Curated by Arts Catalyst
In partnership with Delfina Foundation and Whitechapel Gallery
Adopting the lens of "Earth as a historical figure" as a mode of storytelling and as a narrative device, the project takes the coastal region of Dorset (UK) as a speculative context through which to simultaneously address ecological challenges, deep time and geological formations to unearth the troubled relationship between humans and the Earth.
From Mesopotamian personification of Ki to Incan Pachamama, to Greek Gaia - the narratives related to Earth - have often endowed the planet with human, often female features, behaviours and occurrences, including family tree, romantic relationships, personality, and other humanistic description.
Since the 18th century onwards, ‘historians of the earth’, scientists, philosophers, writers, and political figures have warned about the rapidly changing conditions of the environment. Yet these warnings have been left unheeded and the mechanisms of growing capitalism, global trade, displacement of humans, animals and plants, and military powers have continued to increase the exploitation of the earth.
Articulated through a three-part residency in Lyme Regis (Dorset), London and Sheffield, the project looks at the work of early, often invisible ‘historians of the earth’ to decipher how contemporary, extractive modes of anthropomorphisation of the Earth, necessarily dictate the shape the Earth takes.
These include Mary Anning (1799-1847), a self-taught pioneer of palaeontology who discovered the first intact skeletons of dinosaurs at the age of 12. Also Anna Atkins (1799-1871), a botanist who worked with the cyanotype technique to collect and archive the British algae, developing what is today known as the first book of photography; and Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), a feminist avant-garde science-fiction writer and post-humanist philosopher from the Baroque era – guide the artists through the research.
Over the course of the residency, Goda Palekaitė and Adrijana Gvozdenović are travelling to Dorset to explore the Jurassic Coast. The cliffs in the region date from the late Triassic to early Jurassic periods, and its topography stores evidence of millions of years of evolution – almost a continuous sequence of rock formations spanning the entire Mesozoic Era, in which the top of the food chain was dominated by what is now called Dinosauria. Here, through the practices of writing, filming, interviewing, and archiving the artists invite us to exercise our gaze and recognise the landscape as a form of crystallised time.
The project culminated in a two-day performance over the 20 - 21st November at Whitechapel Gallery, London. Over six performances Goda took participants on a journey, exoploring geological time, living and dead fossils, the weather on the Adriatic sea, animal horor and the effects of stones on human eyes. Rosemary tea was served and enjoyed, which has the effect of enhancing focus and slowing down aging, bringing everyone present closer to the time of a stone.
The project is produced collaboratively by Arts Catalyst and Schizma (LT), and supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture, Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and Hasselt University.
(Lithuania) is an artist working in the intersection of contemporary art, performance, artistic research, literature, and anthropology. Her practice evolves around projects exploring the politics of historical narratives, the agency of dreams and imagination, and social conditions of creativity. Her recent solo shows were opened at the Centre Tour à Plomb in Brussels (“Architecture of Heaven” 2020), Konstepidemin in Gothenburg (“Liminal Minds” 2019) and RawArt Gallery in Tel Aviv (“Legal Implications of a Dream” 2018). In the last years, her performances and installations have been presented at the Vilnius international theatre festival “Sirenos”, “Swamp pavilion” in The Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice, Atletika gallery and Contemporary Art Center in Vilnius, The Institute of Things to Come in Turin, among others. In 2019 Palekaitė received The Golden Stage Cross and the Young Artist’s Prize from the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. Goda is based in Brussels. In 2020 the artist published her first book of fiction “Schismatics” (LAPAS books) and started an artistic Ph.D. position at Hasselt University. palekaite.space