Songs from the Compost: Mutating Bodies, Imploding Stars
Curator: Lýdia Pribišová
Exhibition Architecture: Matej Gavula
Official Opening: 17 June 2022
Duration of Exhibition: 18 June – 6 Nov 2022
Location: Grand Hall of Jozef Kollár Gallery, Námestie Sv. Trojice 8, Banská Štiavnica
Songs from the Compost: Mutating Bodies, Imploding Stars, an exhibition of video works by the Lithuanian artist Eglė Budvytytė. Eglė works at the intersection between visual and performing arts. She approaches movement and gesture as technologies for a possible subversion of normativity, gender and social roles and of dominant narratives governing public spaces. Her practice, spanning across songs, poetry, videos and performances, explores the persuasive power of collectivism, vulnerability and permeable relationships between bodies, audiences and the environments.
Eglė’s newest film, Songs from the Compost: Mutating Bodies, Imploding Stars (2021), also showing currently at the Venice Biennale, unfolds in the landscape, among lichens, pines and sand dunes in Lithuania. It is a poetic and erotic survey into the different aspects of symbiotic life: interdependency, death, decomposing in a forest. Trees and human bodies sink into forest soil and turn into nutrients for moss, fungi and other forms of life, thus outlining the image of a continual transition between life and death. Here, disintegration and decay are ways to imagine life beyond linear time and progress, as well as the passing of life from one organism into another.
The images gradually layer, alongside intimate lyrics of a song that channels the desires of an entity shapeshifting across different genders, voices, and beyond-human embodiments. With a cast comprising mostly of local youth, the film unfolds through a specially conceived song, choreography and costumes.
Horizontality in the choreography undoes the usual verticality of the human figure, unfurling her into the landscape. The performers’ bodies are sites of activity, though they’re often horizontal, pulled toward the earth and one another, moving through the forest, along the sand dunes and water.
The song lyrics draw on the work and words of biologist Lynn Margulis, celebrating the role of bacteria in making life and the collaboration between single-cell organisms possible, as well as concepts by the science-fiction author Octavia Butler, who employed tropes of symbiosis, mutation, and hybridity to challenge hierarchies and categorisation.
The video Liquid Power Has No Shame (2017) is set on a remote island above the arctic circle. The performers form a small procession leading towards nearby rocks on the ocean. The performers’ movements are informed by the surrounding environment – the pulsations of the wind and water translate into slow circular movement of their torsos, the usual verticality of human bodies is abandoned in favour of other creature-like entangled compositions and horizontal movements, that are performed in close relation and intimacy with the ground and the rocks. The choreography is reminiscent of religious pilgrimage while at the same time explicitly sensual and autoerotic. The work attempts to propose other ways of relating to and reading the landscape – intimate, non-hierarchical and sensual.
In the video Shaking Children (2013), school kids, their bodies shaking, are the video's main performers. The work’s premise is that shaking is a technique for triggering disobedience through the body. A “shaking workshop” for schoolchildren is a symbolic proposition to transgress the grid of time and space and the mechanisms of social control which are present at school.
Eglė Budvytytė is an artist based in Vilnius and Amsterdam. Eglė’s works have been presented at the Venice Biennale (2022), Performance programe at Liste Art Fair, Basel (2015), Art Dubai (2017), 19th Biennale in Sydney (2014), De Appel Art Centre in Amsterdam (2013), the CAC (Contemporary Art Centre) in Vilnius (2016), the Stedeljik Museum in Amsterdam (2012), and the MAXXI Museum in Rome (2017). She has participated in the artist residency programmes of Le Pavillon, Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2012) and WIELS Centre for Contemporary Art (Brussels 2013). https://www.eglebudvytyte.lt/
Financially supported by public resources through the Slovak Arts Council.