Hi Neringa and Ugnius! We are happy for the opportunity to interview you as part of the new group exhibition held in CCA Tel Aviv “Stumbling Through the Uncanny Valley: Sculpture and Self in the Age of Computer Generated Imagery” curated by Chen Tamir.
1. So the first obvious question will be: what is Pakui Hardware stands for?
Pakui Hardware is a combination of two opposites: Pakui is a Hawaiian mythological character, a runner that is able to circle an island six times a day, thus it refers to speed, velocity of development of technologies or capital’s expansion, it is more semiotic part of the real. While Hardware is the matter, the body, various materials and their performative combinations, their potentials. Thus it is a productive friction between these two realms.
Credits: Alexander Schmidt/PUNCTUM
2. When and how your collaboration started? What is the importance in working in a duo for you?
Our first show as Pakui Hardware was presented in 2014 in Vilnius Contemporary Art Center. The show was called The Metaphysics of the Runner, and that is where our friend curator Alex Ross came up with the name Pakui Hardware - it included the mythological runner figure in the title. Working in a duo is so natural for us, that it would seem a little strange to pursue individual practice at the moment. It’s great to test each other’s ideas, to constantly exchange references and visions, to be open for criticism, and it’s much easier to pack works together!
3. You define yourself as: “Capital traveling through bodies and materials”. What is your relation to economy? How does capitalism embody into form through your work?
By employing and exploring various fields and case studies, we are trying to track how capital penetrates and even catalyses diverse processes starting from asteroid mining to (re)search of bodily rejuvenation. It is interesting how this is a driving force for so many things that at the same time get quickly and violently exhausted by never-ending expansion and accumulation of capital. That is why when we analyse relationship of technologies to body, we also always speak about the entanglement of those technologies with economy.
4. What is guiding you in choosing materials to work with? What sort of feeling do you try to conceive by their assembly?
Quite often materials find us first and trigger our visions for future projects. We’re always excited about the potential of material performativity: how a combination of natural and artificial materials, such as chia seeds and silicone or grass with resin, create something ‘third’, something unexpected even for us. By combining such seemingly opposite elements, we attempt to create a sense of uncanniness, to play with the viewer’s assumptions of what is natural and what is man-made.
5. While installing your work, what kind of relations are you trying to generate between your sculptures, their surrounding and the spectators?
We refer to our installations as environments or eco-systems, because they’re very much about including all elements in the space - starting from light, spatial configuration of the room, to our sculptures that sometimes include processual and evolving parts, such as vaporisers or water sprinklers, for example. Thus a viewer enters a space where all the elements affect each other and even change each other over time. We often even try to make the viewer feel as an intruder into an enclosed and sensitive environment, full of ambiguous creatures.
Credits: CCA Tel Aviv
6. Collaboration with different kinds of professionals and craftsmanship are an integral part of your production process. Can you portray on this process? To what extent technology and industry are part of it and how much theory and research are involved?
Each project requires a different approach and different kind of skills, therefore the collaborations can vary from glass blowers to 3D modelling specialists, from architects to designers. As we avoid to get repetitive, the demand of diverse skills is growing over time. It is always exciting to try out new materials, new technologies. Glass was probably one of the most delightful experience for us. Next to finding new collaborators (or before we start looking for them) there is always a period of research taking place on a selected topic or issue. We don’t try to illustrate theory of philosophy with our works, however. It is always just a starting point for further reflections that are then translated through and transformed by materials.
7. It is known that East European art is getting more and more attention nowadays. What is the Lithuanian contemporary art scene looks like? Do you feel part of it? After showing in several countries around the world do you see your work as part of a globalized aesthetic or does it also finds roots in your region?
Lithuanian art scene is very vibrant for such a small country. New museums and project spaces appear every few years bringing new winds into the scene. The country has several high-profile residencies, institutions and a number of internationally acknowledged artists. As the art market is still quite small in Lithuania, it pushes artists and organisations to experiment, to work in manners that would be less appreciated in a market driven art scenes. Yet perhaps it would be good to also have some smart and internationally commercial art galleries that could help local artists to establish themselves and to maintain themselves without taking up thousand additional jobs to survive. We totally feel part of the scene, and Neringa also co-runs a project space called Editorial that is located at the heart of Vilnius and is dedicated primarily to support young artists by providing them a space for solo presentations.
8. The current exhibition in the CCA Tel Aviv gatherers artworks under the term Post-internet art. Can you explain the meaning of the term for you? What do you think about this term? Are you in ease with being referred to as a Post-internet artists?
We never felt we are really part of the Post-Internet group or trend as we barely made any work that refers directly to how digital technologies have transformed our environment and our relationship to the environment. We cared even less about the abundance of images and their mutations. From the very beginning we focused on bodies and materials more than on images and digital culture. Thus new materialism and post-digital would be closer to what we do. Although we reflect and explore various technologies in our practice, but those technologies are mainly focused on transformation of bodies, be it human or bacterial bodies.
Credits: CCA Tel Aviv
9. The focus on sculpture in this exhibition evoke a return to physicality in a much growing digital era. Do you think this medium has a unique attitude toward Post-internet art? Does your sculptures function as digital imagery or in which way does the internet embedded within them?
In the work “The Return of Sweetness” is not so much deriving from digital realm, but from invasive relationship to internal part of our bodies. The sculptures are like outward organisms, open for your inspection, just like various tracking technologies are more and more exposing our internals to others. When making this work, we looked at various methods to make gastric bypass surgeries that are made to control the amount of food that enters the body. It was interesting and a little scary to think how organs are literally being sculpted in our bodies and how something that was individual, such as metabolism, is more and more monitored and controlled. By combining soft and hard, synthetic and natural materials, we wanted to create this post-natural kind of feeling, of organisms that no longer belong to us.
Credits: Ugnius Gelguda and Alexander Schmidt/PUNCTUM
10. Can you give us a glimpse of your upcoming solo exhibition in the Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig? What are you currently working on?
“Underbelly” is an entirely new immersive installation inspired by and developed for the luminous spaces of MdBK Leipzig. In it, the viewer enters a sort of an oversized belly – soft and open for inspection. Transparent quasi-familiar objects are impressed in the fabric of the giant belly – they too resemble enlarged organisms. They voluntarily expose themselves for examination, opening their interiors for the viewer’s eye. Invasive medicine of the past is substituted here by (un)conscious and enthusiastic self exhibition and health’s data philanthropy. Our underbellies are now uncovered for everyone.
11. We will soon complete our studies at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. What did you do after graduating? How was it for you? Do you have any recommendations for us freshly emerging artists?
Work work work! Be curious and don’t think about survival, otherwise you’ll sacrifice your ideas for comfortable living.
Credits: Ugnius Gelguda and Alexander Schmidt/PUNCTUM
Thank you for your time! Mina and Eldar