Oh make your fingernails into spades, Your palms into shovels
01.04.2022 - 14.05.2022, Kunstraum Niederoesterreich, Vienna
(c) Dorota Gaweda & Egle Kulbokaite, Mouthless Part II, 2021 (video still)

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
Venue: Kunstraum Niederoesterreich, Vienna

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.

Titled Stages of Grief, the annual programme of Kunstraum Niederoesterreich 2022 is dedicated to the liminal shape of our present – the collective trauma of the health crisis of recent years is not yet over, but our mourning for all that we have lost is becoming all the more evident. Gawęda and Kulbokaitė’s solo exhibition connects to this sentiment, while still maintaining its own aesthetic and theoretical universe.

After meeting during studies at the Royal College of Art in London, Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė have been working as a duo since 2013. Their multimedia practice – which includes performances, videos, sculptural and installation works, but perfumes, too – draws from extensive historical and theoretical research processes, a high sensitivity towards materials, and intellectual openness. They founded the YOUNG GIRL READING GROUP, a nomadic reading circle, in 2013, received the Swiss Performance Art Award in 2021 along with the Collide Residency Award, which will support their residencies at CERN (Geneva) and at Hangar in Barcelona in 2022.