Still image from Songs from the Compost

Shot in the pine forests and sand dunes of the Curonian Spit, Lithuanian artist Eglė Budvytytė’s video installation, Songs from the Compost, is a hypnotic exploration of nonhuman forms of consciousness and different dimensions of symbiotic life: interdependence, surrender, death, and decay. The images gradually layer, alongside intimate lyrics of a song that channels the desires of an entity shapeshifting across different genders, voices, and beyond-human embodiments. Featuring a cast comprised of local youth and performer and choreographer Mami Kang, the film unfolds through a specially conceived song, choreography, and costumes. 

Horizontality in the choreography undoes the usual verticality of the human figure, unfurling her into the landscape. The performers’ bodies are sites of activity, though they’re often horizontal, pulled toward the earth and one another, moving through the forest, along the sand dunes and water.  

The song lyrics draw on the work and words of biologist Lynn Margulis, celebrating the role of bacteria in making life and the collaboration between the single-cell organisms possible, as well as concepts by the science-fiction author Octavia Butler, who employed tropes of symbiosis, mutation, and hybridity to challenge hierarchies and categorization. 


About the Artist

Based in Vilnius and Amsterdam, Eglė Budvytytė (b.1981) works at the intersection between visual and performing arts. She approaches movement and gesture as technologies for a possible subversion of normativity, gender and social roles, and the dominant narratives governing public spaces. Spanning song, poetry, video, and performance, her practice explores the persuasive power of collectivity, vulnerability, and the permeable relationships between bodies, audiences, and environments. Her work has been shown at Whitechapel Gallery, London (2022); Venice Biennale (2022); Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Latvia (2020); Renaissance Society, Chicago (2018); South London Gallery (2018); and 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014); among others. 



This exhibition has been made possible in part by the generous financial support of the Charles S. Ackerman Fund and the Emory University Office of Sustainability Initiatives. 

Public programs in conjunction with this exhibition have been organized in partnership with Emory CompFest 2024: Ecologies of Sound. 

Each year, Emory CompFest brings innovative national and international musicians to Emory, where they work with students and faculty and present their music in concert to the greater-Atlanta community. CompFest 2024: Ecologies of Sound presents a series of performances and other events that examine our sonic relationships to the more-than-human world and our planet’s dramatically shifting soundscape. 

This year’s program is a special collaboration organized jointly with Georgia Tech's School of Music. Guest artists include composer and sound artist Annea Lockwood and NYC-based piano and percussion quartet Yarn/Wire, and the programming includes world premieres by Emory faculty composer Katherine Young and GA Tech graduate composer Lauren McCall.