Oh, make your fingernails into spades, Your palms into shovels

Mouthless Part II © Dorota Gawęda & Eglė Kulbokaitė

Opening: TH, 31 03 2022, 7:00 pm
Duration: FR, 01 04 2022 – SA, 14 05 2022
Curator: Katharina Brandl
Artists: Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė


The exhibition programme of Kunstraum Niederoesterreich will open in 2022 with the first institutional solo exhibition of the Polish-Lithuanian duo Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė in Austria.

The title of the exhibition Oh, make your fingernails into spades, Your palms into shovels refers to two lines of a lament the artists wrote as the basis for their video installation Mouthless Part II (2021), which will also be part of the exhibition. The elegiac-sounding piece refers to the Lithuanian tradition of the Sutartinė – traditional, polyphonic folk songs that accompany liminal moments such as weddings, but also everyday work or the harvest.

Long fingernails digging into the ground as spades and palms shovelling earth – these images express direct, unmediated contact between humans and nature, but in Gawęda and Kulbokaitė’s practice they also stand for an understanding of relationality that unsettles obvious dichotomies. In their multilayered references to Slavic-Baltic traditions, such as the ancestral celebration Dziady, the gates between the living and the dead are opened as a matter of course, and they invite us to a communal mourning of the great losses of our present times.


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