The Spectral Forest
28 August – 8 November 2020
Nida Art Colony, Lituania

More documentation and text here.

Participating artists: Eglė Budvytytė in collaboration with Marija Olšauskaitė and Julija Steponaitytė, Susanna Jablonski, Paul Maheke, Santiago Mostyn, Jin Mustafa, Ieva Rojutė, Mark Ther, Elin Már Øyen Vister
Curator: Rado Ištok

Photo: Ansis Starks

The exhibition The Spectral Forest presents newly commissioned and existing works by eight international contemporary artists. Departing from the history of deforestation and afforestation, and displacement and resettlement, on the Curonian Spit, as well as the significance of the sacred groves in the Baltic region, the exhibition is conceived as a promenade through an enchanted forest. The Spectral Forest refers both to spectres, ghosts, and spirits traditionally residing in the forest, and to a spectrum. While both words have the same Latin root (spectrum: appearance, apparition), a spectrum represents a band of colours, as seen in a rainbow, or more generally a condition that is not limited to a specific set of values as quantifiable numbers but can vary across a continuum. A spectrum thus implies a broad range grouped together, similarly to a forest encompassing various species, and, in the case of the Curonian Spit, simultaneously stabilising the underlying sand dunes.

Susanna Jablonski
Adrianna’s Akato and Henry’s Couch, 2019

The sculptural works by Susanna Jablonski have a personal touch, both in terms of her frequent use of materials such as ceramics and found objects, and the inspiration she finds in inter-personal relationships. Standing on the threshold of the exhibition, Adrianna’s Akato is a work that resembles a bedside table, imagined as a monument to the experience of the artist’s friend, a Venezuelan filmmaker currently exiled in Barcelona. In the spiritual beliefs of the Ye’kuana people of Venezuela, akatos are one’s six spirit-counterparts, invisible and eternal. Some travel away from the body at night, but if an akato cannot find its way back to its human entity, for example due to migration, there can be serious consequences, including deteriorating physical and mental health, and possible death. A number of small objects – including a Venezuelan aloe vera plant, a digital alarm clock set to Caracas time, a cast glass circle, and natural objects including a stone found by the artist during her visit to Nida – are placed on a slab of pink marble supported by paper clay feet. The video looping on the cellphone shows a perfect cup of cappuccino being poured and then deliberately ruined. In comparison, Henry’s Couch takes reference from the psychoanalyst’s couch, a constant presence in the artist’s childhood home. The wasp nest in a ceramic form, cradled by a pair of pillows, can be seen as an open head, a container for buzzing thoughts, emotions, and memories which unfold over a session on the psychoanalyst’s couch. While the bedside table is associated with transitional moments of falling asleep and waking up, the psychoanalyst’s couch stands for the interface between the conscious and the subconscious.