Fluid bodies 1/5. Humans and non-humans
Artists: Tomas Daukša, Goda Palekaitė and Adrijana Gvozdenović
Lights of Happiness
Light installation. 2021
Video, 18 min
By Goda Palekaitė and Adrijana Gvozdenović
In collaboration with Teresa Cos (video and sound editing)
Genre: horror, 2021
Can we understand animals? Under what conditions can creative or sustainable cooperation with non-human beings take place? How does anthropomorphism or the attributing of human features to nature manifest itself? Two installations encounter these issues in different ways in the first cycle of exhibitions.
Tomas Daukša’s light installation “Lights of Happiness” is, at first glance, an undemanding, cheerful and even playful project bringing together visual art and design. Through the work, the artist poses an especially relevant question: are our efforts at a sustainable life fruitful and realistic?
The light installation was created using sticks found in the forest, gnawed on by beavers. The sticks are bound together by biodegradable plant-fibre string. The artist uses a primitive tying technique often found in crafts. The hard-to-recycle LED disco lights at the top of the sticks seemingly negate the author’s efforts to create sustainable work. LED lights until quite recently were expensive, and they were an innovation that only a few could afford, but they have become common. LED lights have become almost the main source of light in everyday life.
The encounter between animal and human gaze is grounded in the impossibility to understand each other, in the recognition of yourself through the other, and when not in fear, then in dominance. In his seminal essay Why Look at Animals (1977), John Berger reminds us that an animal can be tamed, captured, killed and eaten, but cannot be understood. There is a theory that in the development of language, the first metaphor was to describe human relationship with animals, just like the first paintings were paintings of animals. Their silence, the lack of common language, guarantees their distance and their exclusion. Or, as in other cultures, it is humans who lack the capacity to speak with animals and hence there appear exceptional beings like, for example, Orpheus who could talk with animals in their own language.
This film is the artists’ encounter with dead and alive animals and plants as a mode of contemplation, where the camera functions like a mirror of the gaze that creates an “abyss of un-comprehension”. In relation to our shared trouble 一 anthropomorphic, anthropocentric, anthropophilic predicament 一 one thing we can do is to rethink what humans and non-humans, as well as the political and historical relationship between them might be, working with localities and correlations, learning through what is near.
The film was produced in the context of the artistic research project Anthropomorphic Trouble, which was initiated by Goda Palekaitė and joined by Adrijana Gvozdenović.
Acknowledging the Earth as a historical character, learning from cosmologies and ecologies, and acting as amateur storytellers, they begin their journey from their trouble, from incomprehensibility, through a landscape of associative thinking. The broader research addresses ecological challenges, deep time and geological formations, unearthing the troubled relationship between humans and the Earth. In its different iterations, the project aims to open the possibility to experience and discuss anthropomorphic troubles, as the artists share their research, stories, artifacts and artworks developed through different localities in 2019-2021. Anthropomorphic Trouble was curated by Arts Catalyst in partnership with Delfina Foundation, and was first presented as a book, this video and an installation, activated in a performance at Whitechapel Gallery, London, in November 2021.
In 1990 Tomas Daukša started attending kindergarten ‘Fairy Tale’ where he developed an interest in spontaneous processes and collaborative practice. Of many noteworthy projects implemented during that time, arguably the most extraordinary was a mass unsanctioned escape orchestrated in collaboration with another nursery school. Parallel to these spontaneous events Daukša attended music school for eight years where he learned to play the piano. After graduating from school he never touched the instrument again and claims to have successfully lost all of the skills he obtained during that period. In 2019, Daukša was awarded his doctorate from the Vilnius Academy of Arts.
Goda Palekaitė is an artist working in the intersection of contemporary art, performance, artistic research, literature, and anthropology. Her practice evolves around projects exploring politics of historical narratives, agency of dreams, and conditions of creativity. Her recent solo shows were opened at Kunsthal Gent in Ghent / Editorial in Vilnius (“The Strongest Muscle in the Human Body is the Tongue” 2021), 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 Whitechapel Gallery in London, BOZAR in Brussels, Vilnius International Theatre Festival “Sirenos”, “Swamp pavilion” in The Biennale Architettura in Venice, CAC in Vilnius, The Institute of Things to Come in Turin, among others. In 2020 she published her first book of fiction “Schismatics” (LAPAS books) and started an artistic Ph.D. position at Hasselt University in Belgium. Goda is based in Brussels.
Adrijana Gvozdenović (Montenegro/Belgium) employs artistic methods to create ambiguous distinctions between practice and theory, theory and confession, documentation and production, artistic and curatorial, oral exchange and artistic form. From 2017 to 2020, with her project “Archiving artistic anxieties, she has been an associate researcher at a.pass (advanced performance and scenography studies in Brussels) and Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. More recently, her work was presented within the exhibition “This situation has developed over a long time” (ŠKUC gallery, Ljubljana), she performed her card-reading “7 anxieties and the world” (Glasmoog Cologne), co-curated a program “Not in the mood” for the postgraduate program of a.pass Brussels and collaborated with artist Vijai Pathineelam for the video work “Water made to move” (commissioned by SCHUNCK, Heerlen).