photo: Juraj Bartoš
The exhibition presents two different viewpoints on social systems founded on collective living. This theme is very topical right at the point when the post-Fordian social model is gradually becoming exhausted and new, effective solutions are still lacking. Two artists from historically very disparate ‘Western Block’ countries, Italy and Denmark, here present two distinct approaches and ways of viewing the situation as it exists.
The Italian artist Luana Perilli (Rome, 1981) presents her long-term, multidisciplinary research, in the context of which she investigates the world of creatures living in organized societies. In the Superorganism project she focuses on the socio-biological aspects of the functioning of ant colonies and on applying acquired knowledge concerning the contexts of the global social and economic crisis. Perilli’s project comprises objects, installations, videos, drawings and collages and contains several texts relating to her research. The objects consist of glass cases containing the habitats of ant colonies with real nests of living ants, which can be seen through the glass. An accompanying video combines footage of an ant invasion of a certain apartment with a 1959 documentary, Goodbye, Mrs. Ant, and a video produced by Velsicol Chemical Corporation, which on the one hand details the fascinating life and intelligence of the ant colony, and on the other promotes a product designed to exterminate the creatures. The artist offers a model of the functioning of society in opposition to the contemporary individualistic principle – an alternative Societas, whose success and survival in inhospitable conditions are founded on a sophisticated collective system of radical altruism. This is not an abstract moral imperative, but the natural law that guarantees the wellbeing and strength of an insect living in a colony. Superorganism operates like a unified body with the individual members acting as its cells. The artist focuses on detailing specific examples of the pro-social behavior of ants, such as mutual help, common care of future generations and a common nutritional system, though she does not neglect to mention also other features of the functioning of the ant colony, such as social parasitism and even the enslavement of one species of ant by another. She thus presents a mirror image by means of a society that operates on a similar basis to our human one.
The central theme of It Hade To Be Love, the project of the Danish artist Gudrun Hasle (1979, Copenhagen) is the engagement of her parents for many years in the Danish communist movement, which struggled romantically for a better society. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, the movement became a thing of the past, which Danish society today perceives as a mixture of kitsch, pathos and guilt over indirect involvement in political transgressions. Hasle does not judge her parents, but employs her family history as a contextual base by which to approach an understanding of the present. The pieces that Hasle prepared in the context of the project record the youthful enthusiasm of her parents, from involvement and revolutionary ideas, through gradual doubt and ending in disappointment and resignation. The project contains a collection of Hasle’s parent’s objects pointing to their communist past. In the video A Sign from my Mother’s Past, her mother describes her view of her own past, when, together with other squatters, she occupied an abandoned house in Copenhagen. It Hade To Be Love constitutes part of her continuing analysis of her personal cultural history. The work of the Danish artist Gudrun Hasle is grounded in reflections on her own personal, often intimate history. She takes an interest in various methods of social interaction and investigates the conditions of human existence in society and the reach of social relations into the private life of the individual. She processes various incidents from her own life and that of her family and creates from them model situations. She is dyslectic and tries to turn her handicap into a means of work, because the spectator reading her texts also becomes ‘dyslectic’, experiencing at first hand the inability to make sense of any text. She works with various media, in particular embroidery, photography, linocut, video, text, installation and drawing.