In the sparsely furnished, dimly lit hall on the third floor of an enormous dilapidated house, bed frames are loosely arranged around ornate plaster columns in irregular rows. The reference to an orphanage, or a dormitory is immediate and obvious, yet the recurrence of digital printing and a wall-mounted flat screen brings your thoughts back to the Berlin art scene.
EDENunlimited/tbc.tbc is a collaborative project by artists Clémence de La Tour du Pin and Antoine Renard and the curators Elise Lammer and Emiliano Pistacchi. It pulls together sound and installation works of 19 artist from 13 contributing not-for-profit spaces. The show holds a strong aesthetic reference to Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster‘s TH.2058 show, which imagined Tate Modern 50 years into the future as a post-apocalyptic shelter, an installation housing rows of bare metal bed frames and remnants of personal effects. Despite the reference though, experiencing EDENunlimited will not be like walking through the eerily deserted isles of an abandoned ward.
Emphasising audio, each of the 13 installation pieces on show have its own aural composition. Technology varies, ranging from a pair of subwoofers, that seem to be hooked up to two-stroke engine oil, erratically amplifying dialogue from de La Tour du Pin and Renard’s ‘I Do It So It Feels Real’ (2014); to a variety of dinky portable MP3 docks; to several straggly in-ear headphone sets. At the far end of the room, a performer reinterprets Jacques Roger’s ‘Audio File’ (2014) on an acoustic guitar. His quiet strumming rises above the conglomerate noise of the show evaporating gently a moment or two later. In addition, the general sound system, a constantly changing, continuous layer in the exhibition ambience, throws a shroud over the space, at times dominating, or sublimating to, the individual pieces.
Selected by Switzerland’s SALTS, Hannah Weinberger‘s moody track featuring samples of running water, dripping pipes and hollow plumbing, ‘Hi’ (2013), evokes moisture and dankness. It lends itself to the damp old walls that house the exhibition. Occasional sound bites emerging from Andrew Birk & Ian Swanson‘s ‘Road Poets Flip Chasm’ (2014), pull and push perception in unexpected directions. A low hush of digital static in the space sounds like insects. A voice advises, “you imagine the smell of it … life feels like static … life feels like not life … like a cot in an institution”. Electric prickles run over your skin like the static ghosts of bed bugs and roaches. A digital reminiscence of this corporeal imagination of the tiny horrors that lurk in dormitories, scabies, lice, contagious skin conditions; digital pricks and burns experienced by those with electromagnetic sensitivity. “You can feel the analogue is about to break.” In this case it is the digital that is breaking, janky systems that run low on battery, or having been set in energy-saver mode are drifting off to sleep.
According to the project brief, “contributing art spaces were selected following a set of secret yet random criteria.” Though we will likely never learn the “secret criteria” on which the show is premised. This exhibition evokes intimacy, it is about revealing what is initially hidden.
Like finding a colony of holographic ants on the underside of a log, each piece in EDENunlimited must be discovered. You crouch against the wall by Aimee Heinemann‘s ‘Greek & Roman Mythology 2003: World Aquaculture & Apocalypse Narratives’ (2014), invited by UK’s Almanac, insert a pod or two into your aural orifices and tune into Heinemann’s voice. Following a lilting narrative, it transports you somewhere else, into a magical wikipedia of bodies and psychologies and smoky experimental skies, the voice tells you, “Strange Galaxies”.
From one thin bare mattress to the next, the exhibition winds through a series of simulated privacies. A text printed on silk, ‘Bind To’ (2014) by V4ULT’s Anna Mikkola and Hanna Nilsson, hangs, shower-curtain-like as an imperfect partition between pieces. Coming upon Jacent Varoym‘s ‘La Sieste (Abyssus Abyssum Invocat)’ (2014), a scene strewn with clothing, a half-drunk glass of wine and a plate of curry wurst, confronting and embarrassing you with these abject remnants of life. Visitors to the space sit on beds and talk in hushed tones. Everywhere you walk, you feel like you’re interrupting. You stop by Andrea Lukic‘s, ‘Who Will Let Her Hair Down When I Cannot Sing My Heart’ (2014) and poke the grimy nub of an earphone into your ear to discover the sound of fire crackling from the imitation flames of wood, pebbles and light bulbs. Though the intimacies are calculated, their simulated viscera is tangible.**
Exhibition photos, top-right.