Emilija Škarnulytė

Emilija Škarnulytė (b. Vilnius, Lithuania 1987) is an artist and filmmaker.

Working between documentary and the imaginary, Škarnulytė makes films and immersive installations exploring deep time and invisible structures, from the cosmic and geologic to the ecological and political. Her blind grandmother gently touches the weathered statue of a Soviet dictator. Neutrino detectors and particular colliders measure the cosmos with otherworldly architecture. Post-human species swim through submarine tunnels above the Arctic Circle and crawl through tectonic fault lines in the Middle Eastern desert.

Winner of the 2019 Future Generation Art Prize, Škarnulytė represented Lithuania at the XXII Triennale di Milano and was included in the Baltic Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. With solo exhibitions at Tate Modern (2021), Kunsthaus Pasquart (2021), Den Frie (2021), National Gallery of Art in Vilnius (2021), CAC (2015) and Kunstlerhaus Bethanien (2017), she has participated in group shows at Ballroom Marfa, Seoul Museum of Art, Kadist Foundation, and the First Riga Biennial. In 2022, Škarnulytė participated in the group exhibition Penumbra organized by Fondazione In Between Art Film on the occasion of the 59th Venice Biennale. Her numerous prizes include the Kino der Kunst Project Award, Munich (2017); Spare Bank Foundation DNB Artist Award (2017), and the National Lithuanian Art Prize for Young Artists (2016)), and she was nominated as the candidate for the Ars Fennica art award 2023. She received an undergraduate degree from the Brera Academy of Art in Milan and holds a masters from the Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art.

Her films are in the IFA, Kadist Foundation and Centre Pompidou collections and have been screened at the Serpentine Gallery, UK, Centre Pompidou, France, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in numerous film festivals including in Rotterdam, Busan, and Oberhausen. Most recently she concluded her tenures at Art Explora and Cite des Art, which occurred on the heels of another significant residency at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. She is a founder and currently co-directs Polar Film Lab, a collective for analogue film practice located in Tromsø, Norway and is a member of artist duo New Mineral Collective, recently commissioned for a new work by the First Toronto Biennial.

Eternal Return, Tate Modern, 2021

Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom

2021 10 29 – 10 31

Emilija Škarnulytė conceived the installation for Tate Modern’s South Tank to mark COP26 (the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference, taking place this year in Glasgow). Set 10,000 years in the future, looking into the past (our present), the artist dives into deep time, from the cosmic and geological, to the ecological and political.

The artist based the work on mapping technologies, such as sonar, remote sensing and seafloor scanning, and set out to explore structures in the depths of the sea. These include Baia, an ancient Roman city now under water due to seismic activity in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico, where laboratory-bred corals are used to restore the ecosystems damaged in consecutive oil spills, among other sites.

Dressed as a mermaid, the artist freedives in an attempt to measure space and time, using her own body as a scale. Reflecting upon Škarnulytė’s work, the poet Quinn Latimer encourages us to ‘hold our breath. Drop. Dive. Open our eyes. Leave our body at the surface. We are now all eye, like a drill; all tail, like a fish.’

Curators Valentine Umansky and Katy Wan

Organised by Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational in partnership with Hyundai Motor.

Tate Modern