Arcadia Exhibitions Brings U.S. Tour of Sun & Sea to Philadelphia Fringe Festival

By diprinziod | August 13, 2021
A photo of the Sun & Sea, an opera-performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė.

Arcadia Exhibitions at Arcadia University is pleased to announce its presentation of Sun & Sea as part of the 2021 Philadelphia Fringe Festival and the second venue of the US Tour of this celebrated opera-performance. Blurring the lines between music, theater, poetry, and visual art, the work will run September 30-October 3.

This contemporary Lithuanian opera-performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė, and curated by Lucia Pietroiusti, is set on an artificial “beach” viewed from a four-sided mezzanine above and directs our attention to a crowd of swimsuit-clad performers conveying anxieties that range from sunburn to environmental catastrophe. The 60-minute piece, which will loop for a duration of five hours, received the Golden Lion for best national presentation at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The Philadelphia presentation of the work will feature the original cast, including thirteen soloists who are joined by non-singing extras sourced from the community. Arcadia Exhibitions is actively recruiting individuals, including families, in the area to serve this purpose and invites potential participants to fill out an interest form. All volunteers must register proof of vaccination. 

All performances, which run from 3 to 8 p.m., will take place at the Budd, 3431 Fox St. in the Nicetown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Tickets are $25 and will be available on August 9, 2021 at, the Fringe Box Office, or by phone at 215-413-1318. Masks are required to enter and attend the indoor performance.

Sun & Sea addresses the urgent ecological and economic issues of the anthropocene without pretense. The work is a living diorama populated by 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 sand fleas and future vacations—with nagging fears of environmental crises. Accompanied by an electronic organ, these short arias, which evoke hymns and pop songs, merge into a universal choir of “tired bodies offering a metonym for a tired planet.”

​​”Forgoing prescriptions or judgment, Sun & Sea offers, instead, an aerial but intimate picture of inaction in response to the climate emergency and how it has become part of our everyday lives,” said Richard Torchia, director of Arcadia Exhibitions. “As a work that fluidly integrates visual art, music, and poetry—as well as the local and the global, viewers and performers—Sun & Sea provides a timely opportunity to explore the nuances of our species’ relationship with the planet and to frame this dynamic at a range of scales that echoes the University’s efforts to support equity and social justice.”

Sun & Sea is widely celebrated among the most compelling 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 simple 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 carries its characters’ foolish optimism in the face of overwhelming evidence not with judgment but with relative care, with something akin to self-recognition.”

Since being hosted by the Venice Biennale, Sun & Sea has been traveling across Europe. The current U.S. Tour includes stops in Brooklyn, New York (Brooklyn Academy of Music, September 15-26); Philadelphia (Arcadia Exhibitions, as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, September 30-October 3); Bentonville, Arkansas (The Momentary/Crystal Bridges, October 6-9); and Los Angeles (The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, October 14-16), as part  of a collaboration between The Hammer, MOCA, and the Center for the Art of Performance (CAP/UCLA).

Major support for Sun & Sea has been provided to Arcadia Exhibitions by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from Arcadia University.

About the Artists

Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė works as a filmmaker, theatre director and visual artist. In her creative practice, Barzdžiukaitė explores the gap between objective and imagined realities, while playfully challenging an anthropocentric way of thinking. Her recent full-length documentary film-essay Acid Forest, awarded at the Locarno International Film Festival among others, was shown at the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), Lincoln Center (NYC), the American Film Institute festival (LA), and at many other events and venues for cinema and contemporary art. Sun & Sea is her latest collaboration in the medium of performance.

Vaiva Grainytė‘s 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 defamiliarized nature. Her book of essays Beijing Diaries (2012) and the poetry collection Gorilla’s Archives (2019) were nominated for the Lithuanian Book of the Year award 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’s 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.

Lucia Pietroiusti is a curator working at the intersection of art, ecology and systems, mostly outside of the gallery format. She is the founder and curator of the General Ecology project at Serpentine, London; as well as the curator of Sun & Sea. Current projects include the 2020-21 Shanghai Biennale (with Marina Otero Verzier, Filipa Ramos, YOU Mi. Chief Curator: Andrés Jaque); The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish, with Filipa Ramos; Serpentine Podcast, and Back to Earth – Serpentine’s 50th anniversary programme, dedicated to the environment (2020-22). Recent publications include More-than-Human (with Andrés Jaque and Marina Otero Verzier).
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.

Performance Credits

Sun & Sea

  • Presented by Arcadia Exhibitions at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival
  • Performances September 30-October 3
  • An opera-performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė
  • Concept and development – Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė
  • Director and set designer – Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė
  • Lyrics – Vaiva Grainytė
  • Music and musical direction – Lina Lapelytė
  • Curator – Lucia Pietroiusti
  • Tour producer – Aušra Simanavičiūtė
  • Tour coordinator / stage manager – Erika Urbelevič
  • Technical director – Lique Van Gerven
  • Translator (Lithuanian to English) – Rimas Užgiris
  • Sound engineer – Romuald Chaloin Galiauskas
  • Live soundtrack – Salomėja Petronytė
  • Singing performers – Evaldas Alekna, Aliona Alymova, Svetlana Bagdonaitė, Marco Cisco, Auksė Dovydėnaitė, Saulė Dovydėnaitė, Claudia Graziadei, Lucas Lopes Pereira, Artūras Miknaitis, Vytautas Pastarnokas, Eglė Paškevičienė, Kalliopi Petrou, Ieva Skorubskaitė, and Nabila Dandara Vieira Santos.
  • Performers – Raminta Barzdžiukienė, Dovydas Korba, Vincentas Korba, Jeronimas Petraitis, Juozas Petraitis, Mantas Petraitis, Pranas Petraitis, Jonas Statkevičius, and others.
  • Visual identity – Goda Budvytytė
  • Catalogue and vinyl concept and design – Åbäke
  • Founding producer – Neon Realism
  • Co-producers – Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts, Akademie Schloss Solitude Goethe-Institut, Münchner Kammerspiele, National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Staatsschauspiel Dresden, The Momentary,
  • Arkansas
  • Sponsor – JCDecaux
  • Commissioner (Sun & Sea (Marina), Venice, 2019) – Rasa Antanavičiūtė
  • Founding Patrons (Sun & Sea (Marina), Venice, 2019) – Lithuanian Council for Culture, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Laurenz Foundation in Basel, Vilnius City Municipality

About Arcadia Exhibitions

Arcadia Exhibitions organizes programming for four distinct gallery spaces on campus throughout the calendar year. Its goal is to provide a broad-based community constituency with a stimulating roster of individual and thematic exhibitions of contemporary art ranging in scope and stature from the regional to the international. Public lectures, panel discussions, gallery tours, and receptions 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.

About the Philadelphia Fringe Festival

The Philadelphia Fringe Festival is a 4-week long, city-wide celebration of innovation and creativity in contemporary performance. Each September, the Festival explodes into every nook and cranny of Philadelphia with more than 1,000 artistically daring performances, including national and international performances curated by FringeArts, and works produced by hundreds of independent artists. 2021 marks the 25th annual Fringe Festival, which will run September 9—October 3.

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.