Slow and sandy artist expeditions around the region of the Šilų Dzūkai
From July to October 2021, artists from different locations in Lithuania will visit and create in the region of the Forest Dwellers of Dzūkija – Šilų Dzūkai. They will participate in an event/project called “Lavkė. Lėta smėlėta ekspedicija” [Lavkė. Slow and sandy expedition]. At the invitation of the artistic initiative Verpėjos, they will travel along the local motor-shop route through Marcinkonys, Kabeliai, Musteika, Piesčiai, Šklėriai, Grybaulia, Ašašnykai and other villages, and the resulting artwork will be available to view in various places around these villages, as well as in the gallery of Marcinkonys Station, while in the autumn – in Vilnius – at the cultural complex SODAS 2123.
Anyone interested is invited to meet and communicate with these artists, or even participate in the creative process.
The village motor-shop, called lavkė, regularly supplies the inhabitants of remote villages with essential food products. At the same time, the arrival of the lavkė becomes an opportunity to gather, talk, discuss relevant things. The “Slow and sandy expedition” continues and interprets this rural tradition using the lavkė as a creative method. When traveling along its route around the villages of Šilų Dzūkija, the artists will try to get acquainted with the local population and their world, while later in the same way they will present the works inspired by these interactions, and possibly even artwork created together with the local people. The creators will be consulted gatherers of natural goods, farmers on biodynamic farms, botanists, naturalists, ethnographers, beekeepers, herbalists, craftsmen, and public figures.
In presenting the vision for organising such expeditions, the curator and author of the idea, artist Laura Garbštienė, states: “While thinking about the changing and unpredictable conditions of our lives, it is important to provide the opportunity for creators to adapt to them and exploit the benefits of the situation for their own creativity. At the same time, the residents of Šilų Dzūkija, who live very remotely and are usually regularly visited by the motor-shop, will now also be visited by professional artists, who will seek not only to show and share their creative work, but also to carry out artistic research, collect materials for their works, search for various links to the environment, its inhabitants, all the animals, small creatures, plants and others things that are unfamiliar to them.”
Six creators or groups of creators were invited to participate in the “Slow and sandy expedition” via an open call, all of them have expressed an interest in working in communities and making use of the offer to travel as a tool for creative work. The expedition members include Andrej Polukord, Dovilė Bagdonaitė, Pojūčių teatras (Karolina Žernytė, Saulė Norkutė, Šarūnė Pečiukonytė), Gabrielė Vetkinaitė, Agota Zdanavičiūtė, and Živilė Lukšytė. These artists will come to Šilų Dzūkija from Vilnius and will travel in the period between July and October. They will stay and create on the specially-adapted premises of the former Kabeliai village school.
The first two traveller-artists – Dovilė Bagdonaitė and Andrej Polukord – have already arrived in Šilų Dzūkija and become involved in local life. News of the expeditions and their progress can be followed on the website of the organisers, verpejos.lt, and on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/verpejos
Verpėjos is an independent art initiative founded in 2017 by artist Laura Garbštienė in Marcinkonys eldership (Varėna district). Verpėjos aims to explore and rethink the themes of the traditional rural lifestyle and nature conservation, to enable discourse on the processes and changes present both locally and globally. Since 2019, Verpėjos has been curating the gallery of Marcinkonys Station, and in 2020 an international art residency programme was launched.
The expeditions are organised by VšĮ Verpėjos in cooperation with the following partners – the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association, Marcinkonys Multifunctional Centre, Varėna Cultural Centre.
The project is funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture.