First Arctic camouflage bodypainting series in the World created by artist Vilija Vitkute
These artworks were created in the Arctic: Norway, Lofoten Islands and North of Sweden, Abisko for Vilija’s solo project "The Landscapes Within”, “The Memory Of Water” project in collaboration with choreographer Małgosia Suś and "Living Landscapes” project with composer Tine Surel Lange. This creation was partly funded by Nordisk Kulturfond.
The images were created between 2015 and 2020 to raise awareness about the environment and nature.
In result of project there was released calendar 2021, prints, short films, documentary film and exhibition.
All prints are made in an eco-friendly way, created with love and care for the world and people to be inspired.
All received money will cover the further creation of "The Memory Of Water" project in 2021 and 2022.
For more information visit - www.thememoryofwater.org
Interview with WBF productions - https://www.wb-association.org/blog-activities/88-the-memory-of-water
There is a lot of exciting news coming up from many artists around the world during the pandemic. For example, WBA member Swedish Artist Vilija Vitkuté and her team have been working like crazy in the past months and created a huge production, "The Memory of Water" project.
After getting awarded with the World Champion title at the World Bodypainting Festival in 2019, she got a big drive in moving her art forward. The "Memory of Water" has been her focus since and today she announces the first big publication, the 2021 calendar. Let's jump into her world with her affection to the Arctic lands.
Vilija, tell us, how you spend your time during the pandemic?
Yes, we use this pandemic time to focus, let the dreams grow, concentrate on preparations, working with big patience and love, step by step moving forward. We have a great outcome already now and there will be much more in the future.
What are your intentions and the goal of your project?
“The Memory Of Water '' is my/our first so big and ambitious “dream” project. It started before the pandemic and continued regardless of it, and it is going to be developed during the next few years. It has been growing for many years before during different collaborations and projects about the environment created with dancers, body painters, filmmakers and visual teams within different art disciplines. The main project CEOs are me and my friend Malgorzata Sus.
“The Memory of Water” is a gathering of different art forms and international artists to inspire the world for a change, speak about important environmental topics, bring awareness about climate change, and direct people’s attention towards the beautiful world we live in. The project results in performance, exhibitions, educating and inspiring lectures, workshops, online store and in the future we hope to create a headquarters for the organization The Memory of Water Productions on an island so we can have a base for artists and audience to gather and share creative work, opportunities, exchange experiences and care about water and the environment.
We decided to focus on the water element and bring its stories and memories since we are coping with climate change and we are all responsible for taking actions to care about nature.
For now, we have built project ideas, art vision and plan. We have applied for first fundings, received some and waiting for more responses. The creation process is already happening. We are working fully to make the project come true. We have planned the water journey that already started in the Nordic region, and it will continue in Iceland, South Africa, Sweden, Alps, Austria, Lithuania and other places in 2021/2022. Smaller art residences will happen where we will focus on the water research and creation of bodypainting, photography, art and documentary films.
We are planning to present the first performance in summer 2022 and after that release, a documentary film and an art film, and travel with the project to grow as artists and as human beings, and inspire the world. We fervently believe that artists are a crucial voice in discussing climate change and human impact on nature.
What is your connection to the location, to the nature of the Arctic?
I’m a Nordic spirit, that's where home of my soul is and where big inspiration and love for creation comes from. I love nature and I want to protect it. I'm in love with the Arctic for the bigger part of my life. I know it's pretty crazy irrational to be a bodypainter and create in the Arctic, who does that?
Well, I love to create something different, face unique and creative challenges. I used to travel over 2000 km to the islands of Lofoten where I researched the sea, mountains and all wonderful fauna and flora life. People of the islands are so welcoming and there at the end of the world, I found people that live their dreams and are truly themselves, caring for one another. I fell in love with it and I want to be a part of this unique energy. Of course, the Arctic climate and weather are challenging to live in, but there is no such thing like “bad weather” - it is only an illusion, you learn how to deal with it. You understand that as a human you are a part of nature and sometimes because of big winds or storms you need to wait, respect the storm, feel it and enjoy it, and be patient, because after every storm come rewarding colourful sun horizons, and you feel like in heaven and blessed to be in such a place, seeing the landscapes where large aurora borealis dances in the sky.
Right before the New Year, the 2021 calendar has been published. It’s a camouflage bodypainting calendar with wonderful images, the shooting location, in that case, makes these artworks even more impressive. Where was that and what are the challenges with such productions?
The calendar was created in the Arctic: Norway, Lofoten area and Abisko, North of Sweden. It took me 5 years to gather images for it. Because of the challenging weather, which is changing all the time, from very still to stormy just in an hour, I could make only a few camouflage body paintings in 1 month period and I needed to learn how to paint very fast so the model doesn't freeze. I needed to search for tough models, among local people and collaborating artists, who could make this amazing project happen. Since once I became a model in Arctic weather conditions, I know how it feels to be painted outdoors and what body is going through, and that's when I found out about the breathing methods that keep you warm and the meditation that holds your mind focused away from cold. I even invented invisible warming shoes to keep models’ feet warm and blood circulation running. I managed to do bodypainting in winter with Northern lights - it took me 3 months until I could catch the right moment. It's a lot about patience, waiting for the right moment.
I have created over 25 images and selected 13 best pictures for my first calendar - the first-ever camouflage bodypainting calendar created in the Arctic.
How do you prepare for such a shooting and how do you choose your models?
I meet different models, mostly local people, who really want to be in my project and support such a challenging and unique adventure. I share with them my experience and we build trust and belief that makes it all happen in its best. The flexibility and adaptability matter because the weather constantly changes. I have to wait every day for good weather and when it comes, go out as fast as possible to the right location to paint. I usually have few location options because of different lights and winds. I spend some time just looking at the landscape and memorising its colour and textures, I set up, take a test position picture before and then start fully focused working on the camouflage. It takes from 20 min to 1 hour to paint, picture and film.
This calendar and also images are available in different formats. I saw a note that all sold products will fund the Memory Of Water project.
So it’s a fundraiser for something much bigger?
Yes, we have large format 30x40 and smaller 20x30, and as well some prints and postcards for sale. All money will go to The Memory of Water project so we can continue the creation of it. For example, we have planned a journey to Iceland and to South Africa where we want to make research, create new materials, and prepare a presentation.
Thank you Vilija, we are looking forward to seeing the first performance and exhibitions in 2021 in the Scandinavian region but also for the 24th World Bodypainting Festival in Klagenfurt in July.