Ali Cherri, Patricia Dominguez, Hessie, Karrabing Film Collective, Candice Lin31.05.23 - 29.07.23
total climate is a three-part exhibition reflecting upon the relationship between colonial history and ecology. After having analysed how historical mechanisms and trauma are embedding themselves within the material composition of the environment in part 1: the infinitesimal and the mobile (Jun – Jul 2022), part 2: wavelengths (Jun – Jul 2023) focuses its attention on notions of knowledge and sensibilities, examining how colonialism operates within the formation of ‘intellectual climates’.
Featuring works by Ali Cherri, Patricia Domínguez, Hessie, Karrabing Film Collective and Candice Lin, this group exhibition reflects upon the ideologies hidden behind given forms of knowledge and practices – e.g. scientific objectivity, taxonomy, museology –, while promoting modes of seeing, doing and being that allow for alternative understandings and tellings of the environment.
It is in that perspective that the title of this chapter was chosen. Designating the distance between two consecutive waves which, by expanding and overlapping, can occupy more than one position at any moment in time, wavelengths evoke the idea of an object that can be simultaneously localised and extended, implying that the nature of what is observed changes according to the position of the observer.
This opposition between standpoints is articulated in the video The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland (2018) by Karrabing Film Collective (Australia). Set in the near future, when European settlers cannot survive in a landscape poisoned by capitalism, the film tells the story of Aiden, a young indigenous man who was stolen as a child and experimented on in the hopes of finding a cure. The film starts when he is released back into the world of his family, where he is confronted with two possible futures and pasts, embodied by his own tale and the narratives of multinational chemical and extractive industries.
First a stranger in his own land, Aiden gradually meets with territorial beings: mermaids, a bee, and a cockatoo, bringing forth a pertinent inquiry of whose and which lives matter.
Other artists in the exhibition re/de-contextualise the inherited dualisms of culture/nature, science/belief, language/matter. Whether through sculpture, photography, textile or moving image, the artworks presented consider the way in which these registers have been defined and dialecticised, scrutinising the ideologies their opposition serves, consolidates and normalises.
Shown for the first time in the UK, the work of Hessie (born Carmen Lydia Đurić, 1936, Cuba – 2017, France), for instance, employs techniques of sewing and weaving to propose a vision of history and nature as dynamic assemblages of intertwining threads, elements and accidents. Transforming techniques of embroidery and collage into an expression of survival, labour and feminism – she herself designated them as ‘survival art’ in the 1970s –, Hessie’s artworks defies categorisation through actions patching, binding and nursing, embracing notions of fragility, dissolution and loss.
Likewise, the work of Silver Lion winner Ali Cherri (1976, Beirut) explores the temporal shifts between ancient worlds and contemporary societies by collecting, repairing and grafting antique and contemporary artefacts. Comprising relics gathered on archaeological sites – e.g. amulet from the Ancient Egypt period and a Buddha bust from Thailand’s Ayuthaya Kingdom (XVth Century), Cherri’s works invite us to rethink the museological principles of classification and periodisation, intertwining temporalities and geographies in objects that conjure the hybridity and frailty of historical processes.
Albeit with different means and aesthetics, Candice Lin’s film The mountain, the toilet, and the factory, 2023, explores the relationship between material traditions and knowledge production by following the journey of a sex-demon’s quest to return from the dead to their lover in a lithium battery factory. Set among the fumes of soldering smoke and steamy piss in factory toilets, and break room exorcisms, the film looks at the proto-industrial aspects of ceramic production in Asia, and the role of crafts (ceramics and textiles) in general in the development of the Industrial Revolution, drawing from various Asian myths and ghost lore, such as Chinese hungry ghosts (èguǐ), Japanese shit-eating ghosts (gaki), and Malay penanggal that feast on menstrual blood.
Finally, Patricia Dominguez’s Matrix Vegetal, which comprises a film and two photographs, grows as an inquiry from experimental ethnobotany, South American quantum thinking, dream fiction, and organic connection technologies to expand the perception of the vegetal and the spiritual world.
As part of her research to realise this work, the artist has spent a month of apprenticeship with Amador Aniceto, a healer and curandero living and practising in Madre de Dios. Under his guidance, Domínguez has activated an intimate process of connecting with the living, multi-species language and knowledge of the vegetal world, achieving a temporary disengagement from the “digital matrix” while activating an alliance with plants and the vegetal matrix instead. In doing so, Domínguez establishes a connection with the more-than-human language of the earth, and speculatively accesses a portal to the quantum world, revealing how plants and their multiple spirits operate.
Proposing an extension of the notion of knowledge that no longer differentiates thinking and feeling, the artists in wavelengths invite us to apprehend nature and history in ways that are not limited to rational analysis, promoting instead modes of encountering the environment that can hold a multiplicity of standpoints while embracing incompleteness, emotions and sensations.
total climate is co-curated by artist Gaëlle Choisne, NıCOLETTı’s director Camille Houzé and curator and researcher Estelle Marois.
Ali Cherri (1976, Beirut, Lebanon) is an artist whose work is inspired by artefacts and the natural world. His sculptures, drawings and installations explore the temporal shifts between ancient worlds and contemporary societies. Using archaeological artefacts as a starting point, he investigates the boundaries of ideologies that underpin the foundations of nations and the myth of national progression. His work explores the links between archaeology, historical narrative and heritage, considering the processes of excavation and relocation of cultural objects into museums.
Recent solo exhibitions include If you prick us, do we not bleed?, National Gallery, London, UK (2022); Return of the Beast, Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France (2021); Tales from the Riverbed, Clark House Museum, Chicago, USA (2018); From Fragment to Whole, Jönköping County Museum, Sweden (2018); Satellite 10: Somniculus Programme, CAPC Centre d’art contemporain de Bordeaux and Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (2017); A Taxonomy of Fallacies: The Life of Dead Objects, Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon (2016).
His work has recently been exhibited at the Institut València d’Art Modern, Valencia, Spain; Jameel Arts Center, Dubai, UAE; Para Site, Hong Kong; Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (MAXXI), Rome, Italy; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present, Sharjah, UAE (2023); the 5th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire, Kochi, India (2022); the 59th Venice Biennale: The Milk of Dreams, Venice, Italy (2022); Manifesta 13, Marseille, France (2020); the 5th Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art: Immortality, Ekaterinburg, Russia (2019), the 8th Melle International Biennale of Contemporary Art: Les Rêves du monde, Melle, France (2018), and Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj, Sharjah, UAE (2017).
His work is included in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA; Centres Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; National Gallery, London, UK; Art Jameel Collection, Dubai, UEA; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona, Spain; and Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon, among others.
Patricia Domínguez (1984, Santiago, Chile) lives and works in Puchuncaví, Chile. Through a wide variety of media, Domínguez draws upon myths, symbols, rituals and healing practices, combining artistic imagination with experimental research on ethnobotany. Domínguez works with watercolours, ceramics, sculptural assemblages and video installations to create shrine-like imagery derived from a visual vocabulary that spans from plant life, mass market goods, corporate wellness schemes and the digital world. Her multi-layered artistic approach is informed by the wide scope of her education and research; her MFA from Hunter College, New York is supplemented by a Botanical Illustration Certificate from the New York Botanical Garden, a residency at CERN to learn about quantum physics, non-locality and entanglement, and time spent in Peru learning from a plant healer and researching beliefs around interconnectivity and multi-species spirit in the plant world. Dominguez is also the founder of Studio Vegetalista, an experimental platform for ethnobotanical research based in Chile.
Recent exhibitions include Screen Series, New Museum, New York, USA (2022); Rooted Beings, Wellcome Collection, London, UK (2022); Super Natural, Eden Project, Bodelva, UK (2022); Green Irises, WAMx, Turku, Finland (2021); and How to Tread Lightly, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (2020-2021). Domínguez presented a solo booth with Cecilia Brunson Projects at Frieze London in 2022, and exhibited at the Screen City Biennial: Other Minds, Berlin, Germany (2022) and the 13th Gwangju Biennale: Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning, Gwangju, South Korea (2021).
She was awarded the Simetría Residency Award by CERN, Geneva, Switzerland in 2020 and the Beca Fundación Botín Grant, Santander, Spain in 2022.
Her work is in the collections of TBA 21 Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary; the Wellcome Collection, London; and Fiorucci Arts Trust.
Hessie (1933, Spanish Town, Jamaica – 2017, Pontoise, France), born Carmen Igartua Pellot, was a self-taught artist who played a significant role as one of the few artists of colour active on the French art scene in the 1970s. Her artistic journey began in the late 1960s, where she developed a unique body of work that incorporated embroidery and collage as a means of expressing themes of survival and feminism. Like her contemporaries, she reappropriated traditional feminine craft practices to create a contemporary language with needle and thread.
Born into a mixed Caribbean family, Hessie left Jamaica in 1960 to go on a transformative journey across the American continent. She was first employed as a copyist of works of art in New York City, where she met the Montenegrin artist Dado (Miodrag Duric); they eventually settled in Hérouval, Haute Normandie (FR) in 1962. She found a home in a mill generously provided by collector Daniel Cordier, where she resided until her passing in 2017. It was within the confines of this house that Hessie established a personal studio, allowing her to retreat into a creative sanctuary where she wove the threads of a domestic time. There, in ‘a room of one’s own’ to use Virginia Woolf’s expression, she developed a body of work that transcended conventional notions of time and artistic boundaries, persisting until her last days.
Solo exhibitions include several presentations at Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre, Paris, France (2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015); Survival Art, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC), León, Spain (2018); Survival Art, Les Abattoirs, Musée – Frac Occitanie, Toulouse, France (2017); Soft résistance, La Verrière Hermès, Brussels, Belgium (2016); Hessie : Silence, La BF15, Lyon, France (2016); Hessie / Survival Art, Konsthall, Lund, Sweden (1978); Hessie, Galerie Marcel Billot, Paris, France (1976); Survival Art : Hessie, ARC 2 Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (1975).
Her work has been presented in several international fairs including Luxembourg Art Week | The Fair, Luxembourg, Luxembourg; artgenève, Geneva, Switzerland; Art Paris Art Fair, France; Drawing Now Art Fair, Paris, France; Art Brussels Brussels, Belgium; and FIAC, Paris, France.
Her work is included in the collections of Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.
Karrabing Film Collective is an indigenous media group consisting of over 30 members, bringing together Aboriginal filmmakers from Australia’s Northern Territory. They approach filmmaking as a mode of self-organisation and a means of investigating contemporary social conditions of inequality. Through the collective’s inventive artistic language, their work challenges historical and contemporary structures of settler power. Most of the members of the collective live in rural Indigenous communities in the outback of Australia with low or no income. The films represent their lives and through the process create bonds with their land while intervening in global images of Indigeneity. International screenings and publications of their work over the last few years have provided opportunities for some members of the collective to obtain passports, allowing them to develop local artistic languages and for audiences to understand new forms of collective Indigenous agency.
Their films and installations have been exhibited at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2022); Serpentine Galleries, London, UK (2020); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, USA (2020); Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA (2019); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK (2019); supercommunity, e-flux journal, the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World’s Futures, Venice, Italy (2015); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2017); Tate Modern, London, UK (2017); Contour Biennale 8: Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium, Mechelen, Belgium (2017); Forum Expanded, the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, Germany (2017); documenta 14, Athens, Greece (2017); the 20th Sydney Biennale: The future is already here, Sydney, Australia (2016); and vdrome.org, online (2016), among others.
Karrabing Film Collective has been awarded several prizes including the Eye Art & Film Prize at the Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2021).
Their work is included in the collections of KADIST, San Francisco, US; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; and Museo delle Civiltà, Roma, Italy.
Candice Lin (1979, Concord, USA) is an interdisciplinary artist who works with installation, drawing, video, and living materials and processes, such as mould, mushrooms, bacteria, fermentation, and stains. Her work deals with the politics of representation and issues of race, gender, and sexuality through histories of colonialism and diaspora.
She has had recent solo exhibitions at Spike Island, Bristol, UK (2022); The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge, USA (2022); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA (2021); Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, China (2021); and the Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand (2020). Lin’s work was included in the 59th Venice Biennale: The Milk of Dreams, Venice, Italy (2022), Prospect.5 Triennial: Yesterday We Said Tomorrow, New Orleans, USA (2022), and both the 13th and 14th Gwangju Biennales, Gwangju, South Korea (2021, 2023). She is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
She is the recipient of several residencies, grants and fellowships, such as a Painters & Sculptors Grant, Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York, USA (2019), The Artist Project Award (2018), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, New York, USA (2017), the Davidoff Art Residency, New York, USA (2018) and Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, Washington, USA (2009).
Her work is included in the collections of the Sifang Museum, Nanjing, China and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA.