Sun & Sea
Serpentine, LIFT and We Are Lewisham present the UK premiere of the opera-performance, Sun & Sea.
Imagine a beach – you within it, or better: watching from above – the burning sun, sunscreen and bright bathing suits and sweaty palms and legs. Tired limbs sprawled lazily across a mosaic of towels. Imagine the occasional squeal of children, laughter, the sound of an ice cream van in the distance. The musical rhythm of waves on the surf, a soothing sound (on this particular beach, not elsewhere). The crinkling of plastic bags whirling in the air, their silent floating, jellyfish-like, below the waterline. The rumble of a volcano, or of an airplane, or a speedboat. Then a chorus of songs: everyday songs, songs of worry and of boredom, songs of almost nothing. And below them: the slow creaking of an exhausted Earth, a gasp. – Lucia Pietroiusti
Staged on an indoor beach at the Albany from 23 June – 10 July 2022 as part of LIFT 2022, Serpentine’s Back to Earth project and Lewisham’s year as the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2022, this durational work will unfold on a loop over several hours. Audiences will watch from the balcony as dozens of performers bring the scene to life. At first appearing to present a vision of a mundane afternoon at the beach, at the heart of Sun & Sea lies an urgent exploration of our relationship with the planet, the threat climate change presents and the dangers we face if it is ignored. Presented as Lithuania’s national entry for the 2019 Venice Biennale, Sun & Sea’s all-female creative team – composer Lina Lapelytė, librettist Vaiva Grainytė and director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė – received the festival’s top award, the Golden Lion. Sun & Sea has since travelled the world, curated by Lucia Pietroiusti, founder of General Ecology at Serpentine, earning acclaim from audiences of theatre, visual art, music and opera.
- Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė
Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė (b.1983, based in Vilnius) works as a filmmaker, theatre director and visual artist. In her creative practice, Barzdžiukaitė explores the gap between objective and imagined realities, while challenging an anthropocentric way of thinking in a playful way. Her recent full-length documentary film-essay Acid Forest was awarded at the Locarno International Film Festival among others, was shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Lincoln Center in NYC, American Film Institute festival in LA and many other events and venues for cinema and contemporary art. Sun & Sea is her latest collaboration in the medium of performance.
- Vaiva Grainytė
Vaiva Grainytė‘s (b. 1984, based in Lithuania and Canada) text-based practice shifts between genres, interdisciplinary theatre works and publications. As a writer, playwright, and poet she takes action as an observant anthropologist: challenged by Grainyte’s poetic interpretation, mundane social issues take on a paradoxical and defamiliarised nature. Her book of essays Beijing Diaries (2012) and the poetry collection Gorilla’s Archives (2019) were nominated for the Book of the Year awards, and included in the top twelve listings of the most creative books in Lithuania. Her oeuvre has been translated into over 10 languages. Her upcoming, bilingual, cross-genre novel, Roses and Potatoes (2022), deconstructs the contemporary enforcement of happiness.
- Lina Lapelytė
Lina Lapelytė’s (b.1984, works in Vilnius and London) performance-based practice is rooted in music and flirts with pop culture, gender stereotypes and nostalgia. Her works engage trained and untrained performers often in an act of singing through a wide range of genres such as mainstream music and opera. The singing takes the form of a collective and affective event that questions vulnerability and silencing. Her recent and upcoming shows include Cartier Foundation, Paris, Tel Aviv Museum of Art; RIBOCA2 – Riga biennale; Tai Kwun, Hong Kong; Glasgow International; Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels; Kaunas Biennale, Lithuania; Pompeii Commitment and Castello di Rivoli, Italy.
In their collaborative practice, the artists pay special attention to the relationship between documentary and fiction, reality and poetry as well as the overlap of theatre, music and the visual arts. Their opera-performance Sun & Sea is the second collaboration for the three artists. The work was most recently presented as Sun & Sea (Marina), representing Lithuania at the 58th Contemporary Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, where it was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Their previous work, the contemporary opera Have a Good Day! for 10 cashiers, supermarket sounds and piano, premiered in 2013 and is touring worldwide.
- Lucia Pietroiusti
Lucia Pietroiusti is a curator working at the intersection of art, ecology and systems, usually outside of the gallery format. Pietroiusti is the founder of the General Ecology project at Serpentine, London, where she is currently Strategic Advisor for Ecology. She is the co-founder (with Ashish Ghadiali) of the climate-justice focused non-profit, Radical Ecology. Current projects include the research and festival series, The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish (with Filipa Ramos, since 2018); Sun & Sea by Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte (2019 Venice Biennale and 2020-2024 international tour); Being Mothers (E-Werk Luckenwalde, 2021-2022) and Persons, the 8th Biennale Gherdeïna (May-September 2022, with Filipa Ramos). Pietroiusti was a curator of Bodies of Water, the 13th Shanghai Biennale (2020-2021, with Andrés Jaque, Marina Otero Verzier; Filipa Ramos and You Mi). Publications include More-than-Human (with Andrés Jaque and Marina Otero Verzier, 2020); Microhabitable (with Fernando García-Dory, 2020) and PLANTSEX (2019).
- About LIFT
LIFT, London’s biennial international festival of theatre, has been bringing joyful, daring and unforgettable theatre from around the world to London for 40 years, using the whole of the city as its stage.
Every two years, LIFT presents a festival full of bold and relevant culture, international perspectives, and thought-provoking performances. Whether it’s a much-loved venue, iconic landmark or unsung corner of London, LIFT gathers Londoners around incredible art.
LIFT’s mission is to create powerful, invigorating experiences that challenge artistic, political and social conventions; to champion artist advancement at home and abroad; to lead sustainable internationalism; and to celebrate and connect London to the world. We engage and create communities around ideas and projects, connect leading artists to locals, connect international artists and local artists to London, and together make incredible art happen.
A charity limited by guarantee and based in Toynbee Studios in East London, LIFT has a diversified income mix and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation with a biennial turnover in the region of £2 million.
To find out about the different ways you can help LIFT celebrate their 40th anniversary year, visit www.liftfestival.com/support
- About The ALBANY
Based in the heart of Deptford, the Albany is a performing arts centre that exists to inspire, develop and support creativity in South East London. With year-round activities and events including award-winning programmes for young creatives and adults over 60, music, theatre, spoken word and family performance, the Albany is led by the talent and imagination of its local community.
With four performance spaces and a range of rehearsal space, meeting rooms and offices for community and creative businesses, the Albany is underpinned by a commitment to collaboration and artistic excellence. In a normal year 80,000 people attend performances or take part in projects at the Albany, and a further 100,000 attend events.
The Albany has 26 resident organisations based in the building, and manages and programmes Deptford Lounge and Canada Water Theatre on behalf of Lewisham and Southwark Councils. It is co-lead of the national Future Arts Centres network and lead partner of the Family Arts Campaign. In September 2020, the Albany was appointed Lead Delivery Partner for the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2022 in Lewisham. They are taking lead responsibility for key strands of the programme and working closely with the team at Lewisham Council on the overall direction of the year.
- About The Mayor’s London Borough of Culture award
London Borough of Culture is a Mayor of London initiative, launched in June 2017. The award puts culture at the heart of local communities, where it belongs. It shines a light on the character and diversity of London’s boroughs and brings culture to everyone, so that all Londoners have the chance to be part of something extraordinary.
- About Lewisham Council
Lewisham is a vibrant and culturally diverse borough. This reflected in all aspects of daily life, from the response to the pandemic where the community rallied to support our most vulnerable residents, to the 170 languages spoken in our homes, schools and businesses. We have a rich history of welcoming people from all over the world and are proud to be recognised as the UK’s first Borough of Sanctuary, for our work in championing the rights of refugees and migrants.
We are committed to tackling inequalities so that everybody has the opportunity to succeed. The pandemic has shone a light on the disparities experienced by those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in all areas of their lives. In November, Lewisham became the first local authority to commission a headcount study of high streets to better support our BAME independent retailers through Covid 19 recovery and to champion the diversity of town centres.
As we plan ahead, we are working towards a fairer, greener, healthier and more economically sound future for all in Lewisham. This means continuing our efforts to tackle climate change for generations to come; ensuring that good health and wellbeing is equally accessible to everyone; and safeguarding local jobs and upskilling residents with tools they need to succeed. Building on the community spirit and activism that has helped us through the pandemic, we are committed to creating a Future Lewisham we can all have a part in.