Arcadia University Awarded Grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Supporting “Sun & Sea (Marina)”

By Caitlin T. Burns | October 29, 2020

Sun & Sea (Marina), opera-performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė, representing Lithuania at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 2019. Photography by Andrej Vasilenko, Courtesy the artists.

Arcadia Exhibitions is pleased to announce the award of a project grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for $300,000 (with an additional 20 percent, $60,000, provided in unrestricted general operating support) that will support the presentation of Sun & Sea (Marina), a contemporary Lithuanian opera performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė. Set on an artificial “beach” viewed from a mezzanine above, the work features a crowd of swimsuit-clad performers conveying anxieties that range from sunburn to environmental catastrophe. The 60-minute piece, which loops for durations of up to six hours, received the Golden Lion for best national presentation at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The work’s appearance in Philadelphia will feature the original cast, including twelve soloists, joined by non-singing extras sourced from the community.

Blurring the boundaries between music, theater, poetry and visual art, Sun & Sea (Marina) eloquently addresses some of the most urgent ecological and economic issues of our time without pretense. The work is experienced as a living diorama populated by approximately forty intergenerational performers applying sunscreen, checking their phones, reading, knitting, playing badminton, etc. Relaxing under the glare of the “sun” on a mosaic of towels, the performers range in walks of life, body types, and ethnic diversity. The characters, which include a “workaholic”, a “wealthy mommy”, the “philosopher”, and the “3D-sisters” (performed by identical twins), sing solos that mix trivial preoccupations—worries about sunburn and future vacations—with nagging fears of environmental crises. Accompanied by an electronic organ, these short arias, which evoke hymns and pop songs, coalesce into a universal choir, “tired bodies offering a metonym for a tired planet.”

Information about the venue and presentation dates for Sun & Sea (Marina) will be communicated when these details are finalized. 

Sun & Sea (Marina) has been widely celebrated as among the most effective works to address the tension between a global leisure economy and ecological malaise, complicated now by the exigencies of a pandemic. Its success hinges on the deceptively playful manner in which it allows audiences to respond in ways that parallel the complexity and universality of our environmental turmoil. As the project’s curator Lucia Pietroiusti has written: “For all of its subtle, emotional, environmental anxiety, Sun & Sea (Marina) carries its characters’ foolish optimism in the face of overwhelming evidence not with judgment but with relative care, with something akin to self recognition.”

Sun & Sea (Marina) is the second collaboration for the three artists, the first being their celebrated Have a Good Day! (2013), an opera that addressed gender, ageing, and labor with songs sung by ten supermarket checkout clerks, each providing a glimpse into the concerns of their daily lives.

Since being hosted by the Venice Biennale, Sun & Sea (Marina) has been presented at the Borealis Festival, Bergen, Norway (March 2020); the Zürcher Theater Spektakel, Zurich, Switzerland (August 2020), and the Kunstfestspiele Hanover, Germany (October 2020).

Find out more information about the opera performance at

About The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative, and catalytic work that showcases the region’s cultural vitality and enhances public life, and engages in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders.


About Arcadia Exhibitions 
Arcadia Exhibitions organizes programming for four distinct galleries on campus throughout the calendar year, including its anchor space, which is housed in a former power station built in 1892. The program’s goal is to provide a broad-based constituency with a stimulating roster of individual and thematic exhibitions of contemporary art featuring work from the campus community as well as regional, national, and global sources. Lectures, panel discussions, tours, and publications generate vital contexts for each exhibition while also serving as a forum to encourage dialogue among artists, educators, students, and the general public about contemporary art and its socio-cultural relevance. Exhibitions and projects tour national and international venues and are reviewed in major publications. All programs are free and open to the public. Visit

About Arcadia University 
Arcadia University is a top-ranked private University in greater Philadelphia and a national leader in international education. U.S. News & World Report ranks Arcadia nationally among the top universities in study abroad as well as among the top regional universities in the north. The Princeton Review has named Arcadia among the Best in the Northeast for five consecutive years, while the University’s Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant programs are nationally ranked in their respective categories by U.S. News & World Report. Arcadia University promises a distinctively global, integrative, and personal learning experience that prepares students to contribute and lead in a diverse and dynamic world. Visit