Set on an artificial “beach” viewed from a mezzanine above, Sun & Sea 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 will be joined by non-singing extras sourced from the community.
Blurring the boundaries between music, theater, poetry, and visual art, Sun & Sea 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 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.”
Sun & Sea 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' remains one of the greatest achievements in performance of the last 10 years..."
"...a masterpiece of culture in a changing climate...."
Sun & Sea is the second collaboration for the three artists, the first being their celebrated Have a Good Day! (2013), an opera that addressed gender, aging, 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 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). Presentations in 2021 have included the following: CPH Stage/Copenhagen Contemporary Copenhagen; Teatro Argentina, Rome, and E-Werk Luckenwalde (Germany).
Arcadia Exhibitions’ presentation of Sun & Sea is the second stop on a national tour from Sep 15—Oct 16 that begins in Brooklyn (BAM), and continues to Bentonville, AR (The Momentary), and Los Angeles (The Hammer, MOCA, and CAP UCLA).
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,
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
Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė Direction and Set Design
Barzdžiukaitė works as a filmmaker, theatre director, and artist. In her creative practice, she 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 last year and is traveling in film festivals around the world.
Photography by: Andrej Vasilenko
Vaiva Grainytė Libretto
Grainytė is a writer, playwright, and poet. Her creative practice usually crosses the confines of deskwork and becomes an integral part of an interdisciplinary polylogue in the form of radio plays, operas, site-specific performances, and musicals. Her book of essays Beijing Diaries (2012) was nominated for the Lithuanian Book of the Year award in the adult literature category and included in the top twelve listings of the most creative books for that year. Vaiva’s poetry debut Gorilla’s Archives was published in 2019 and according to critics recognized as a distinguished voice of neo-avant-garde poetry.
Photography by: Andrej Vasilenko
Lina Lapelytė Music and Music Direction
Lapelytė is an artist, musician, and composer. Her performance-based practice is rooted in music and flirts with pop culture, gender stereotypes, and nostalgia. Lapelyte’s works were presented at KIM in Riga, Rupert in Vilnius (solo exhibition), 1857 gallery in Oslo, the Modern Art Museum in Malmo, MACBA in Barcelona, and DRAF in London. Upcoming shows include Cartier Foundation in Paris, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and Kunsthalle Praha.
Lucia Pietroiusti Curator
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 program, dedicated to the environment (2020-22). Recent publications include More-than-Human (with Andrés Jaque and Marina Otero Verzier).
Local Credits for Philadelphia Presentation of Sun & Sea
Presenter: Arcadia University
Organizers: Richard Torchia, Director, Arcadia Exhibitions, and Martin Hartung, Curatorial Adviser
Engagement and Experiences Operations: Colleen Walsh
Photography: Johanna Austin, Aaron Igler Videographer: Brandon Hodnett
Special thanks to: Ajay Nair, Jeff Rutenbeck, Rebecca Kohn, Joe Sun, Brigette A. Bryant, Alison LaLond-Wyant, Mimi Bassetti, Molly Foster, Jamar Nicholas, Cara Palladino, Jen Retter, Lisa Stephens, Tony Zimba, Elizabeth Ferrell, Carole Loeffler, Marianne Miserandino, Prash Naidu, Mark Wade, Kat Bleiweiss, Julia Maurer, Harley Cannella, Natasha Litwinow, Ibrahim Sillah, Rob Edmondson, Jim Everets, InProduction, Elizabeth Moreau, Stonie Darling, Jimmy Walden, Sarah Garvey, David Binder, Lieven Bertels, Pia Kishore Agrawal, Kay Matschullat, Peter Meanwell, Marina McDougall, Eileen Neff, Rob Carpick and Parker LaMascus, Israel Burshatin, Cynthia Veloric, Alice Beamesderfer, Rob Carpick, Parker LaMascus, Marina McDougall, Cynthia Veloric, Eileen Neff, and Israel Burshatin.
Masks are required to enter and attend the indoor performance.
All volunteers must register proof of vaccination.
For the safety of audiences, artists, staff, and our greater community, you must be fully vaccinated to attend this event. Fully vaccinated means two weeks after your second dose. You will be asked to show proof of vaccination before entering the venue.
Accepted forms for proof of vaccination include a physical vaccine card with your name on it or a digital photo of your vaccine card on a cell phone. Please plan accordingly.
Arcadia Exhibitions is currently hiring non-singing extras to join Sun & Sea.
If you are interested in spending some time on the beach, please fill out this form.
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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.
Free Related Event
Dioramas of the Anthropocene
Sunday, October 3, 2021
11:00 AM– 12:00PM
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Employing the Academy’s collection of habitat displays as a platform for conversation, this event will explore artistic strategies behind the opera-performance Sun & Sea, widely celebrated as one of the most compelling artworks to address the climate crisis to date.
In a panel discussion moderated by Richard Torchia (Director of Arcadia Exhibitions at Arcadia University) in conversation with Sun & Sea curator Lucia Pietroiusti (beaming in remotely) and artists Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė, participants will discuss the bird’s-eye view — integral to the artists’ conception of the opera-performance — as a means to picture our species’ relationship to a warming planet.
After the program, attendees are invited to explore the dioramas of the Academy's African and Asian halls on their own.