Lithuanian opera performance Sun & Sea visits Helsinki in August as part of Kiasma’s ARS22 exhibition

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma’s major exhibition ARS22 – Living Encounters extends the museum’s regular live art program beyond Kiasma Theatre into the galleries, presenting an intense collection of fifteen performances. ARS22 culminates in August 2022 with the Lithuanian opera performance Sun & Sea. Commenting on the current climate crisis, the immersive work won the Golden Lion for the best national pavilion at the Venice Biennale in summer 2019.

Sun & Sea is a visually compelling total work of art that vents climate anxiety while offering a modernized reinterpretation of opera. The multidisciplinary team of creators is led by Lithuanian filmmaker and director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, writer Vaiva Grainytė, and artist and composer Lina Lapelytė, who are supported by 13 soloists and other beach performers.

“Climate change is a complex subject to narrativize because the cold, hard facts of science are difficult to translate into touching human stories. While raising highly topical questions, Sun & Sea expresses humanity’s confused state as we teeter between panic and indifference, paradoxically both victims and villains of the climate crisis “, writes one of the ARS22 curators, Chief Curator of Performing Arts Jonna Strandberg in the exhibition catalogue.

The performance opens with a seemingly carefree vignette of vacationers having fun – or desperately trying to have fun – on an artificial sandy beach. The miscellaneous assembly of characters sing their thoughts aloud, sharing stories about their lives and their anxiety about the state of the world. The most poignant moment is when the chorus sings in unison about their concern for the sea: “This year the sea is as green as a forest: eutrophication!”

The mood on the staged beach plummets from cheerful to grim. Outwardly the events unfolding on the beach seem undramatic by operatic standards, but the intensity is heightened by the powerful performance delivered by the singers, as well as the content of the lyrics: the songs are about real threats to life on earth.

Living Encounters

ARS22 – Living Encounters explores the big questions and stories of our time, and creates a space dedicated to shared experiences and community. The exhibition features works by 55 artists or groups from 26 different countries.

Artists Marina Abramović & Ulay; Marja Ahti, Jenni Kalliokuju & Essi Kausalainen; Farah Al Qasimi; Evgeny Antufiev; Alexandra Bachzetsis; Francis Bacon; Alex Baczynski-Jenkins; Lewis Baltz; Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė & Lina Lapelytė; Sol Calero; Pia Camil; Jimmie Durham; Annika Eriksson; Anna Estarriola; Cyprien Gaillard; Sheela Gowda; D Harding; Kholod Hawash; Tehching Hsieh; Donna Huanca; Anna Maria Häkkinen, Erno Aaltonen & Saara Töyrylä; Ima Idouzee; Arthur Jafa; Kimmo Kaivanto; Samson Kambalu; Alex Katz; Mira Kautto, Roy Boswell & Ella-Noora Koikkalainen; Grada Kilomba; Eva Kot’átková; Vojtěch Kovařík; Essi Kuokkanen; Danutė Kvietkevičiūtė; Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl; Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen; Dafna Maimon; Luís Lázaro Matos; Joar Nango; Mikko Niemistö; Tuan Andrew Nguyen; Frida Orupabo; Amanda Piña; Howardena Pindell; Alexandra Pirici; Laure Prouvost; Anni Puolakka; Michael Rakowitz, Michele Rizzo; Pia Maria Roll, Hanan Benammar, Sara Baban & Marius von der Fehr; SERAFINE1369; Slavs and Tatars; Joel Slotte; Jenna Sutela; Andra Ursuţa; David Wojnarowicz; Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. *performance

The exhibition is curated by Leevi Haapala and João Laia together with Kiasma’s curator team Saara Hacklin, Kati Kivinen, Patrik Nyberg, Piia Oksanen, Satu Oksanen, Jonna Strandberg and Jari-Pekka Vanhala.

ARS22 – Living encounters 8.4.–16.10.2022


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