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Photo: Martynas Plepys

Jellyfish


Mixed media
2018

Nemuno-7 (Kaunas 2022) Zapyškis, Lithuania

When I joined the “Nemuno 7” project, I chose the theme of aquatic fauna. Of all the organisers’ proposals, this theme was the closest to the line of work I have developed so far, which often intertwines surrealist imagery with a search for global awareness and a reflection on the consumerist way of life. It may not be the most important topic in the context of today’s events, but in the broader context of Russia’s expansive terror policy and the West’s impotence in trying to safely navigate between the pragmatic pursuit of profit and humanity, it is nevertheless an important issue.

When I came to see the dredge, I immediately saw an almost ideal place for the sculpture. Since the dredge, with its engineering mechanisms and the textures created by the effects of time and weathering, is already an object of art in its own right, I realised that even a visually striking piece would pale against such a backdrop. A crane on the back of the ship presented itself as a starting point. I thought I could hang the sculpture over the water, like a fishing catch. This seemed to be an ideal opportunity to show the sculpture from all angles (even using the reflection on the surface of the water) and to avoid the problem of placing it on a pedestal.

Back when I applied for this project, I wrote about Cnidaria. Jellyfish are probably the most abundant phylum of Cnidaria on the planet. However, I had my doubts about whether jellyfish live in the Nemunas – even the all-knowing Wikipedia says they are creatures of the seas and oceans. So, I thought about hydras and amoebae, but after some research, it turned out that the latter prefer still water rather than running water. Nevertheless, I decided to stick with the jellyfish. I remembered that the population of jellyfish in the planet’s oceans is increasing annually, while the number of fish that feed on them, tuna, is proportionally declining due to massive industrial fishing. It creates human-induced imbalances in the ocean ecosystem. Unfortunately, jellyfish are not suitable for human consumption, or at least there is no way to consume them yet. The only way to maintain balance is to reduce tuna consumption. But back from the world’s oceans to the Nemunas River basin, a little research has revealed that freshwater jellyfish have been found in recent years in the Mituva River, a tributary of the right bank of the Nemunas, in the Jurbarkas district. Earlier, this species of jellyfish was also found in water bodies in the gravel pits near Jurbarkas. I was relieved to find this information – after all, this is almost a native fauna. Now I can create a jellyfish.

 

Even when I depict something specific (in this case, a jellyfish), I try to use form and specific materials to bring out a certain mood that allows me to reveal an idea without having to interpret it in words. I thought that my jellyfish might resemble a fragment of a fallen or unexploded rocket, or maybe space debris... For this reason, alongside traditional materials such as metal and glass, I decided to use materials that are less common in my artistic practice – scrap metal and electronics, old wires, industrial high-pressure hoses, polyester resin. Although these materials are rather repulsive, it is at the same time a somewhat paradoxical attempt to create an aesthetic object out of something that is not attractive in itself.

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