Eglė Budvytytė is a Lithuanian artist based in Amsterdam. They make videos and performance situations to explore the relationships between body, architecture, environment and audience. Their work was shown amongst others at Lofoten International Art festival; Art Dubai commissions 2017; Liste, Basel; Art Basel; 19th Biennale of Sydney; De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam; CAC, Vilnius; and Stedeljik Museum, Amsterdam. Budvytytė was resident at Le Pavillon, Palais de Tokyo, Paris in 2012 and at WIELS, Contemporary art centre, Brussels in 2013.
Eglė Budvytytė’s most recent preoccupation has been to explore the boundaries between the human and non-human, particularly in relation to desire and eroticism. Eroticism, however, in Budvytytė’s work should be understood as a state of mind rather than a mere aesthetic contemplation of sexuality and sexual desire. If eroticism for the Surrealist philosopher Georges Bataille was a transgressive force allowing the individual to trespass the limits of human subjectivity and thus achieve a communion with the humanity, Budvytytė’s eroticism, even more radically dissolves the boundaries between the individual subjectivity and the collectivity of humanity, as well as the boundaries between humans and other species, reintegrating the human into the nature.
In Liquid Power Has No Shame (2017), originally commissioned for the Lofoten International Art Festival and most recently performed at the Baltic Triennial 13 event Bastard Voices at the South London Gallery in March 2018, seductive and autoerotic movements of the androgynous performers gradually change into more humble gestures. Human verticality is abandoned to establish a new eroticised relationship to the scenic coastal landscape and the modest gallery garden respectively. Permeability of the human and non-human thus serves as an alternative model to the current instrumental relation of humans to nature that is dominated by the logic of extraction. Besides their movements, the chanting of the performers enhances the ritualistic dimension of the work, in which spoken word and singing contain the power of a spell, altering reality by utterance.
With their training in visual arts, compared to artists with background in dance and choreography, Budvytytė maintains a medial duality of ‘performative and cinematographic situations’. While most of their works exist either as video or live work, the structure of the work takes reference from both mediums. Their live actions are constructed both choreographically and cinematically, in terms of thinking in images constituted by the movement of performers through a carefully studied and constantly changing environment, as if performed for an absent camera replaced by the eye of the public.
While the majority of Budvytytė’s work has been conceived for public and predominantly urban space, the artist has recently turned their attention indoors, and has favoured the black box rather than the white-walled gallery. Unlike artists with training in dance and choreography, for whom the contemporary art context of the white cube initially provided an escape from the black box, Budvytytė rediscovers the potential of the black box as a controlled environment. While maintaining their distance from acting, the black box allows Budvytytė to further develop their interest in the relationship between the body and voice. Songs written by the artist themselves are performed in a variety of modalities, ranging from gentle chanting to rougher genres. The tension between gentle and rough is at the core of Budvytytė’s work, which is simultaneously humble, almost mundane, yet provocative and often antagonistic to the context from which it grows and simultaneously upsets.