Row row row, the quest is on,
find love, find freedom, row up, row down
row together, row up space and row down time,
Back and forth, row up yours and row down mine,
Row row row, to the sound
And sink sink sink to the ground

For her new durational performance, the artist turns to water as a vast and ever-changing terrain that, despite the all-pervading science, remains immersed in undulating layers of myth and symbolism. Rowing and singing in a boat amid blue and pink ripples of chlorinated water and surrounded by a troupe of synchronised swimmers, the artist explores our deepest and ever prevailing search for passion, love and consolation.

Kris Lemsalu (b. 1985 in Tallinn) is an artist based in New York and Tallinn. Having studied ceramics, Lemsalu often experiments with traditional techniques, creating multi-layered works. Playing with traditions and contemporaneity, Lemsalu blurs origins and eliminates their dogmas on stage. A punk pagan spoof feminist sci-fi shaman, she assembles found and crafted objects into totemic sculptures and hallucinatory environments enlivened by performances by the artist and her cast of collaborators. Her installations combine delicate porcelain sculptures cast as animal and human body parts or clothing objects with found natural materials such as fur, leather or wool. These can function as standalone narratives or as a stage for Lemsalu’s performances, the sculptures sometimes becoming part of her costumes and props. For recent works, the artist collaborated with musicians adding a further element to her performances (with Kyp Malone at Performa 17 Biennial in New York and with Glasser at DRAF performance night, KOKO, London, both 2017).

Lemsalu represented Estonia at the 58th Venice Biennial in 2019. Her work has been recently presented at important art institutions and galleries internationally including Meyer Kainer in Vienna (2022); High Line Art in New York (2021); Hunt Kastner in Prague (2021); Den Frie in Copenhagen (2020); KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (2020); Secession in Vienna (2018); Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art in London (2018); Kiasma in Helsinki (2018); Koppe Astner in Glasgow (2017–2018); Tanya Leighton in Berlin; CONDO London (2017); Galeria Nicodim, Bucharest (2017); KAI 10 / Arthena Foundation in Düsseldorf, Galerie Guido W. Baudach in Berlin, and Galerie SVIT in Prague (2017); and Tallinn Art Hall (2016) among many others.

The work made in collaboration with Edith Karlson
Choreographer: Ieva Navickaitė
Artistic swimmers’s coach: Irena Čeilutkė
Artistic swimming: Džolita Adomkienė, Ieva Bielickienė, Aistė Jakutytė, Aurelija Liutkuvienė, Jurga Nacevičienė, Lina Prakevičiūtė, Inga Vaškevičė, Reda Žiobakienė, Viktorija Žvirblė
Light Design: Martynas Kazimierėnas
Soundtrack: Raul Saaremets

Performance partner

Video by Vytautas Tinteris


Photo by Marius Žičius