A beach tan at the end of the world: Sun and Sea (Marina)

Sun&Sea (Marina), opera-performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, Lina Lapelytė at Biennale Arte 2019, Venice; Videography: Laurynas Skeisgiela © Courtesy: The Artists

Director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, playwright Vaiva Grainytė, and composer Lina Lapelytė for the Lithuanian Pavilion won the Golden Lion for the best pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2019. In this performance piece, we look down on beach-goers who sing and hum while sunning themselves, building sandcastles and snacking on an artificial beach. The music is completed by the sounds of crinkling plastic, distant volcanoes and ‘the creaking of an exhausted earth.’ This acoustic ecology underscores the seduction of the performance, and the memories it triggers, with a sense of lament and threat to which we are not only onlookers but participants and contributors.

The stage which we are gazing down at is a complicated topology, a little cusp in which past memories of places and moments are invoked, while the scene plays out a drama that seems more careless than carefree. The ambient audio combined with the the trivial leisure activity of suntanning on a beach, evokes the lack of serious action by governments, corporations… inaction by all of us provokes fears for the future.

-Rob Shields (University of Alberta)