Sweeping the Sea + Large Oak + Strange House II

“Emotional Landscapes” at ARKA Gallery, Vilnius. Curated by Šelda Puķīte. 21.10.2023 — 17.12.2023

Laura Põld & Lou Sheppard, Sweeping the Sea + Large Oak + Strange House (2023), 3 channel video and installation commissioned for the exhibition “Art in the Age of the Anthropocene”.

Lyrics: folk poetry collected by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald (1803–1882) from Viisu Village / Roosna-Alliku Manor, Järva County
Melody: folk song collected from Järva-Jaani Parish, Estonia

Choral arrangement: Sander Saarmets
Runosong research: Janika Oras, Andreas Kalkun, Taive Lõhmus (Estonian Literary Museum)

Performers: Sigrid Savi, Juss Heinsalu
Choral performance: Vikerlased
Conductor: Keio Soomelt

Camera: Albert Kerstna

Filmed at Aru-Lõuna Quarry, Lääne-Viru County, Estonia.


“This installation explores the many lives of quarries, the pits of earth that remain after the extraction of stone and minerals. Many timelines converge in the quarry: deep geological time, the ancient million-year-old histories of the formation of stone; the more modern history of mining, extraction, and wealth production; the recent abandonment of the quarries; and the new possible futures that take root as nature reasserts itself. The materials of the quarry also embed lives that are just as varied, from the ancient creatures whose fossils are literally embedded in stone, to the later ecologies displaced and disfigured by extraction, and the human lives responsible for that labor of displacement.

Põld and Sheppard  intertwine these timelines in their recreation of a quarry from recycled clay plaster. Their quarry transforms the traditional „pit“ instead into an amphitheatre, where multiple stories—and experiences—can be told. Polyphonic melodies, inspired by the Estonian folk song „Sweeping the Sea, Large Oak, Strange House“, resound through the cavernous rocks, as the sonorous voices of miners fill those spaces emptied by their labor. As they sing distinctive call-and-response melodies of Estonian runic singing, the installation echoes a similar call-and-response between the triangular relation of the video displays. The artists beckon viewers into the future of the abandoned mine, to contemplate what abundance the quarry might nourish, what communities might form and take shape in the interstices, when these stony landscapes no longer maintain value within a cycle of wealth production.” – Bart Pushaw


Photos by Laurynas Skeisgiela