Julija Rukanskaite: the narrative of the unknown

It's impressive how a single story can inspire such diversity through different mediums! Visual artists from around the world are taking part in WHISTLE project, in an attempt to present a multi-sensory experience never attempted before in the Greek visual art scene. And that's because we do not think of visual art as an experience that when viewed fades away, but as an excuse, a triggering event, a reason to produce an artistic conversation and a literal dialogue with everyone interested. This is the way we feel visual art should work.

In this article we meet visual artist, Julija Rukanskaite, from Lithuania.

Why did you decide to participate in Whistle Project?
I am interested in works that shift the paradigm of a one-dimensional narrative story. And Whistle is something I consider to be an example of this. Functioning much like an open-source platform for storytelling, these kind of projects are grounded in the sharing of ideas and artistic exchange.

What intrigued you?
Whistle intrigued me as an open-ended project that moves beyond a single story and therefore is open for interpretation. It is also very interesting how Whistle, being an artwork itself, becomes a platform. In this way it is quite close to my personal approach to art making, which extends as a mode of curating / platform making.

What was your workflow?
I started off by thinking about the representations of superstition in western mythology. I then explored the existing imagery both in museums and online archives, tried to find paradoxes and details that caught my eye. After that, I just experimented with different rearrangements of classical imagery and magazine cut-outs, that represent female characters who follow the superstitions in terms of being featured in canonic imagery.

What was your artistic style, any influences?
I have worked a bit with textiles before and what I took away from that was the ritualistic aspect. I believe this does also somehow translate into my choice of representation: using imagery that is already charged with cultural value. Furthermore, I am interested in arranging, sometimes , paradoxical and different imagery together and consequently creating a visual depiction that is, at the end, a "mashup" of fragments. Collage is something I stumbled upon quite spontaneously, but it fits my interest in the compositional and representational aspect and arranging different elements really well at this point in time.

Do you believe in superstitions?
The idea of superstition for me is a way of interpreting not only the "mystical", but rather, as some would call it, more mundane phenomena. Reflecting on superstition allows for an anthropological gaze, for a momentary wonder of some widely accepted phenomena. Another fascinating aspect when considering the idea of superstition is the fact that its power lays in collective storytelling, a fluid narrative of the unknown. Therefore I cannot say I believe in it but I would not state otherwise. 

What do you want people to see in your works?
I don’t aim to be taken too seriously: it is more or less a poster after all. And I like to think of my work as a playful disarrangement of otherwise very separate imagery. So what I would like people to notice is the coherence of such elements in my work.

Can you make a comment on the idea of collective storytelling?
Whistle encourages active participation in constructing a narrative through collective effort. It simultaneously promotes individual interpretation while also collaging pieces of subjective representation together, in order to create something new, something unpredictable at first. Therefore the project has a certain organic aspect to it, growing through the shared contributions.

Why should people support this project? 
People should consider supporting Whistle on the basis of encouraging collaboration and intellectual, artistic exchange. It is not only a new form of art-making, but also a platform with an educational element in it: rather than imposing a single story, Whistle demonstrates the inherent complexity of many narratives intertwining. Consequently the viewer is an active participant, an agent of their own interpretation, yet also in dialogue with others.

Why go to the exhibition?
I would like to imagine that the visitor could become similarly engaged into the storytelling when encountering the exhibition. As the exhibition will be presenting so many different interpretations, it is a possibility to propose a positive confusion, a certain puzzlement which encourages one to draw their own storyline between the dots that are the single submissions.

Tell us a few words about the work you submitted.
The work is created based on the mythological narrative that inspired the Whistle script. It depicts a mysterious figure in the background of a sculptural face, thus resonating with the superstitious element and antiquity that are significant for Whistle as a narrative. Thus the work I have submitted is a merging of a collage-oriented shift in my personal way of thinking and the aspects of Whistle I noted in the previous answers.

All the works created for WHISTLE project by Julija, will be available to the public during the transmedia exhibition.

Find Julija Rukanskaite on TUMBLR.