Katalog k výstavě Interconnection

Page 1

Interconnection: On Bodies of Water Swimming Pool, Sofia 28. 7. – 4. 8. 2019 Artists: Catherine Biocca, Valko Chobanov, Nona Inescu, Maria Nalbantova, Jakub Nepraš, Petr Nikl, Tabita Rezaire, Karolína Rossi, Pavel Sterec, Johana Střížková Concept: Tereza Jindrová Curators: Veronika Čechová and Tereza Jindrová Production: Barbora Ciprová and Jakub Lerch The world we live in is changing. Scientific findings about the global warming of Earth’s climate, collected for dozens of years, are now joined by our immediate experience with unprecedented weather fluctuations here in Europe, which are no longer the subject of traditional polite conversations, rather becoming a disturbing topic for society-wide discussion. We fear extremes like torrential rain, floods, heat waves and drought. Water, the key factor for the existence of life on Earth, plays a crucial role in all these questions. However, the transformations of global systems consist not only in the now undeniable global warming (which is currently advancing at critical speed) but are fundamentally related to the rapid decrease in biodiversity (i.e. the massive disappearance of species) and unprecedented chemical-physical processes contributing to the overall pollution of ecosystems. All these interrelated processes are strongly stimulated by human activities and the current development is provably heading to a collapse that is most likely to endanger the very existence of human civilization. While the Interconnection: Bodies of Water exhibition is loosely based on the knowledge of these facts, it does not aim to deepen environmental anxiety and grief, nor does it strive to preachingly wag a warning finger or immediately document the manifestations of the environmental crisis we are facing today. Our approach is rather subtle, loosely drawing on the ideas of ecofeminism and hydrofeminism, as currently developed by Astrida Neimanis, Australian theorist and researcher at Sydney Environment Institute, and author of the book Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (2017). The main axis of the exhibition is the idea of

interconnectedness, with water serving as a metaphor for this interconnection. As Neimanis reminds us: water, which constitutes approximately 80% of our body, its proportion being even higher in a number of animal and plant species, links us to all organic and inorganic things on this planet in a constant cycle, going in and out, blurring boundaries. As if every living species, every cell was an island in an endless sea which inevitably connects us all. While this connection is factual-material, it also generates a basis for a specific notion of subjectivity. Neimanis, whose thinking falls within the broader current of today‘s posthumanism, accentuates literal fluidity, the fluidity of the individual. Flowing – into me, in me, through me – means becoming. From this holistic perspective, we are never separate from each other. As John Donne poetically put it: “No man is an island (…) Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” However, in the concept of hydrofeminism, there is a mutual connection not only between people but also between other “bodies of water” including other organisms, rivers as well as global circulation systems. As Neimanis observes, while the total quantity of water on the planet is essentially constant, what changes is its distribution and quality; along with the quality of life. Water as such may still be here for thousands or millions of years. However, how long will our bodies be among the bodies of water?

flows and exchanges between individual “nodal points” embodied by stones. Their configuration may remind of the schemes of chemical or molecular systems. Each stone represents a certain transformer recreating symbolical values and sending them to its neighbor in modified form. In the front lucite layer of the relief, transitory impulses circulate among the stones, having no lasting value for the community. The rear layer, on the other hand, shows more meaningful relationships reflecting the vitality and potential for the further development and life of the system. The stones on the meadow pass the baton, shouting each other down like crickets in the grass or birds in the treetops. Universal interconnection is literally illustrated by Valko Chobanov’s painting A Beautiful View (2018), though through completely different aesthetic means. Rendered in cartoon style, the joyful natural scene translates the message of the exhibition into a language comprehensible even to a child in a disarming manner. A little girl and her colorful friend are not alone at the lake – upon a closer look, we can see more beings – the trees and the stones, even the sandy beach and the sky have a life of their own. It is a playful depiction of the animistic belief that both living and non-living entities, or even places, have a soul.

Pavel Sterec’s video essay Vital Syndicates (2016) created in collaboration with Tereza Stöckelová takes us to the world of medicine and Through visually outstanding and biology through the speeches of several yet very distinct artworks, the scientists. Discussions on parasites Interconnection exhibition focuses on demonstrate the substantially collective the motif of water as a condition of life, nature of life. Our bodies are inhabited, on the motif of the circulation, flow and or rather co-created, by millions of merging of life forms, and figuratively other organisms and the majority of on the search for an extra-human genetic material which can be identified perspective which sees the human as on the surface and inside “our” bodies a part of life rather than the highest life actually belongs to someone else. form in our ecosystem. However, as a matter of fact, we cannot live without these “others”. … From a rather different perspective, we get back to hydrofeminism’s concept The technologically sophisticated of the merging of various entities and precisely rendered multimedia whose individual identity is always installations by Jakub Nepraš represent in a multiway relation with its complex universes whose richness surroundings; in a certain sense, makes it almost impossible to be fully the duality of me – my surroundings grasped by the viewers. Thus, they no longer plays a role. are an impressive metaphor of the complexity and interconnectedness of Johana Střížková’s installation Colony our own environment where separating SP03 (2018/2019) can be seen as nature and culture no longer makes a counterpart of Sterec’s video. In sense. The video sculpture entitled a three-hundred-liter aquarium, we Meadow (2012) depicts the abstracted can observe the symbiotic culture


In her interdisciplinary work, often including natural elements like stones and corals, Nona Inescu explores the interaction between humans and other animal and plant species with which we share our living space. In her installations and photographs capturing the contact of the human body or man-made artificial materials with inanimate objects of natural origin, non-human bodies, we can feel the tension between the organic and the inorganic. Her work raises the disturbing question of what is really alive among the depicted objects and what was severed from our shared natural substance. Through the installation arrangement reminiscent of a display of luxury commodities such as jewelry or a tasteful showroom of exclusive nutritional supplements promising eternal youth, the artist directs the viewers‘ attention to the petrified coral from the Miocene epoch when the planet was still unaware of the danger it would face one day due to one of the animal species which was yet to evolve. The view of this object, an animal, a plant and a stone in one which is dozens of millions of years old, gives but a faint memory of the time when human existence as we know it today – unlike many other organisms we now tend to see as subordinate to us – was not a thing at all. The abstract, dreamy watercolors of Karolína Rossí seem to literally embody the water element in its variability and multiformity. The splotches and blurred outlines of organic shapes, splattered around the entire gallery space, remind of water surfaces, water animals or even cells and primordial life forms with their changing shades of blue, green and grey. Thus, the metaphor of a drop of water and the living organism literally gains visible outlines here. Despite being depicted in static two-dimensional paintings, water retains its liquidity in Rossí’s paper collages. What would a fish song sound like if these silent animals could express themselves through singing, and what would they sing about? Catherine Biocca‘s anthropomorphic installation Marine IV (2019), where a fish is not only singing but also simulating the gallery visitors admiring the displayed artworks, brings an unexpected connotation in relation to the real visitors. The cute fish voice sings about essentially human experiences that cannot be experienced by fish – cheerful conversations and beautiful beach walks, addressing the present visitors by conversation questions as its equal. The notion of togetherness and interspecies equality, crucial for hydrofeminism, is unexpectedly and amusingly put into practice, and it is upon the viewers to realize how they feel in this newly established relationship. The fragile installations of Maria Nalbantova, continuing her solo exhibition Weather Forecast (2018), are a lyrical stylization of the natural processes that transcend us. They are “bodies of water” on a macroscopic scale: hydrogeological processes and manifestations of weather and climate. The assemblage entitled Disaster depicts the events leading to flash floods, experienced by the artist

herself, in a nutshell. The blurred drawing from the artist’s sketchbook – a product of invention and chance at the same time – became a by-product of the floods. The object Red Rain alludes to “blood rain”, a phenomenon reappearing in India, Sri Lanka and South Europe among others. The red hue of the rain is probably caused by the spores of a certain type of algae surviving in the air; however, there were also hypotheses claiming that the phenomenon is of extraterrestrial origin, proving the existence of life in the universe. In any case, water – in the form of rain – is again seen as a mediator between different spheres. Tabita Rezaire’s video Deep Down Tidal (2017) approaches flows and interconnection from yet another angle. In her proclamative essay, the artist, who has dealt with postcolonial criticism and the rehabilitation of non-western knowledge and spirituality on a long-term basis, addresses the oppressive nature of the Internet whose transmission is materialized in a network of submarine cables repeating the trajectories of colonial powers, especially the slave trade. Thus, the water environment plays the role of a mediator here as well. However, in the second part of the video, the artist thematizes water as a vital element whose distribution is (similarly to data and information) unequal, telling of global social differences. Thus, she brings us to a stance which is also present in hydrofeminism: water, like other common possessions, needs to be shared and taken care of. She brings us back from the all-embracing planetary interconnection to particular environmental, economic and primarily political questions. The ambiguous figure of the Ferryman (1996/2019) with human and animal attributes, sitting in a motionless kayak on the non-existent surface of an empty pool, combines a number of moments accentuated individually in the other works of the exhibition Interconnection. The poetic and playful language of Petr Nikl gave rise to a sculpture that may make us smile at first glance, however, after longer observation, it may easily make a depressing impression instead. Its face, as if hidden behind an expressionless mask, may stir a sense of empathy on the one hand – when we become fully aware of its loneliness, both literal as it is situated outside the inner gallery space, and figural due to the obvious non-belonging of this being which has no place either in the human or in the animal world. However, at the same time, the Ferryman can also be seen as a sinister harbinger about to take us to the future. What will it be like with respect to the advancing depletion and contamination of water? So far, the answer to this question still lies at least partially in our hands. The Interconnection: On Bodies of Water exhibition is the second output of the long-term project Islands: Possibilities of Togetherness launched in 2019 by Jindřich Chalupecký Society, a platform for Czech art in international context. Bringing together a number of partner organizations from various countries, the project addresses the coexistence and mutual relations and ties between individuals and collectives on a general level. The Interconnection exhibition at the Swimming Pool gallery wants to bring attention to the level of coexistence and collectivity that is broader than the human one. Therefore, the exhibition takes a planetary, interspecies perspective which will run through the entire Islands project in themes like sustainability, ecology, utopia vs. dystopia, ethics, communication and symbiosis.

Ursula Bieman: Subatlantic, HD video, 2015

of vinegar bacteria and several types of yeast known as kombucha. It lives off the solution of sweet tea and becomes gradually fermented, producing a characteristic beverage popular in holistic medicine among others. The exhibition visitors can help themselves to the drink. While the main part of the kombucha colony can be seen growing on the surface, it permeates the whole solution like invisible mycelium. When drinking kombucha, we literally absorb the probiotic culture which then takes effect on our digestive system.


Interconnection, installation view. Petr Nikl, Ferryman, kayak, mannequin, fencing mask, neoprene, 1996/2019.


Jakub NepraĹĄ, Meadow, video sculpture with sound, plexiglass, natural stone, 2012.

Interconnection, installation view. Petr Nikl, Ferryman, kayak, mannequin, fencing mask, neoprene, 1996/2019.


Interconnection, installation view. From left: Maria Nalbantova, Red Rain, threads, styrofoam, plaster, 2018, Karolína Rossí, Untitled, edition of 9 pieces of watercolor on paper, collage, 2018, Jakub Nepraš, Meadow, video sculpture with sound plexiglass, natural stone, 2012, Nona Inescu, Brittle Bones IV, Heliastrea defrancei coral, glazed ceramics, metal stand, 2019.


Interconnection, installation view. Nona Inescu, Brittle Bones IV, metal stand, Heliastrea, defrancei coral, glazed ceramics, metal stand, 2019, KarolĂ­na RossĂ­, Untitled, edition of 9 pieces watercolor on paper, collage, 2018

Interconnection, installation view. Nona Inescu, Brittle Bones IV, metal stand, Heliastrea, defrancei coral, glazed ceramics, metal stand, 2019, Maria Nalbantova, Red Rain, threads, styrofoam, plaster, 2018.


KarolĂ­na RossĂ­, Untitled, edition of 9 pieces of watercolor on paper, collage, 2018.


Interconnection, installation view. From left: Maria Nalbantova, Red Rain, threads, styrofoam, plaster, 2018, KarolĂ­na RossĂ­, Untitled, edition of 9 pieces watercolor on paper, collage, 2018, Nona Inescu, Brittle Bones IV, metal stand, Heliastrea, defrancei coral, glazed ceramics, metal stand, 2019.


Interconnection, installation view. From left: Valko Chobanov A beautiful view, painting, acryl on wood, 2017, Maria Nalbantova, Disaster, Site-specific installation, various materials (paper, mirror-foil, acrylic, glass), 2018/2019.


We ourselves are sea, sands, corals, seaweeds, beaches, tides, swimmers, children, waves, seas and mothers.1 Tereza Jindrová

A stretch of land teeming with life: the delta of the Veleka River overgrown with luxuriant vegetation, separated by a sand ridge from the coast washed by the Black Sea. The impenetrable reed thicket lined the riverbed, spilling over the grassy plain in scattered little islands irrigated by several seemingly stagnant pools. The foot of the sand dune, sloping down to the beach on the other side, was overgrown with endemic species of xerophytic creeping plants and thistles. In the middle of the plain, on the edge of a small grove, there was a lookout from which the lively activity of countless birds could be observed. A flock of goats were hiding from the heat among the trees, only leaving to graze, disappearing from sight behind the foot of the hill. On a stone in the middle of the pool, two turtles were basking in the afternoon sun; one was brown, the other black and long-nosed. As dusk fell, choirs of courting frogs started to fill the landscape with their song with immense intensity. A toddler sitting in the sand was playing with a giant spotted shell, while her mother with the hair of a water nymph was swimming against the current of the river to be carried back to its estuary. There, the brown-green, cool water of the stream met with the frothed sea surf, with their wrestling countermovement constantly changing the shape of the beach. Such was the place where we could rest at least for a little while – the bay at the Sinemorec village in the south of Bulgaria.

It is here, in the borderzones of what is comfortable, of what is perhaps even livable, that we can open to alterity – to other bodies, other ways of being and acting in the

Interconnection, installation view. From left: Catherine Biocca, Marine IV, painting, oil on canvas, video, 9 minutes, 2019, Karolína Rossí, Untitled, edition of 9 pieces of watercolor on paper, collage, 2018.

world – in the simultaneous recognition that this alterity also flows through us.2

In many respects, this place resonated with what was on our mind when working on the exhibition Interconnection: On Bodies of Water. The river delta, the intertidal zone, the wetlands, the flood zones of watercourses – all those environments can be termed as ecotones. They are the places of one type of ecosystem transitioning into another, of their merging. The pioneer of the ideas of hydrofeminism, Australian theorist Astrida Neimanis, points out the liveliness, fertility, creativity and changeability of these zones. An ecotone is a zone of “becoming, assembling, multiplying; of diverging, differentiating, relinquishing. Something happens. […] An ecotone has a material fecundity that rejects an ontological separation between “thing” and “transition,” between “body” and “vector.” In Gilles Deleuze’s terms, this eventfull zone could be called “inorganic life.” But saturated with lively water, inorganic life is organic, too. The virtual is also actual. These and other pairs begin to creep.” (Neimanis 2012: 107-8) Thus, the ecotone fits into the membrane logic and amniotic relation: “In an amniotic relation, the membrane that separates the gestational body from the proliferating body of repetition and difference is not a divisive barrier, but rather an interval of passage: the amnion is solid enough to differentiate, but permeable enough to facilitate exchange. […] The passage from body of water to body of water is never merely metaphoric, but rather radically material.” (Neimanis 2009: 163-4) What is in the core of 1

Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément.

2

Neimanis 2012: 111.


Neimanis’ hydrofeminism is the idea of literal, material interconnectedness within the planetary whole structured by individual bodies of water: people, animals, plants, fungi and bacteria, as well as by meteorological and geophysical bodies of water, such as watercourses, oceans, lakes etc., including technological ones built by man. In Neimanis’ concept, the relations between these entities are defined by circulation, flowing, permeability, exchange; an implicit and explicit metamorphosis of one state of existence into another, with water being the animating element. We are able to understand and believe this holistic perspective of the world due to its materialist basis, however, how to apply it to our own existence in a strong sense of the word? If we, too, are bodies of water, we are subject to the same onto-logic; which, however, contradicts our traditional notion of “self” that, among other things, gives us a sense of certain superiority over the rest of existence. “To think embodiment as watery belies the understanding of bodies that we have inherited from the dominant Western metaphysical tradition. As watery, we experience ourselves less as isolated entities, and more as oceanic eddies: I am a singular, dynamic whorl dissolving in a complex, fluid circulation. The space between our selves and our others is at once as distant as the primeval sea, yet also closer than our own skin – the traces of those same oceanic beginnings still cycling through us, pausing as this bodily thing we call “mine.” Our comfortable categories of thought begin to erode. Water entangles our bodies in relations of gift, debt, theft, complicity, differentiation, relation.” (Neimanis 2012: 96) The questions raised by such logic are not easy to answer: “ “The onto-logic of amniotics can offer new grounds for thinking about how vastly different bodies of water can sustain and nurture one another. […] What sort of social and political responses to other watery bodies are demanded of us? How might we give thanks to our gestational habitats at the same time as we nurture those same habitats within us? How can we cultivate the further proliferation of (watery) life? How might we account for our differences while demanding our interconnection? What are our specific responsibilities as human bodies of water?” (Neimanis 2009: 166)

can gain from the “unit” we call our body. The biology and medicine of today understand that we could not exist without these “others.” Where do I end and where do they begin? This question may be pointless, as I have always essentially been we.

What would biological science be if symbiosis were seen as the rule, not the exception? What scientific questions would become paramount and how might this change our view of life if intimate cooperation between species were a fundamental feature of evolution? What could “individual selection” mean if all organisms were chimeric, and there were no real monogenetic individuals?3

Taking a step back from contemporary philosophy and adopting the perspective of contemporary biology, we can find a number of points of contact. In their comprehensive article from 2012 entitled A Symbiotic View of Life: We Have Never Been Individuals, Scott F. Gilbert, Jan Sapp and Alfred I. Tauber use a whole range of fascinating examples to capture the transformation of the scientific notion of biological individuality (from the perspective of genetics, development, physiology, psychology, immunology etc.), with respect to the everexpanding “evidence of all-pervading symbiosis“: “In the early modern period, mirroring the appearance of the independent citizen, the notion of the autonomous individual agent framed a biology that was organized around the study of particulate, interacting, living entities. […] The Darwinian view of life regarded aggregates of individuals of common ancestry as identifiable units in competition with one another. With the understanding that plants and animals are comprised of living “cells,” a new orientation quickly developed concerning the integration of physiological processes and anatomic units, but still these cells were understood as agents in constructing and sustaining a singular organism that would in turn maintain its autonomy and integrity. Only with the emergence of ecology in the second half of the 19th century did organic systems – comprised of individuals in cooperative and competitive relationships – complement the individual-based conceptions of the life sciences. I am we […] New technologies such as polymerase chain reaction, high-throughput RNA analysis, In the dusky attic room of the Swimming Pool and next generation sequencing continue to gallery, a giant aquarium filled with fermenting dramatically transform our conceptions of the tea radiates a brown-orange light. A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast known as kombucha planet’s biosphere. They have not only revealed a microbial world of much deeper diversity than is growing on its surface. The part of this previously imagined, but also a world of complex organism visible to the eye, which is sometimes and intermingled relationships – not only among wrongly called fungus, is merely a concentrated materialization of the countless micro-organisms microbes, but also between microscopic and present throughout the solution. If we took a part macroscopic life. […] The discovery of symbiosis throughout the animal kingdom is fundamentally of the fluid and created the right conditions, the transforming the classical conception of an typical grey-pink skin-like structure would grow insular individuality into one in which interactive on its surface again. In this way, we can grow relationships among species blur the boundaries kombucha constantly and produce a fermented of the organism and obscure the notion of beverage. The visitors can taste it on the spot, essential identity. Symbiosis is becoming a core with millions of living organisms entering their principle of contemporary biology. […] These body with each sip. What happens then? What findings lead us into directions that transcend do they cause in the body? the self/nonself, subject/object dichotomies The idea of an invasion of foreign intruders can that have characterized Western thought.” be scary to many of us. However, as we learn in (Gilbert et al.: 326) Pavel Sterec’s video essay Vital Syndicates right next to the kombucha aquarium, our bodies, both Thus, there is increasing consensus between the natural sciences and philosophy in their need on the inside and on the outside, are inhabited to overcome the established paradigms and by billions of “alien” organisms which constitute about 80% of the entire genetic information we 3 Gilbert et al.: 327.

prerequisites on which the Western world was built. However, it is not only the rethinking of the “myth of individualism” driven by patriarchal phallogocentrism that is in question. From the planetary perspective, we should also consider rejecting the “Enlightenment figures of coherent and masterful subjectivity” (as Donna Haraway put it) in the name of post-anthropocentrism. Here, however, is where potentially contradictory tendencies arise: to admit interconnectedness and interdependence, i.e. that which we have in common, while leaving space for difference and ascribing a varying degree of responsibility for the current state of the world to various groups of people.

actual erasure, at least the blurring of the distinction between the human and other species when it comes to profiting from them. Seeds, plants, animals and bacteria fit into this logic of insatiable consumption alongside various specimens of humanity. […] The global economy is post-anthropocentric in that it ultimately unifies all species under the imperative of the market and its excesses threaten the sustainability of our planet as a whole. A negative sort of cosmopolitan interconnection is therefore established through a pan-human bond of vulnerability.” (Braidotti: 59-63)

Braidotti herself calls for overcoming panhumanism which, driven by the notion of superiority, proposes universal values; however, Today, we are witnessing the sixth mass extinction of species which will result (or as a consequence, these become primarily rather has already resulted) in a massive loss a tool of exclusion. “The dialectics of otherness of biodiversity and of the total gene pool on is the inner engine of humanist Man’s power, who assigns difference on a hierarchical scale Earth. This process, whose key cause lies in the disruption and loss of habitat of animal and plant as a tool of governance. All other modes of species due to human activity, is an essential embodiment are cast out of the subject position threat to our survival as well. Without the genetic and they include anthropomorphic others: nondiversity of the total biomass, we will face white, non-masculine, non-normal, non-young, dramatic difficulties. Thus, interconnectedness nonhealthy, disabled, malformed or enhanced peoples. They also cover more ontological and diversity can be seen as two key principles which we should keep in mind in the interest of categorical divides between Man and zoomorphic, organic or earth others. All these all of us. ‘others’ are rendered as pejoration, pathologized and cast out of normality, on the side of anomaly, deviance, monstrosity and bestiality. This process is inherently anthropocentric, gendered and racialized in that it upholds aesthetic Who are “we” and moral ideals based on white, masculine, heterosexual European civilization. […] Once While ‘we’ might be more like other animals than the centrality of anthropos is challenged, our Enlightenment forefathers would like us to a number of boundaries between ‘Man’ and think; while ‘we’ might be part of, rather than his others go tumbling down, in a cascade separate from, the mud at our feet and the rain effect that opens up unexpected perspectives. whipping our faces; and while ‘we’ might have Thus, if the crisis of Humanism inaugurates become a geological force capable of affecting the posthuman by empowering the sexualized all life on this planet in the Anthropocene, in the and racialized human ‘others’ to emancipate words of Adrienne Rich, ‘the problem was we did themselves from the dialectics of master–slave not know whom we meant when we said we.’4 relations, the crisis of anthropos relinquishes the demonic forces of the naturalized others. Animals, insects, plants and the environment, in fact the planet and the cosmos as a whole, are called into play. […] The posthuman in the sense of post-anthropocentrism displaces the Let us briefly revisit the Interconnection dialectical scheme of opposition, replacing well exhibition. Valko Chobanov’s colorful painting established dualisms with the recognition of deep A Beautiful View employs a naivist condensation zoe-egalitarianism between humans and animals. to present the notion of an essentially entangled The vitality of their bond is based on sharing this world including people, animals, plants as well planet, territory or environment on terms that are as non-living entities like water, earth, and air. no longer so clearly hierarchical, nor self-evident. Tabita Rezaire’s video Deep Down Tidal, on the This vital interconnection posits a qualitative shift other hand, articulates the persisting inequalities of the relationship away from species-ism and in today’s “interconnected” human world from towards an ethical appreciation of what bodies a post-colonial perspective, reminding us that (human, animal, others) can do.” (Braidotti: 66, building the awareness of (post-anthropocentric) 68, 71-2) However, the awareness of this vital communality will always necessarily have its bond does not divest us of responsibility as social, political and economic implications. As a species, and we can ask together with Astrida Italian-Australian philosopher Rosi Braidotti Neimanis: “Once we recognize that we are not describes in her seminal book The Posthuman hermetically sealed in our diver’s suits of human (2013), the path to post-anthropocentrism can skin, what do we do with this recognition? What have an emancipatory as well as affirmative do we owe, and how do we pay?” (Neimanis 2012: character towards the prevailing power structures 107) and systems. Among other things, the author articulates how one “stream” of the current path to post-anthropocentrism is affected by the logic of late capitalism which commodifies and politicizes life itself while linking humans and other life forms by a negative bond: “In Living in ecotone substance, advanced capitalism both invests and profits from the scientific and economic Eco: home. Tone: tension. We must learn to be at control and the commodification of all that lives. home in the quivering tension of the in between. This context produces a paradoxical and rather opportunistic form of post-anthropocentrism No other home is available. In-between nature on the part of market forces which happily and culture, in-between biology and trade on Life itself. […] The political economy of bio-genetic capitalism induces, if not the philosophy, in-between the human and everything we ram ourselves up against, 4 Neimanis 2017: 27.


everything we

This sort of rewriting of history resembles somewhat the rewriting of post-colonial history. desperately shield ourselves from, everything we Only this time, it is not a matter of admitting throw ourselves into, wrecked and recklessly, formerly excluded groups of human populations to the theatre of significance, it means to radically watching, amazed, as our skins become thinner.5 decentre the human figure altogether. It is difficult to imagine such a place and yet this is what is at stake now. What we can already say is that a common future that we share with everything How do we know, what do we owe and how to else would be equally rooted in cultural and natural pay? Astrida Neimanis’ onto-logic warns us from narratives; the collections of this common world, the danger of the pursuit of instrumentalized our heritage, would necessarily include at once knowledge: “In acknowledging our commonality, cultural and natural histories. Perhaps from there, we risk succumbing to the idea that our we can envision a less divided future that can embodied debts are fully knowable. Surely, if we harbour a post-human way of being in the world.” are all bodies of water then your water is also, somehow, mine. So the logic would go: We are all As Rosi Braidotti writes, “the point about part of the same big happy family tree, and we posthuman relations, however, is to see the all know each others’ secrets. Difference here is interrelation human/animal as constitutive of familiarized. It would become a problem that is the identity of each. It is a transformative or ‘solvable’, something that can be assimilated. If symbiotic relation that hybridizes and alters the the unknown creeps in at all, we get the feeling ‘nature’ of each one and foregrounds the middle that our problem, if we have one, is simply lack grounds of their interaction. This is the ‘milieu’ of information: we just don’t know enough, or of the human/non-human continuum and it enough yet. In other words, one could suggest needs to be explored as an open experiment. that the only thing at stake here is the difference […] Intensive spaces of becoming have to be between ontological assertion (we are all opened and, more importantly, to be kept open.” connected…) and epistemological limit (…even (Braidotti: 79–80) Art and its institutions can if we can’t humanly grasp, or know, the depth of and should be places of such an open experiment those connections). But this is a false solution. in the transformation of subjectivity. It still holds out hope for mastery: if only we could just know more deeply, more fully, more masterfully … the problem would go away. All of the watery world would be at our fingertips – held tightly, securely, in our waterproof bags.” (Neimanis 2017: 156) What are we to do then? References Perhaps (albeit with a little hyperbole and Biemann, Ursula. 2015. Late Subatlantic. naivety) it is here where we can turn to art. Art, Science Poetry in Times of Global Warming, too, is – like the ecotone – a zone of creativity, in: Internationale, 12 Nov 2015, https://www. potentiality, and changeability. Art, too, finds itself in between, it is a field of the unknown, the internationaleonline.org/research/politics_of_ life_and_death/45_late_subatlantic_science_ unnamable; a place where our skin can become poetry_in_times_of_global_warming. thinner.

As Swiss artist Ursula Biemann writes in her text about her film Subatlantic (which was screened at the opening of the Interconnection exhibition as well): “Solution-oriented thinking that seeks technical answers to human-caused problems is driving the economy these days, it simply is the dominant model for human-earth relationships now. Artists, through small but quickly multiplying gestures, insert a whole range of other motivations and methodologies into the processes that are forcefully shaping the conditions on Earth. In the light of the powerful means and effects afforded by the industry, these efforts may seem irrelevantly small, but they are profoundly meaningful because such artistic research and gestures expose operative paradigms and, more importantly, consider models of thinking and acting with the material world that present alternatives to the economy and technology driven prescriptions. How will this affect the collecting and exhibiting practices of museums? For a future where human-nonhuman relations are less violent, less destructive, the past will have to be reassembled. 5

Neimanis 2012: 108.

Braidotti, Rosi. 2013. The Posthuman, Politu Press, 2013. Gilbert, F. Scott, et al. 2012. A Symbiotic View of Life: We Have Never Been Individuals, in: The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 87, No. 4 (December 2012), pp. 325-341. Neimanis, Astrida. 2009. Bodies of Water, Human Rights and the Hydrocommons, in: Topia, Vol. 21, Spring 2009, pp. 161-182. Neimanis, Astrida. 2012. Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water, in: Henriete Dunkel et al.: Undutiful Daughters, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp. 85-99. Neimanis, Astrida. 2017. Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology, Bloomsbury, 2017.

Valko Chobanov, A Beautiful View, painting, acryl on wood, 2017.

To live in an epoch shaped by such anthropogenic transformations is to be confronted with risks at the scale of the planet. Paradoxically, we remain so little mobilized in part because of our failures to address uncertainties and to represent the scales of a story that is difficult both to tell and to hear. The current environmental condition seems to involve a crisis of the imagination, the amendment of which might depend on finding other forms and forums of ecopolitical engagement. Art should fight against this crisis of imagination.


Tabita Rezaire, Deep Down Tidal, video, 19 minutes, 2017.

Interconnection, installation view. From left: Maria Nalbantova, Red Rain, threads, styrofoam, plaster, 2018, KarolĂ­na RossĂ­, Untitled, edition of 9 pieces of watercolor on paper, collage, 2018, Maria Nalbantova, Disaster, site-specific installation, various materials (paper, mirror-foil, acrylic, glass), 2018/2019.


Interconnection, installation view. Catherine Biocca, Marine IV, painting, oil on canvas, video, 9 minutes, 2019.


Interconnection, installation view. From left: Pavel Sterec, Vital Syndicates, video, 30 minutes, 2016, Johana Střížková, Colony SP03, glass aquarium, metal stand, kombucha, 2019.


Johana Střížková, Colony SP03, glass aquarium, metal stand, kombucha, 2019, detail.

Johana Střížková, Colony SP03, glass aquarium, metal stand, kombucha, 2019.


Carolina Caycedo & Entre Aguas: Huila’s Bleeding, HD Video, 2015

Screening On Bodies of Water, Czech Centre Sofia, 28.6. 2019, with videos by Ursula Biemann, Carolina Caycedo, Arjuna Neumann & Denise Ferreira da Silva.


Ursula Bieman: Subatlantic, HD video, 2015


Arjuna Neuman & Denise Ferreira da Silva: 4 Waters – Deep Implicancy, HD video, 2018


1 Utopian Family  How do the key works of feminist sci-fi imagine alternative visions of society and family in particular? They turn towards visions of solidary companionship, based on community relations, sharing, and sustainability. This chapter will investigate "family" models drawn by utopian literature and attempt to compare them with the actual historical and political development of similar ideas.

Art in General, New York City Spring 2020

2 Parents’ Goals  How do the attitudes in parenting and raising children differ through different cultures? The title of this chapter refers to a variation of demands on children, according to what a particular society needs for its prosperity and sustainability. The impact is observed from both anthropological and psychological perspective.

Valko Chobanov (*1991) graduated from the scenography programme of the Academy of Music, Theatre and Dance Arts in Plovdiv. Currently, he is enrolled in the master’s degree programme in the Department of Digital Arts at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. His work spans painting, illustration, performance, new media and digital arts. He has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Bulgaria and in Europe.

3 Absence in Family  How does an absence in different forms affects the family? This chapter refers to the perspective of family with “non-nuclear” structure and thus alternative forms in terms of relations and archetypal roles in family structure. The notion of absence will be depicted on both cultural and sociological backgrounds.

Curators: Barbora Ciprová, Veronika Čechová, Tereza Jindrová, Karina Kottová, Jakub Lerch

Catherine Biocca (*1984) graduated from the master’s programme under Georg Herold at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf and completed an additional two-year stay at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. Her work is concerned with the possibility of generating a new reality with a critical reflection on violence and brutality while utilising a wide range of media and materials. In 2015, she participated in the Ural Biennial and won the 2015 Strabag Art Award.

Nona Inescu (*1991), based in Bucharest, Romania, completed her studies in 2016 at the National University of Arts in Bucharest at the Photography and Video Department, after studying at the Chelsea College of Art & Design in London and at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In her interdisciplinary approach, which is concerned with the redefinition of the subject in posthumanism, she combines a variety of media, including photographs, objects, installations and video, with a distinctive interest in natural materials. Maria Nalbantova (*1990, Sofia) earned her master’s degree in illustration from the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. She has also studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Universidad de Granada in Spain as part of her Erasmus exchange. In her practice of bookmaking and alternative printmaking, she combines narrative, image and space. Since 2017, she teaches illustration at the National School of Fine Arts (Sofia) and is currently nominated for the 2019 BAZA Award for Contemporary Art.

4 Family and Gender  How does a “nuclear family” model influence and perpetuate the binary concept of gender? This chapter will focus on different examples of non-binary gender models around the world – present, past and fictional. In the specific context of drag culture and LGBTQ community, it will also investigate the model of “chosen family”.

5 Family Living  How does the architectural design of a house (in the broad sense of this term for a place to live) form the dynamics of the relationships of the people who inhabit it? The chapter on housing will present the results of research into the influence of architectural structures on family coexistence, based on examples of specific types of housing from different parts of the world.

Jakub Nepraš (*1981) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague at the studios of New Media of Michael Bielický and Veronika Bromová, and at the Sculpture Studio of Aleš Veselý. In his work, he is preoccupied with the acquisition of scientific and philosophical knowledge and with the concepts that relate to the positions of individual organisms in a larger structure of nature and society. Since 2006, he has been part of the Trafačka studio and actively contributes to Trafo Gallery in Prague. Petr Nikl (*1960) is a multidisciplinary artist who works in painting, performance, music and theatre to build a bridge between art fields. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 1987 and won Jindřich Chalupecký Award in 1995. His work is highly influenced by research on social matters. After exhibiting at Rudolfinum Gallery in Prague in 2000, he participated in the Czech exposition at the World Exposition in Aichi in 2005 and presented his exhibition Orbis Pictus at the Czech Centre in Paris in 2006. Tabita Rezaire (*1989) is based in Cayenne, French Guyana and after receiving the Bachelor of Economics degree in France, she got the Master of Research in Artist Moving Image degree at Central Saint Martins in London. She is a founding member of the artist group NTU, half of the duo Malaxa and the mother of the energy house SENEB. In her work, spirituality and technology intersect and aim towards

the possibility of connection, emancipation and the healing of the soul. Karolína Rossí (*1983) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague at the Studio of Graphic Arts of Vladimír Kokolia. She spent one semester of her studies at École supérieure d’art d’Aix-en-Provence in France. Working with painting and media such as watercolour collages which extend into the domain of spatial installations, she explores the possibilities of imagination and contingencies of making through introspection. Currently, she exhibits in Czech independent galleries. Pavel Sterec (*1985) has studied at several studios at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and received his PhD at the Studio of Photography at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. He was a finalist of Jindřich Chalupecký Award in 2015 and 2011. His conceptual installations are based on his interests in myth and ritual, experienced through objects that challenge the social and political status quo. He has exhibited mainly in Central and Eastern Europe and took part in a number of international residencies. Johana Střížková (*1984) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague at the studios of Miloš Šejn, Veronika Bromová and Jiří Příhoda. She attended the Cooper Union School of Art in New York for one semester. In 2013, she participated in the FONCA residency programme in Mexico City. She was a finalist of Jindřich Chalupecký Award in 2016. Currently, she exhibits primarily in Czech independent galleries and is recognised for the purity of her aesthetics and her concern for human embodiment and its surroundings.

The catalogue is published by Jindřich Chalupecký Society on the occasion of the exhibition Interconnection: On Bodies of Water at Swimming Pool. Texts Veronika Čechová and Tereza Jindrová Translation and Language Editor Tereza Chocholová Production Jakub Lerch Graphic Design Petr Bosák, Tereza Hejmová, Robert Jansa (20YY Designers) Photography Tomáš Souček Print Indigoprint The catalogue contains pictures from the exhibition Interconnection: On Bodies of Water and video stills from a collateral screening event which contained videos by Ursula Biemann, Carolina Caycedo and Arjuna Neumann & Denise Ferreira da Silva. ISBN 978-80-907561-3-7 © Jindřich Chalupecký Society www.sjch.cz www.swimmingpoolprojects.org The exhibition is kindly supported by the Ministry of Culture, Czech Republic, State Fund for Culture and Czech Centers. Special thanks to all artists, collaborators, volunteers, families and friends participating in Interconnection: On Bodies of Water.


1 Utopian Family  How do the key works of feminist sci-fi imagine alternative visions of society and family in particular? They turn towards visions of solidary companionship, based on community relations, sharing, and sustainability. This chapter will investigate "family" models drawn by utopian literature and attempt to compare them with the actual historical and political development of similar ideas.

Art in General, New York City Spring 2020

2 Parents’ Goals  How do the attitudes in parenting and raising children differ through different cultures? The title of this chapter refers to a variation of demands on children, according to what a particular society needs for its prosperity and sustainability. The impact is observed from both anthropological and psychological perspective.

3 Absence in Family  How does an absence in different forms affects the family? This chapter refers to the perspective of family with “non-nuclear” structure and thus alternative forms in terms of relations and archetypal roles in family structure. The notion of absence will be depicted on both cultural and sociological backgrounds.

Curators: Barbora Ciprová, Veronika Čechová, Tereza Jindrová, Karina Kottová, Jakub Lerch

4 Family and Gender  How does a “nuclear family” model influence and perpetuate the binary concept of gender? This chapter will focus on different examples of non-binary gender models around the world – present, past and fictional. In the specific context of drag culture and LGBTQ community, it will also investigate the model of “chosen family”.

5 Family Living  How does the architectural design of a house (in the broad sense of this term for a place to live) form the dynamics of the relationships of the people who inhabit it? The chapter on housing will present the results of research into the influence of architectural structures on family coexistence, based on examples of specific types of housing from different parts of the world.