A Venice Biennale 2022 shortlist project at the Rothko Centre courtyard

  • 2022-09-07

At 4 p.m. on 16 September, an installation by the artist Maria Gvardeitseva, DRYGVA. BREATHE IN – BREATHE OUT, will open in the art tent of the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre courtyard. 

With her project DRYGVA. BREATHE IN – BREATHE OUT, Maria Gvardeitseva rediscovers her roots and the vanishing memory of the original Belarussian identity. The story of DRYGVA (Belarussian for ‘swamp’) started with a childhood memory and grew into a complex fairy-tale universe. 

The immersive space recreates a marshland with its unstable soil, warm, scented air, opaque and deep colours and softness of light. The line between water and earth, life and death, birth and resurrection is forever liminal, shrouded in marshland mists. DRYGVA inevitably turns every visitor who steps onto the quagmire surface into a wanderer who loses his footing and tumbles right into a new world, where secret whispers of ancient legends follow every step of this unexpected journey, one deep breath at a time.

By way of solution, Maria puts Belarussian women quite literally in the spotlight through her series of portraits on fabric. This is her tribute to the sculptor Helena Skyrmunt, naïve artist Alena Kish, painter Maria Gażycz, author Anna Strunsky, poet and educator Vera Maslovskaya and many unnamed craftswomen, herbalists and healers. Like fireflies, these women guide the traveller into Maria Gvardeitseva’s marshland universe, where they come alive and sparkle to DRYGVA’s soft and enigmatic heartbeat.

DRYGVA. BREATHE IN – BREATHE OUT was shortlisted to appear in the Belarus pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2022. Due to Maria’s political opinions, the project got censored. At the end of the day, the Belarus pavilion never opened.

The installation project DRYGVA. BREATHE IN – BREATHE OUT by Maria Gvardeitseva will open together with the closing exhibition of the MARK ROTHKO 2022 International Painting Symposium.

On show through 30 September 2022.