Lithuanian Pavilion, Golden Lion at the Venice Art Biennale 2019

The performance Sun & Sea by the collective Neon Realism is a critique of leisure that won the Golden Lion for its original use of the exhibition space, transformed into a beach crowded with people.

A few hundred metres from the entrance to the Arsenale, in the Marina Militare spaces, the Lithuanian Pavilion presented Sun & Sea (Marina). An extended performance, adapted in English for the 2019 Art Biennale, a mise-en-scène that unfolds over time, cyclically, for 70 minutes. The original version of Sun & Sea (Marina) was first held in 2017, in Lithuanian, by the collective Neon Realism. The group formed a few years earlier, as a platform for the creation of documentaries based on authors as well as fiction films and live art projects.

Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2019
Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2019. Photo Andrej Vasilenko

Neon Realism (Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė [filmmaker], Vaiva Grainytė [poetess and writer] and Lina Lapelytė [composer and performer]), with the curatorship of Lucia Pietroiusti, led the Lithuanian Pavilion to victory at the Biennale. The jury justified awarding them thusly: “For the Pavilion’s experimental approach and its unexpected way in facing national representation. The jury was impressed by the original use of the display space, which stages a Brecht-inspired work, and by the active efforts of the Pavilion as regards Venice and its inhabitants. Sun & Sea (Marina) is a critique of leisure and of contemporaneity, sung by the voices of a group of performers and volunteers who interpret everyday people.”

Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2019. Photo Andrej Vasilenko
Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2019. Photo Andrej Vasilenko

Sun & Sea (Marina) transformed a large and dark space, with a minstrel’s gallery, into a stretch of sun-drenched beach, crowded with tourists who, lying on the sand in their bathing suits with towels, umbrellas and powerful lights, sing their hearts out. The subjects of this chorus, a motely tableau vivant of twenty artists and twenty extras (paid 2.65 euro an hour), present, starting on 11 May, the performance every Saturday, for 8 hours per day.

Watching from above a large chorus of people lying on the sand, men and women scattered on colourful beach towels, with a glistening sun and songs of stories, perfectly corresponds to the overall expectations of the 58. International Art Biennale in Venice. An edition that focuses on repeated climate obsessions and on externalising the human condition, a state of existence that stares at the light to overcome the fear of shadows.

Neon Realism (Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, Lina Lapelytė)
Curated by:
Lucia Pietroiusti
58. International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia
Marina Militare, Venice
Opening dates:
11 May – 24 November 2019
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