Schipbreukeling – Mathieu Charles

Julieta Aranda

Time will tell: an unreadable script takes shape and then destroys itself

‘So many losses occur that damaged ecosystems are unable to recuperate their diversity. The death of resilience and renewal, at least for a while. So many extinctions that the process of evolution is unable to keep up. More species die than are coming into being. The death of evolution itself, at least for a while.’

– Deborah Bird Rose, ‘Double Death’

Julieta Aranda´s sculpture draws on the importance of ‘dying’ for intergenerational life. It points towards the dynamic relationship between life and non-life for the biosphere as a self-regulating organism. As a system where, as James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis has it: ‘living matter collectively defines and regulates the material conditions necessary for the continuance of life’.

Her work highlights the status of ‘Double Death’ that the modern project brought into being by both changing the understanding of death as something that is ‘outside’ and external to circles of life as much as by the toxification and poisoning that carries on in matter and energy. The work´s form and function is loosely inspired by both whale falls, a whale carcass that sinks to the bottom of the ocean, and becomes a brutally tender gift of life-in-death for all the creatures that feast on it; and nurse logs, namely fallen trees that, as they decay, provide ecological facilitation to seedlings and other life forms in their immediate environment.

A large rack of bones rendered in granite, and somehow reminiscent of a shipwreck, acts as an accidental host for some of the smaller lifeforms that inhabit the park in which it is installed. Based on the artist´s long-term interest in ecological emergences and amphibious lives, the work in itself nurtures and sustains life, being a sculptural piece as a flourishing space for endangered species. By existing both as a piece of art by default sealed for eternity and as a work that thinks of life to be birthed and nurtured through it, it alludes to two simultaneous time scales: geological, impenetrable time and a generous, gift of life-through-death kind of time.

Julieta Aranda (Mexico City) composes sensorial encounters with the nature of time and speculative literature, observing the human-earth relationship through technology, artificial intelligence, space travel and science. In installations, sculptures, videos and print media she explores the potential of science-fiction, alternative economies and the ‘poetics of circulation’. Her work challenges the subject-object boundary while embracing chance encounters, auto-destruction and social processes. Aranda’s solo exhibitions have been held at venues including: Galería OMR, Mexico City; Portikus Frankfurt; Francesco Pantaleone Arte Contemporanea, Palermo; New Museum, New York; Guggenheim, New York; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce, Genova, Italy; and the Kunstverein Arnsberg, Germany. She has participated in numerous international group exhibitions at Fridericianum Museum, Kassel; Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden; Gropius Bau, Berlin; Public Art Munich; FKA Witte de With, Rotterdam; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit among others. Aranda was part of dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; MOMENTUM 10, Moss, Norway; 12th Istanbul Biennial; VII Havana Biennial; Berlin Biennale 8; 56th and 54th Venice Biennale; 2nd Moscow Biennale; Liverpool Biennial; and the 9th Lyon Biennial. As an editor of e-flux journal, and co-director of the online platform e-flux, Aranda has developed the projects Global Contemporary Travel, Time/Bank, Pawnshop, Supercommunity and e-flux video rental, most of which started in the e-flux storefront in New York and travelled worldwide. 

This work is presented in collaboration with the Kröller-Müller Museum.

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