August 11 – August 25, 2012
Frida Klingberg, Alida Müschen
Ulrike Gerhardt, Susanne Husse, Friederike Hamann
News about the Apocalypse #5
»The Great cormorant is disliked since it eats fish, and its excrement destroys the vegetation of the colonies. The wolf was close to extinction in Sweden but came back and is now protected by national and international laws, but for some people living in its territories their presence causes problems. The Crab louse isn’t dangerous for humans yet a bit inconvenient, but still, even if it is threatened in Sweden, no one seems to care for parasites.« Frida Klingberg, 2012
The exhibition »Hated Animals. News about the Apocalypse #5« makes an effort to elaborate on performativity in a post-humanistic way. The invited artists Frida Klingberg and Alida Mueschen question the categories of human and non-human, natural and cultural as well as the distinction of matter and discourse to explore »unexamined habits of mind« and to grant power to other forms of representation as the Professor of Philosophy and Feminist Studies Karen Barad describes it. The exhibition title and work series »Hated Animals« by Frida Klingberg entails dominant discourses about humans and non-humans, the pseudo-external position of human’s speech and the act of humans categorizing non-humans as animals. The most consequential and fatal practice is the categorization of certain species as useful/useless, good/bad, loved/hated. Similar boundaries are set by humans in neoliberal times – i.e. through the adjectives successful/unsuccessful, beautiful/ugly, athletic/lazy. Both artists, Frida Klingberg and Alida Mueschen, appropriate respected and disrespected practices to gain new knowledge about the world – and consider nature not as a container in which »we« live in but as something which constantly performs itself differently. Whereas Frida Klingberg reenacts the physical movements of cormorants in her video Drying My Wings II (2009) and spends one night in the forest to wait for »the wolf« in One night alone in the wolf territory of Gräsmark (2011), Alida Mueschen climbs the artificial mountain outside the exhibition space just like a sportswoman in order to demonstrate the intense curiosity of her body and mind through her performance Hard-liner (2012). By foreshadowing the coming apocalypse, »Hated Animals. News about the Apocalypse #5« suggests performativity as a productive technique to constantly negotiate anthropocentric discourses.
For her three part series »Hated Animals« (2009-2012), Frida Klingberg from Stockholm chose three animals that have a difficult stand in society: the Great cormorant, the wolf, and the Crab louse. In the archive room of NOTE ON, right past the entrance, the artist will present the series Loppan triptych (2009), three photographs taken in Loppan, an island where an unknown man destroyed a cormorant colony. The cormorant is a seabird that breeds in colonies and whose feces is known to lead to a vegetation loss. Klingberg’s video piece, Drying My Wings I (2009), about the cormorant is made of several interviews she did in the small Swedish city Härnösand. After collecting three different voices, from the speaker of the Swedish environmental protection agency to one single fisherman, she visited the island to produce the performance Drying My Wings II (2009) in which she is walking to different spots on the island spreading her arms. Her performative lecture Save the Crab Louse (2012) is her newest work in this series and creates an argument for the Crab louse, which might be threatened by extinction. Frida Klingberg explains: »It is a small louse that lives in human pubic hair, armpit hair, beard and only on humans.« The artist encourages her listeners to save this species while using rhetoric from WWF and other NGO’s.
In the inner room of the main exhibition space, she will show a series of photographs entitled One night alone in the wolf territory of Gräsmark (2011) taken by a trail camera attached to a nearby tree, while she was sleeping in a wolf territory. This performance will be presented as a time lapse to reflect upon the perception of time being endless while sleeping in the »wilderness«. For her piece, Stories from the Countryside (2011), she did interviews with village people about their experiences with wolves. Frida Klingberg regards the existing discourses about nature and the humanistic-patriarchal values as the base for a deeply schizophrenic society that consumes »ecological« products from »happy« (and therefore »loveable«) animals, but is disinterested in changing the system in which they are entangled like the crab louse in »our« pubic hair. Her performances, sound pieces, videos and photographs are mixing human and non-human performative actions with the aim to destabilize the spectator’s outside position.
The Berlin based artist Alida Mueschen engages us differently by proposing a critical attitude towards normativity. In her performances she activates Barad’s »unexamined habits of mind« through searching for strongly conventional practices inside the so-called human. Her performance Hard-liner (2012) deals with the body as a site of struggle between the »wild« and »tamed« using the »rocky training« of her body and mind. Inside the exhibition space Alida Mueschen publishes the actualised script for her lecture performance, The Tamed Act – The Act of Taming [Der gezähmte Akt – Der Akt der Zähmung], held in 2009 at the exhibition »Der Akt – Seismograph der Gesellschaft« at Galerie Ulrike Horst in Hamburg. For Hard-liner, Mueschen overworked and edited her three-year-old script and decided to climb the artificial mountain of a sportsclub in the neighborhood of NOTE ON. Her staging of a physical action like climbing a plastic mountain reflects on thinking as the most important activity in her artistic work. While doing art, each step is carefully considered – just as it has to be during climbing. In Hard-liner, Mueschen creates the tragic image of a young artist performing a highly symbolic leisure activity. The performance connects the practice of thinking with hard training, invisible peaks and a constant movement inside the »world-body space« (Karen Barad). For years, her artistic practice has been bound to exercise, sport and dance as disciplines of intentional exhaustion of the body and the mind. She enters deeply into sport techniques like jogging, swimming and climbing to track its unexamined, non-classified and therefore post-human potential. Alida Mueschen is interested in luxury and boredom as symptoms of the consumerist society as well as of the art world where the desire for »wildness« gets sublimated through fashion styles.
Picture: Frida Klingberg, One night alone in the wolf territory of Gräsmark, 2012.