In 2022, < rotor > is all about our “other-than-human” companions. Present and ephemeral, apparently real and allegedly imaginary beings and creatures will make their appearance. Thereby, humans do not occupy a special position in the sense of posthumanism, they represent one of very many species.
The exhibition series “Beings & Creatures” continues with the second part. This chapter is dedicated to the kinship links between life forms on Earth—in the present and the past, sometimes long ago.
The exhibited works by eleven artists and collectives deal with the cooperation and the symbioses of organisms. The common origin of mammals, the connecting lines to microscopic organisms, the forms of coexistence between humans, animals and plants are just as much a topic as relations to previous generations, the dissolution of unambiguous classifications and the transitions from one form of appearance to another.
Exhibited Artworks in each exhibition room
* Entrance room 1 *
Margo Sarkisova has been in Graz as artist-in-residence since the beginning of June and has since created a space-filling painterly installation for the entrance space.
For some time now, the artist has been exploring the figure of the gardener. She is interested in the mentality of those who take care of their own little universe, nurturing it with love and patience so that a beautiful, flourishing garden can emerge. She sees this as a metaphor for life itself, where seeds must also be sown at the right time to secure the future.
At present, however, the garden is suffused with the light of the black sun.
We are experiencing some of the darkest nights in human history.
But little, humble gardeners continue to fill the soil with seeds.
They are full of solidarity and visions for tomorrow. Margo Sarkisova dedicates this work to her home country Ukraine.
Special thanks go to the curator Nastia Khlestova, who proposed Margo Sarkisova for the exhibition series “Beings & Creatures”.
Margo Sarkisova, born in 1997, lives in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv.
* Room 2 *
In this space, < rotor > 2021 already presented an installation created by the duo Grossi Maglioni from the project “Beast Mother”.
At that time, it was elements of a tent with embroidered fabric panels, a star-shaped upholstered landscape and, in addition, an audio installation that told the story of a tangled mother-child relationship.
This installation was a main inspiration for the current exhibition series “Beings & Creatures”.
The work “Beast Mother”, which was further developed in the long term, links an imaginary narrative with prehistoric ideas in which the female body merges with animal and plant elements and also draws on ancient mythology and magic and develops into science fiction.
One of the elements from the series is a “plateau”, a horizontal installation consisting essentially of layers of fabric, a ground from which monstrous and fantastic female silhouettes emerge.
Also on display is a series of masks designed as visual aids, which Grossi Maglioni also refer to as “visual weapons”. They were created as part of an artistic investigation into the question of whether it is possible to injure the object of observation by looking at it. The various masks produced in this context were used for individual and team performances.
Francesca Grossi and Vera Maglioni, both born in 1982, live in Rome.
In this video work, the oldest known representative of the primates is the protagonist.
Purgatoriids lived around the time of the great mass extinction around 66 million years ago that ended the era of the dinosaurs.
Purgatorius talks about how mammals have been co-developed and used as “artificial intelligence” by trees.
The treetops offered protection, while the actual goal was to effectively fertilise the trees. But then the mammals became humans and started cutting down trees... which leads to the question of where the artificial intelligence being developed today is going.
On the second screen, András Cséfalvay reveals himself as the puppeteer animating the virtual being.
Special thanks to the curator Judit Angel, who proposed András Cséfalvay for the exhibition series "Beings & Creatures". András Cséfalvay, born in 1986, lives in Bratislava.
* Room 3 *
In the early 17th century, an ancient statue of a sleeping hermaphrodite was unearthed in Rome. It was subsequently extended by the Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini to include a marble bed.
The work is on display in this form in the Louvre today. At first glance, the back of a beautiful woman's body is unfolding before the viewer, lying relaxed on the upholstered bed. Only when you walk around the statue you realise that the figure also has male genitals.
In Gideon Horváth’s work, the hermaphrodite is awake and detached from the bed, which has scattered into small elements. The figure turns from an object of observation into an actor and in turn points to the corresponding second part. There, elements of a wondrous world full of boundless fertility and queer sensuality reveal themselves.
For some years now, the artist has been creating sculptures from beeswax. In his endeavour to model trans- identities, the easily mouldable natural material suits him. Special thanks to the curator Róna Kopeczky, who proposed Gideon Horváth for the exhibition series "Beings & Creatures".
Gideon Horváth, born in 1990, lives in Budapest. Courtesy of Glassyard Gallery, Budapest.
The so-called doctrine of signatures assumes that signs exist in nature that refer to similarities, kinships and inner connections. When applied to plants, this can be interpreted in such a way that the appearance of a plant refers to its healing power. For example, plants whose leaves are shaped like human lungs would be used to treat lung diseases.
For Mirna Kutleša, this non-scientific approach to explanation, which can be found in numerous traditional healing teachings worldwide, is the starting point for a reflection on the relationship between humans and plants. Among other things, it casts doubt on the idea that all of nature exists to serve humans. In particular, plants that are used both as medicinal plants and as drugs, even with lethal effects, escape this classification. Such as opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), belladonna (Atropa belladonna) and black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger).
Special thanks to the curator Ksenija Orelj, who proposed Mirna Kutleša' for the exhibition series "Beings & Creatures".
Mirna Kutleša, born in 1980, lives in Rijeka.
* Room 4 *
The plant that is conscious in me. A continuous thread from the first forms of life, and the learnings of all the species that precede us and are present in every part of ourselves. Personal-collective diasporic learnings that manifest in dreams, visions, and in our collective political doings, contributing to maintain a sense of connected-ness and of belonging amidst the unrootedness of non-citizenship and migration. Learning from the neighbor bodies of water, plants, lichen, soil that make us, and tuning to a consciousness beyond the structures of accumulation and exploitation.
Also on view Imayna Caceres Making meaning in more than human worlds: viral leanings Video installation, 2020.
Imayna Caceres created this video work on the basis of a large number of drawings. In it, she takes the historical rupture caused by a microscopic life form, a virus, as the starting point for a reflection on ecological, communal and planetary concerns. In her thinking process, she refers to human and non-human kinships and retrieves sedimentary layers of wisdom.
The work has emerged in collaboration with plants and animals that appeared in dreams and delivered specific messages. The sound track, for example, refers to a dream in which a toad warned of an impending disaster. Several ideas are interwoven with reflections and contributions from the Global South, scientific knowledge and the teachings of a myriad of earth-beings.
Imayna Caceres, born in 1979. Lives in Vienna.
Belinda Winkler arranges her own hair or hair from her closest relatives under a glass dome: Grandmother’s Braid (cut off in 1959). Mother’s Braid (cut off in 1985). My Braid (cut off in 2002).
A Lover’s Facial Hair (a Christmas present).
Hair of the Dead Cat (my sister’s collection). With this small, very personal collection, she forges a bridge that encompasses generations and relationships to persons or living beings. In many cultures, hair and especially braids have been considered to be reservoirs of vital energy or symbols of power down to the present day. Strands of hair of famous personalities are sometimes traded as precious items.
Belinda Winkler, born in 1994, lives in Graz.
* In the atrium *
MODERN PEOPLE GRAZ
Modern People is an algorithm-based performance series that started in 2014 with a site-specific project. Several individuals embark on a search for mental and physical spaces that make currently freely available, material and immaterial resources perceptible anew through a playful process.
Objects found in the immediate neighbourhood, in the Annenviertel, are the starting point for the actions of the performers Elke Auer, Daniel Hafner and Katharina Schmied.
The aim is to create a space for observers to think, to stimulate the imagination and to break and question patterns they have learnt. This can create space in which we can or must ask ourselves the following questions: What kind of living beings are we humans? And what kind of living beings do we actually want to be? How do we move into the future? The performance will take place on 24 June from 8:15 pm.
MODERN PEOPLE: Elke Auer, born in 1980, lives in Vienna. Daniel Hafner, born in 1979, lives in Vienna. Katharina Schmied, born in 1996, lives in Graz.
* Corridor *
Many of Jakup Ferri’s works start with the smallest possible means of drawing, the dot. A picture is then composed of countless dots, which meticulously create beings before our eyes.
For this exhibition, the artist has compiled a selection of drawings from recent years, choosing above all those motifs that deal with the coexistence of different species. Jakup Ferri cares for his characters, he lets them interact with each other and develop joy in being together.
One drawing was highlighted by being enlarged many times over and transferred to the wall. This gives the little being a sudden power, but surprisingly it does not lose any of its likability.
Special thanks to the curator Ivana Marjanović, who proposed Jakup Ferri for the exhibition series "Beings & Creatures".
Jakup Ferri, born in 1981, lives in Prishtina.
* Café *
Sophia Süßmilch uses many of her works to illustrate relationships - with people, animals, plants, with her environment and with nature. This exhibition space brings together works that she has executed in a variety of media: painting, photography, video.
What these works have in common is the examination of one’s own body, its mutability and its connection with other bodies or its fragmentation. In the artistic process, everything can become material, sausage can connect bodies, a missing piece of moss in the forest can trigger a healing process.
The paintings shown are from the project “Sophia Süßmilch and the Story of the Little Man”, in which the artist questions her role in the challenging environment of the art market.
She states with a critical eye:
“For sure, you are not allowed to do it as the little man does: live a life.”
Sophia Süßmilch, born in 1983, lives in Berlin. Thanks to Galerie Krobath (Vienna).
Lisa Reiter has created a multiform being for the exhibition. Several bubbles open at one point have accumulated, which borrow formally and structurally from the animal kingdom.
These could be dwellings for other beings that dwell in the Multibeing, nests or cocoons. But it could well be an independent organism that develops bubble by bubble from within itself, dividing and multiplying like a cell.
This sculpture is a further development from the series of “Beings”, in which the artist built the bubbles, or cocoons, individually. Lisa Reiter, born in 1994, lives in Vienna and Linz.
Beings & Creatures Chapter 2: In the Midst of New and Old Kinship
Duration: 25.6.–30.7. & 29.8.-15.10.2022 Location: < rotor > center for contemporary art, Volksgartenstraße 6a, Graz
Chapter 3: Beings and creatures now on view --> Topic: Between the Found and the Constructed a must see group show with following Artists: Erik Binder • Ernst Koslitsch • Nana Mandl & Karl Karner • Edith Payer • Katrin Plavčak • Cristian Răduţă • Marie Tučková