| The Series Nonhuman Subjectivities (2016-17)
to five hundred years ago Copernicus and Galileo 'removed' the Earth
(and humanity) from the centre of the universe. In Western Philosophy
this coincides with the 'epistemological turn' away from cosmology.
Western civilization, through the enlightenment and into the modern
age, has continued to place the human experience at the centre of
Recent philosophical works have strongly questioned anthropocentric
approaches (e.g. the Speculative Realism of Quentin Meillasoux,
Ray Brassier or Graham Harman, as well as the positions of John
Gray, Isabelle Stengers or Rosi Braidotti). 'Objecthood' becomes
the centre of the discourse - and with it a reality, "which
is indifferent is to subjective-human cognition and can not be conveyed
through a subjectivist or anthropocentric conditional knowledge
and, therefore, can not be primarily codified culturally, linguistically,
politically or historically." (1)
As the humanities finally respond to the 'Copernican Revolution,'
more and more artists are taking up the role of vital actors in
interdisciplinary fields between the humanities and natural sciences.
In response to these current trends Art Laboratory Berlin is initiating
the series Nonhuman Subjectivities: in 2016 and 2017 we will
implement a complex series of exhibitions, events and symposia with
artists and scientists as well as scholars from the humanities.
For the 2016 program we have chosen to present exhibitions on the
microbiome, animals and cognition, and creatures:
The Other Selves. On the Phenomenon of the Microbiome
Francois-Joseph Lapointe, Joana Ricou, Saa
Spačal with Mirjan vagelj and Anil Podgornik,
27 February - 30 April, 2016
The exhibition, the first of our new exhibition series Nonhuman
Subjectivities, presents various artistic reflections on the
complex microbial environment found on and within the human body.
Scientists say that bacterial cells are as numerous as human cells
in our body. The phenomenon of the microbiome also brings forth
many complex questions about human identity and our relation to
our multiple selves.
On Animals. Cognition, Senses, Play
Rachel Mayeri, Maja Smrekar
28 May - 17 July, 2016
This exhibition presents works by Rachel Mayeri and Maja Smrejar.
In their performative, multimedial work about animals, the artists
make use of certain strategies of narrative and the phenomenon of
immersion, in order to approximate the irretrievable perspective
of a non-human counterpart.
positions share the concept formulated by Donna Haraway of "cooperative
actions": overcoming conventional dichotomies of nature/culture,
human/animal or subject/object is all about joint action. In the
sense of Haraway's term "naturecultures" the works of
both artists exist in this very productive interdisciplinary space
where issues of non-human and the human are considered together.
Ultimately Haraway's idea of "otherness-in-relation" can
be understood as core to the exhibition: "[A]ll ethical relating,
within or between species, is knit from the silk strong thread of
ongoing alertness to otherness-in-relation."
How could jellyfish control a complex machine? How
does a microscopic worm, commonly used for laboratory experiments,
perceive homo sapiens? How would cyborg silkworms behave? Do complex
social animals, such as ants or bees, have a sort of social subjectivity?
The exhibition Learning from Creatures presents several outstanding
international artists who reflect in different ways on the skills,
natures and behaviours of various creatures.
Aural Aquatic Presence
September - 9 October, 2016
The exhibition investigates agency and sentience in one of the 'simplest'
of multicellular creatures: the jellyfish, placing it into relation
with a human made machine. Also noteworthy here is the importance
of sound in marine systems, as well as the effects of human intervention
on aural aquatic systems.
February- 2 April, 2017
exhibition project investigates the problematics and possibilities
of communicating nonhuman perception through the interface of artistic
practice and new technologies. By means of interactive and non-interactive
video that use generative and time-based techniques the artist considers
potential narratives of animals under threat from climate change.
Agents in Arts & Culture
As a follow up programme to Nonhuman Subjectivities it took
place from June-December 2017
Armen Avanessian: Epilog. Materialismus und Realismus. Spekulative
Philosophie und Metaphy-sik für das 21. Jahrhundert, in: "Realismus
Jetzt", ed. by. Armen Avanessian, Berlin 2013, p. 8.
2-Haraway, Donna J.: The Companion Species Manifesto.
Dogs, People, and significant otherness. Prickly paradigm Press,
Chicago 2003, p. 50.