society confronted with the painful process of history. He has recently participated in group exhibitions including “Eurasia – A Landscape of Mutability”, M HKA, Antwerpen and “When the Present is History”, Depo, Istanbul (2021), “The Missing Planet”, Pecci Museum, Prato and “Fake News – Fake Truth”, Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa (2019)
Observe These Wards
Liinu Grönlund & Okku Nuutilainen
Small, endangered amphibians live their life in enclosures created by researchers. The wild and the artificial, the past and the future are simultaneously present. Should we fight against the prophecy of destruction, or should we just surrender to the apocalyptic story? What kind of realities and futures do we construct inside our minds and in the outside world?
Liinu Grönlund (b.1984) & Okku Nuutilainen (b.1981) are Helsinki-based artists and filmmakers working both individually and as a duo. For the past few years they have been following scientists and hobbyists who keep amphibians in captivity and specialise in saving them for generations. They are interested in artificial environments as reflections of our time and our possible future realities. Observe these wards was filmed at the Paignton zoo frog unit, England.