On the streets of Vilnius, Dyke Into project by artist Ieva Kotryna Ski addresses the LGBTQ+ community

Young artist Ieva Kotryna Ski launched her new project Dyke Into on the streets of Vilnius, which she created together with photographer Janina Sabaliauskaitė. The two artists and their artistic practices share an interest in queer themes, and this latest project also addresses the LGBTQ+ community.

Artist I. K. Ski won the Audience Choice Award at the JCDecaux Award 2021 competition and was given the opportunity to show her work in a public space – the JCDecaux Lithuania out-of-home advertising network. According to the artist, Dyke Into is a variation of the word ‘dyke’. While researching for her previous work on sinkholes, she came across the geological term ‘dyke’ or ‘dike’. Until then, she had known only one meaning of the word. Although the slang word ‘dyke’ has its origins as a homophobic slur for lesbians, over time the term has been reappropriated to become a symbol of pride and empowerment, and is now widely used by community members.

“With the possibility to use JCDecaux’s out-of-home advertising, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to share my discovery and love for both geological and non-geological dykes. The word ‘dyke’ does not have a precise translation into Lithuanian. In geological terminology the word ‘daika’ can be found, but this term is rarely found in Lithuanian usage, maybe because there are almost no examples of this phenomenon in Lithuania, unlike non-geological dykes. The word derives from the Scottish ‘dyke’ or ‘dike’, meaning a wall or barrier of stones. In geology, dyke refers to bodies of intrusion rock, usually of magmatic origin. The rock formed underground is vertically interbedded with other existing rocks, distinguished by its colour and structure, and thus creating new landforms,” said I. K. Ski.

The artist recalls that while researching the links between geological and non-geological dykes, she came across Sabrina Imbler’s book Dyke (geology) (2020), which intertwines geological processes with the relationship of a queer couple. This also was one of the inspirations for the Dyke Into project. 

“I think this project is particularly relevant in the Lithuanian context, where LGBTQ+ people still face many social and legal challenges. The Seimas is dragging its heels over the Partnership Law, which affects people of different sexual orientations, but homosexual couples have become the main focus of both debate and hatred. Family Marches are organised, the law on the protection of minors against the negative effects of public information censors LGBTQ+ content... In this context, it seems even more important to ‘dyke into’ the public space,” said artist I. K. Ski.

The artist invited photographer Janina Sabaliauskaitė, whose work explores the history of feminism and LGBTQ+ visibility, to contribute to this project. Not only her perspective as a photographer but also her experience as an artist exploring the queer field was important to I. K. Ski. Thinking about the photographs, Janina recalled Hal Fischer’s project Gay Semiotics: A Photographic Study of Visual Coding Among Homosexual Men (1977). It was this project that inspired her to use the motifs of geological drawings and combine them with photographs of the girls.

“It is a joy to be visible, to create visibility and to represent the LGBTQ+ community by participating in other artists’ projects. We want to continue the Dyke Into series. It would be great if the project connected a wider circle of people, so we are inviting dykes over 40 to write to us and have their pictures taken, to create visibility and history together,” invites Sabaliauskaitė.

The authors of the Dyke Into project would like to thank all those who agreed to take photographs and contribute to the project: Aušrinė Smilgytė, Liveta Martinkutė, Aistė Griciūtė, Dovilė Lapinskaitė, Agnė Jokšė. Ieva Kotryna Ski would like to thank Ieva Kabašinskaitė, who photographed the geological dykes at Lemptégy volcano in France. This project was made possible with financial support from the European Union and a prize from JCDecaux Lithuania.

Dyke Into photographs by: Janina Sabaliauskaitė, Ieva Kabašinskaitė, Dovilė Lapinskaitė, Ieva Kotryna Ski; Drawings by: Ieva Kotryna Ski; Text design and preparation for print: Monika Janulevičiūtė

Photo by Eivydas Adomavičius

About the artists:

Ieva Kotryna Ski (b. 1994) is an artist working between Vilnius and Paris. She graduated from the École Universitaire de Recherche ArTeC, where she completed her Master’s degree in artistic research. Exploring the materiality of the digital image and its potential to mediate different emotions, Ieva Kotryna’s work often questions our relationship with our ever-changing environment. As a video artist, Ieva Kotryna also often contributes to other artists’ works, performances or plays. She recently had a solo exhibition at the queer space išgirsti and has also presented her work at Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Cité des Arts in Paris, Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, project space Editorial, National Drama Theatre, etc. In 2021, Ieva Kotryna Ski’s Smegduobė (Sinkhole) won the Audience Choice Award at the exhibition JCDecaux Award: Spaces.

Janina Sabaliauskaitė (b. 1991) is a photographer, independent curator and initiator of various projects, living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Her work explores the body, female sexuality, feminism and LGBTQ+ visibility, questions of identity, gender, eroticism, sex education and disability. Her work is intimate, imbued with communion and collaboration, openly and sensitively exploring the relationships of the queer feminist community, and the elemental aesthetics that lie within them. In her creative practice, she works with analogue photography, using photo documentation from her personal archive. Sabaliauskaitė’s photographic practice reflects close relationships, revealing intimate moments of joy, celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ community, and stimulating discussions on human rights in Lithuania and the United Kingdom. Since 2017, she has been actively involved in organising the feminist festival Sapfo Queer. Since 2020, together with Dovilė Lapinskaitė, she has been curating the ongoing project Lesbian Zine Portraits, and together with Laura Varžgalytė, she has been curating the LGBT+ art and current affairs magazine published by the queer festival Kreivės. In autumn 2022, the artist’s first exhibition, Sending Love, was opened in the UK at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art alongside a retrospective exhibition she curated on the work of photographer Rimaldas Vikšraitis. Sabaliauskaitė is currently working on a monograph on Rimaldas Vikšraitis (Kerber-Verlag) and is preparing for her first solo exhibition at the Lithuanian gallery Drifts.