Press Release

Emilija Škarnulytė: Æqualia

Canal Projects is pleased to present Æqualia (2023) a new immersive installation by artist Emilija Škarnulytė (Vilnius, b. 1987) opening January 19, 2024. Co-commissioned by Canal Projects and the 14th Gwangju Biennale, Æqualia features a video of Škarnulytė swimming through two bodies of water in the Amazon, shedding light on the ecosystem of the Encontro das Águas in Manaus, Brazil.



International exhibitions

International Archives 1st half of 2024

Emilija Skarnulyté and Adrian Balseca

Canal Projects, New York (United States)

19.01 - 30.03.2024




In the video, the artist submerges viewers in the confluence where Rio Solimões and Rio Negro gives birth to the Amazon River. Rio Solimões’s milky white waters, turbid with suspended silts and clays from the High Andes collides against the black and heavy flow of Rio Negro, dark with the decay of lowland rainforests. The stark difference in temperature, between the icy mountain water of the Rio Solimões and the warm Amazonian flow of Rio Negro, causes the two rivers to remain distinct in color for a six-kilometer stretch before merging. Their endless swirl is a fractal—describable, but infinitely complex and ultimately impossible to replicate.

In Æqualia, Škarnulytė presents the protagonist of the mermaid –bridging the human consciousness with the unknown depths of nature. Acting as a new species, the mermaid depicts a mythical being in a post-human world guiding viewers through both natural phenomena and human intervention.

Emilija Škarnulytė (b. 1987) is a Lithuanian-born nomadic artist and filmmaker. Working between documentary and speculative realms, Škarnulytė makes immersive installations exploring deep time and invisible structures. Her video works take viewers through decommissioned nuclear power plants, deep-sea data storage units, forgotten underwater cities, and uncanny natural phenomena. Through a future archaeologist’s perspective, the artist suggests that the environments and worlds we believe to be confined to science fiction and fantasy can already be found on our own planet. Diving deep into the earth and sea, the atomic and otherworldly, Škarnulytė reveals the consequences of human hubris with visions beyond what our species can see.

Adrian Balseca: Routing Rubber

Canal Projects will also host Ecuadorian artist Adrián Balseca’s (Quito, b. 1989) research on the plantation rubber industry. In ROUTING RUBBER, the artist challenges the idea of the Amazon as a natural horizon, centering this territory as the origin of industrial modernity. The black and white 16mm film, The Skin of Labour (2016) and its accompanying archive challenge the trope of the Amazon as a site of endless biodiversity and provides a view of the environment that is conditioned by the rules of the free market. These perspectives are, however, not mere portrayals of anthropogenic landscapes. Instead, they depict “nature” as a construct that is shaped by both colonial histories and the modern-industrial gaze.

The Skin of Labour depicts a stylized perspective of the extraction of liquid rubber from incisions in the tree bark. In its evocation of early media technologies Balseca’s work illuminates the transformation of the Amazon forest into a project of resource administration, land domestication, and organized labor. The archive, though an unofficial and partial collection of period ephemera, includes manuals and promotional pamphlets published by The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, The Pan American Union, and the 1939 New York World’s Fair. These historical materials visually link the incision patterns of rubber tapping with the growth of the automobile industry in the United States.

Balseca’s practice broadly focuses on South America’s extractive histories and contemplates their environmental impacts. Producing installations, photographs, and objects, the artist probes trajectories of economic exploitation that allow for reflections upon the physical, economic, and epistemic violence contained within the modes of production of multinational capitalist networks. Often beginning with site-specific interventions based on banal yet symbolic objects, the artist explores processes of manufacturing by introducing questions of nature, power, and memory.

Emilija Škarnulytė, Æqualia (still), 2023. Single-channel video installation, 9 minutes. Courtesy of the artist. Commissioned by Canal Projects and the 14th Gwangju Biennale.

Emilija Škarnulytė, Æqualia (still), 2023. Single-channel video installation, 9 minutes. Courtesy of the artist. Commissioned by Canal Projects and the 14th Gwangju Biennale.

Exhibition 19 January - 30 March 2024. Canal Projects, 351 Canal St - New York, NY 10013 (United States). Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 12–6pm.





Emilija Skarnulyté and Adrian Balseca, Canal Projects, New York, United States

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2024. All Rights Reserved