Working between documentary and the imaginary, Emilija Škarnulytė creates films and immersive installations exploring deep time and invisible structures, from the geologic to the ecological, the mythic to the political. Transforming into a mermaid, the artist swims through the cosmos and the underworld, excavating the unknown, hidden, and too easily forgotten. Diving deep into the earth and sea, the atomic and otherworldly, Škarnulytė reveals the traces of human hubris and dimensions where we are not the center of the universe.
Commissioned by Canal Projects, Škarnulytė presents Æqualia (2023). Through lush video and scenography, the artist submerges us into the Encontro das Águas, a confluence of the Rio Solimões and Rio Negro in the Amazon Basin. Rio Solimões’s milky white waters, turbid with suspended silts and clays from the High Andes collide against the black and heavy flows of Rio Negro’s waters, dark with the decay of lowland rainforests. Their endless swirl is a fractal—describable, but infinitely complex and ultimately impossible to replicate. Throughout the film, Škarnulytė herself, as a mermaid, dives through the swirling edge of the two conflating streams, interacting there with the pink river dolphins who live there. Mirrored onto the ceiling, the images create another meeting point, blurring the boundary between myth and reality.
Location: The Meeting of Waters, Rio Solimões and Rio Negro, in Manaus, Brazil (3°8′12″S 59°54′17″W).
The project was commissioned by Canal Projects and co-produced with the 14th Gwangju Biennale, curated by Sook-Kyung Lee. Images courtesy of Mirror Matter Productions, Emilija Škarnulytė 2023.
Emilija Škarnulytė is a Lithuanian-born nomadic artist and filmmaker. Working between the realms of the documentary and the imaginary, Škarnulytė makes films and immersive installations exploring deep time and invisible structures. Her topics range from the cosmic and geological to the ecological and political.
Written and directed by: Emilija Škarnulytė
Producer: Emilija Škarnulytė
Editor: Vytautas Tinteris
Architect: Linas Lapinskas
Composers: Jokūbas Čižikas, Vivian Caccuri, Thiago Lanis, Savio de Queiroz
Sound mixing and mastering: Savio De Queiroz
Drone Pilot: Bruno Hayden Barreto
Underwater camera: Michael Dantas
Swimmer: Emilija Škarnulytė
Production: Mirror Matter Productions
Sook-Kyung Lee, Harry C. H. Choi, Nahyun Kim, Summer Guthery, Sara Garzon, Frances Reynolds, Lucas Albuquerque, the 14th Gwangju Biennale, Canal Projects, YS Kim Foundation, Instituto Inclusartiz.