until 13.08. | #1471ARTatBerlin | König Galerie shows from 15th July 2017 the exhibition “400 Million Years” by the artist Tue Greenfort.
“By creating organisms that are not simply the sum of their symbiotic parts – but something more like the sum of all the possible combinations of their parts – such alliances push developing beings into uncharted realms” – writes the feminist geo-scientist Lynn Margulis in her book Microcosmos (1986) about the meaning of micro-sales, such as microbial knowledge, for the supersession of classical humanist concepts of evolution, identity, and agency. Horizons, such as sea-scapes, make men feel fragmented. The scale of the sea, sky and sun shrinks us to a tiny second in time. And so we measure: time in relation to earth (rock strata) is “geological time”. A tiny fraction of a split geological nano second ago, we named the present “anthropocene”: when men modified the earth, sea, and sky, and anthropogenic residue has come to stratify the world. More precisely: a world which about 400 million years ago created horseshoe crab. And here we are, right in the middle of Tue Greenfort’s 6th solo exhibition at the KÖNIG GALLERY, Greenfort’s first show in the St Agnes chapel. Under the evocative title 400 Million Years, Greenfort (*1973 in Holbaek, Denmark) presents four new groups of works that typically evolve around such processes of the natural world, discourses of ecology, and notions of the environment – the horseshoe crab figuring as a leitmotif to the exhibition’s perspective on human and non-human agency.
Predating life on soil for about 40 million years (and predating human life for another 399.988.000 years …) we call the horseshoe crab a living fossil. Here too, on our gallery floor, they are uncannily petrified and vigorously lively at the same time. Each sculpture of the new series Horseshoe Crabs (concrete, 35x35x15 cm, 2017) is hand-cast in life-size and from concrete which includes industrial fly ashes, a fossil fuel combustion residue of energy plants. And here already, the major meaning of micro comes to the fore: it is precisely because of the ashes’ micro-particles that their flight is a macroenvironmental problem. Yet Greenfort, as more often than not, refrains from clear-cut moralist delineations, and puts this type of ash to a new and aesthetically stunning use. However, his critical method of prevails, when we look at the creatures’ spawning in the exhibition also as a reminder to the endangering of their mating habitat in shallow waters, when those extremely biodiverse edges are modified by men’s maritime industries. Paradoxically (as all ruthless economic development) and symptomatically (for the workings of the anthropocene), with the declining reproduction of those crabs, man also endangers a important ingredient for agri-industrial fertilizers and therefore growing of crops for his own sustenance on the one hand. On the other hand, the arcane blue blood of the horseshoe crab – its receipe to immortality – is also a vital bio-medical commodity, involuntarily donationed by tons of crabs each year; crabs who are bred by artificial insemination.
The video work Horseshoe Crabs, Companion Species, YouTube Series I (HD video, 12:24 min, 2013) visualizes such paradoxes on a media-reflective level: Harvested entirely from YouTube, holiday home video from the beach – where the alien-like bodies of the crabs are met with exquisite fear and exploratory bravery by pals and pets alike – is interlaced with scientific documentation of the creatures bio-chemical features and methods of study. Atmospheric electronical music and a creepy computerized voice-over add to the technological dimension of the bio-political configurations in this case study of a “companion species” (Donna Haraway), and example of “multi-special-intraaction” (Karan Barad). A body politic torn open, simultaneously exterminated and recreated, from egg-state to industrial and scientific afterlife – a fossil life-form haunting our seas and shores.
Another living fossil is Tilapia (ink on rice paper, 50×69 cm, 2017). It is so less in a scientific sense but in its artistic resurrection in print; or more precisely: as an actual 1:1 imprint of the fish’s body covered in inkl on a paper made of crop, namely rice. While continuously concerned with the gillbearing aquatic craniate in general, the Tilapia occupies a particularly special place in Greenfort’s thinking and making (for example as an inhabitant in his long-term social-sculptural Aquaponic System, a more or less selfsustaining multi-species breeding house in a Wedding car workshop). For this exhibition and the freshly produced fish prints – a technique usually applied for recording a fisherman’s catch – there is a new motivation: the artist’s recent research at Lake Victoria in Tanzania, which became infamous as the location and example of Hubert Sauper’s documentary Darwin’s Nightmare (2004) on the fishing industry. Though of relatively young 400.000 years of geological age, lake Nam Lolwe (in Northern Tanzania’s native Luo) is ridden with a complexity akin to the crab story. A delicate kinship: While some species of the Tilapia tribe are endemic to the lake, some others introduced only in the 19050s (first scientifically, then industrially, but always too pricey for the starving) are invasive and predatory, causing the complete disappearance of the former, and many others – and ultimately the lake’s entire environmental equilibrium. The dramatic dynamics of life and death at stake come to the fore in Greenfort’s black-and-white display of fish on the brink of fossilization. Archival gestures of precarious beings, and not quite unlike forensic fingerprints, those melancholy works of art testify to an experience of the kinship of the beauty and barbarity, colonialism, organic ornamentation, and crime.
What lies underneath the surfaces of symbiosis? What lifts the sum of our parts? What scales the weight of sedimentation?
A simple, recognizable, every day form: the wave, the reflection of light on water, the oscillation of a transfer of energy traveling through space and substance. Wave I (glass, 80x90x15 cm, 2017) is all that, and so conveys Greenfort’s concerns and creations in a starkly contrasting lyrical way. Metaphors abound, brimming with species, communities, economies; to be experienced, simply – by yourself.
Tue Greenfort’s exhibition 400 Million Years is a snapshot of specimen at a point in time. It pursues a sampling sited between faux classification and amateur collecting. It redistributes visibility between the invading and the annihilated. Yet visibility alone does not make art. Imagination sets in. And here we are, in the middle of alliances into uncharted realms.
Tue Greenfort’s interdisciplinary practice deals with issues such as the public and private realm, nature and culture. Interweaving these subjects with the language of art he formulates a multi-facetted critique of today’s dominant economical and scientific production. Intrigued by the dynamics in the natural world, Greenfort’s work often evolves around ecology and its history, including the environment, social relations, and human subjectivity. Tue Greenfort (*1973 in Holbaek / Denmark) lives and works in Berlin where he is represented by the gallery Johann König. His work is currently on show in solo exhibition at DEN FRIE, Copenhagen, as well as in Roskilde Festival and group show Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Aarhus Triennale 2017, Aarhus and TBA21, Vienna. As a participant in dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, Greenfort was co-curator of an archive on multi-species co-evolution, The Worldly House. He has had extensive solo presentations at The Museum of Contemporary Art Oslo, Oslo (2016), KÖNIG GALERIE (2014), Sorø Kunstmuseum (2014), SculptureCenter, New York (2013), Berlinische Galerie (2012), South London Gallery (2011), Kunstverein Braunschweig (2008) and Secession, Vienna (2007). He has participated in numerous international exhibitions at institutions including Neues Museum, Nürnberg (2016), ZKM Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe (2015), Kunstmuseum Linz (2014), Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag (2013), Georg-Kolbe-Museum, Berlin (2012), Kunstverein Hannover (2011), Royal Academy of Arts, London (2009), Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples (2008), Skulptur Projekte Münster (2007) and Witte de With, Rotterdam (2006). Among his publications the most comprehensive, Linear Deflection (2009), was published by Walther König.
Vernissage: Friday, 14th July 2017, 06:00 – 09:00 p.m.
Exhibitionperiod: Saturday, 15th July until Sunday 13th August 2017
WHERE? KÖNIG GALERIE | ST. AGNES | CHAPELZur König Galerie
Image caption: Tue Greenfort, Tilapia, ink on rice paper, 50 x 70 cm, 2017
Exhibition Berlin Galleries: Tue Greenfort – König Galerie | ART at Berlin