They are the ruins of dreams of progress, the wreckage of unbridled consumption. The impact of the exploitation of a landscape goes beyond ‘nature’: it disrupts societies, displaces local populations, causes wars and (geo)political tensions. Traces of the past (colonial histories, inventions, trade relations) will in this way continue to have an impact far into the future. In a selection of (video) installations, photographs, sculptures and performances, EXTRACTIONS focuses on a number of materials and locations that are situated at the intersection of these conditions.
The landscape as part of an ecosystem is the starting point for several works in EXTRACTIONS. In Léonard Pongo’s images of landscapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, creation and apocalypse are intertwined. The mysterious beauty of these photographs invites us to rethink our relationship with the landscape, between attraction and repulsion, between responsibility and wonder. The photographs by Félix Luque Sánchez (Memory Lane), 3D-scans of landscapes that render nature into something high-tech, try to make visible a dormant reality. They are a kind of technological landscape, giving depth to what normally remains under the surface. Laura Colmenares Guerra’s 3D printed porcelain sculptures combine the natural and the technological in a series of artificial landscapes. They are a speculative way of mapping the Amazon basin, mixing geographical data with data from social media.
The exhibition EXTRACTIONS functions as a landscape itself. The installations, photographs and sculptures together form an alienating environment. Destroyed, abandoned zones, polluting materials, rare metals, objects that seem to have a life of their own: it is a disaster environment that is the direct result of long-distance technologies, smart- phones, batteries for electronic cars, excessive meat consumption and many other things that are part of daily life for many and essential to a consumption-driven economy.
The installation EQUIPOISE by Kris Verdonck, consists of magnets, glass and stone, which keep each other in balance in a self-supporting, fragile architecture. They are a kind of sci- plants, part of an artificial scenery. Verdonck’s DETAIL also seems to be battling with gravity. A 650 kg rock hangs and turns, provided the sun shines, because the motor is powered by a solar panel on the roof. Both works present a fragile balance in which the materials - stone, metal, sunlight - tell their own story and seem to slip out of control.
The audience, hesitant, aloof, with mouth masks, is part of this context. Wandering among the disasters, they are indirectly, yet simultaneously cause and effect. The spectator is also an involved party in Gorodets by Niko Hafkenscheid and Valentina Stepanova. In this film installation, the camera wanders as an disembodied eye through deserted ghost villages in Russia. It is up to the viewer to become the body behind the lens, and actively interact with these images of the ruins of modernity.
What kind of people live among all these ruins and disasters? What figures are generated there by the tension between com- fort and destruction, between consumption and madness? What strategies, what deformations must people adopt in order to survive in a context that by their own admission is becoming increasingly unlivable? Isolated beings, sensory deprivated, in overdrive, activate this exhibited landscape, with which they are each in their own way, one with.
In the theatrical installation K, Jeroen Van der Ven (directed by Kris Verdonck) performs a selection of Kafka texts. The actor is a gure exhibited as an object. He may have secured himself on a high pillar, but this way he seems completely alienated from his surroundings. The figure in
K is the kindred antipode of the figures in Verdonck’s IN - performers who are completely submerged, as if preserved in formaldehyde and kept alive by technology. The figures in the work of Anna Franziska Jäger and Nathan Ooms also present a specific state of being. They are completely saturated by a continuous and hyper-mediated consumer culture. Whereas the sculptures and photographs in EX-TRACTIONS refer more to the consequences of the extraction of raw materials, Out of office focuses on unhinged end users. The characters in Jäger and Ooms’ performative installation are sponges that absorb all the online content and language that floods us, artificial beings that no longer have their own language, the performative example of the work of art in times of reproduction. The corona pandemic also meant a fundamental change between humans and their daily environment: empty streets, closed shops, theatres and cinemas and isolation. For Annelies Van Parys, Gaea Schoeters, Lies Colman and Els Mondelaers it was the context in which they worked on their version of Paul Van Ostaijen’s Holle Haven (Hollow Harbour), a poem from his Bezette Stad (Occupied City). How do we experience an infected city, and do we make our way through the tensions created by masks, distance rules and an invisible virus that puts society ‘on hold’?
The cycle of cause and e ect of ecological and socio-political effects of economic systems, inventions and the urge for power forms a red thread through the work of Kris Verdonck / A Two Dogs Company. With EXTRACTIONS A Two Dogs Company organises for the first time an exhibition that places this work in a broader artistic context. Kristof Van Baarle
24 April - 16 May 2021
Laura Colmenares Guerra
Niko Hafkenscheid & Valentina Stepanova
Felix Luque Sánchez
Jeroen Van der Ven
Anna Franziska Jäger & Nathan Ooms
Annelies Van Parys - Gaea Schoeters - Lies Colman - Els Mondelaers
A Two Dogs Company
Rue Adolphe Lavallée 41
1080 Molenbeek (BE)