Interview with Indrė Liškauskaitė about her exhibition Swell, Swell 2 displayed at VAA Artifex textile gallery in Vilnius, Lithuania on 10 June – 27 June 2020 

Indrė Liškauskaitė is an artist who lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in painting (2015) and master’s degree in textiles (2017) from Vilnius Academy of Arts. Indrė works with drawing and painting media, sound installations and text pieces. In her work, the artist explores the representation systems for nature and biology as well as the human relationship with the environment. Her work erases the boundary between myth and science, reality and fiction, sound and image. 

The exhibition features the works that had been displayed in SIM residency in Reykjavik, Iceland, and the art pieces you have created since returning home. Are you planning to continue this line of creative enquiry or is it more of a one-off creative project without any continuation?

I had been interested in the topic of representation of nature and environment even before my residency began. However, during my time as an artist in residence, I discovered unique aspects to this topic, and I came up with an idea to raise issues that are important to me through meteorological or Google satellite images. I regard my stay in Iceland as the starting point in this project and it does not end with this exhibition as I feel there are still some thematic layers I would like to explore. 

Your previous creative projects reveal your interest in the symbiotic relationship between art and science. Did your creative encounter with weather forecasts and meteorological maps take place during your time in residency? Perhaps you had a previous interest in cartography or maybe these maps act as a source of inspiration to you? 

I have always been interested in maps as images of processed nature and environment. When you look at a map, you feel as if you are looking at a landscape of systems of modified colours and symbols from a bird’s eye view or from a satellite’s perspective. My residency experience has made me look at the maps in a new light and to delve deeper into the contexts surrounding them.

Recently, more artists have emerged in Lithuania who do a great job exploring the issue of climate change and ecology (although it is not a new topic in Lithuania and beyond). Some examples include Rugilė Brazdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė Marina, the 2019 recipients of the Golden Lion award for their opera-performance Sun and Sea (Marina) at the Venice Art Biennale, also a number of other artists, among them Neringa Černiauskaitė, Ugnius Gelguda, Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonai, Aurelija Maknytė, Rūta Spelskytė-Liberienė, etc. Many visitors who attended Swell, Swell 2 exhibition have noticed a coincidental connection between your art works and the sudden changes in weather taking place during your exhibition in June. Also, the art pieces themselves contain many references to constant change which suggests that you are also not indifferent to these topics. How important are these topics in the context of your exhibition and also to you personally?

The apocalyptic scenario related to weather and climate may be one more perspective from which people can view the works featured at the exhibition. Vivid colours in my works act as a warning and convey potential future scenarios. The issues of climate change and ecology are not the focal topics in my works but rather exist in periphery. 

Because of their large scale, your works which transcend the conventional format of painting sometimes seem to be crammed into tight spaces and can hardly fit in them. Did you produce this effect deliberately? How important was the choice of exhibition space or the space itself in preparing for this exhibition? 

While installing the exhibition, I aimed to utilize the sculptural qualities of paper and wanted to arrange it in space instead of just hanging it on the wall avoiding conventional methods of displaying paintings or drawings. What fascinates me about paper is that the same work can be given a different form each time it is displayed, it can be refolded and acquire new forms and contexts and it can flexibly adapt to the environment surrounding it. 

Speaking of your works, does form come before content or content before form?

Both. Sometimes content comes to life as soon as I start drawing. In other situations, I have to spend several years reflecting on some issue or researching some topic before I find the best form or medium for the work of art in question. I am a slow planner when it comes to interdisciplinary projects. I do a lot of research and reading. However, I give myself more freedom of expression during the actual process of creating drawings. Even physical presence or travelling can have an impact on the form of my art works. For example, during my time in residency I was forced to think about specific formats of drawings as I had to fit them in my luggage to bring them home. So, as I desired to create large-scale works, I resorted to folding and rolling pieces of paper.

Could you name some of the artists or art works that you are inspired by? Is there someone you look up to or do you prefer not to follow any role models? 

I am mostly influenced by books and theories. I read a lot about environment documentation; the relationship between humans, animals and nature and the cultural meanings of the images that surround us. My works resonate with the ideas of Timothy Morton, Steve Baker and Randy Malamud. I also enjoy watching various genres of documentaries and I am fascinated by the different ways of approaching reality in these films. I have recently discovered a film platform that provides me with new angles to see the environment that surrounds me.

What are your creative plans for the near future? 

Currently, I am preparing for the group exhibition Saturn Youth Group which will open at the beginning of August at Atletika gallery. It will feature my drawings created with oil pastels and graphite powder, among other artists’ works. I discovered this technique just before my exhibition at Artifex gallery so I want to keep experimenting with it to search for new forms.

Indrė Liškauskaitė was interviewed by Justina Gražytė

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