It Bites Back features new and existing works based on a laboratory in São Paulo that breeds genetically-engineered mosquitoes. Transgenic male mosquitoes are designed to reduce the insect’s population by passing a lethal gene on to their offspring when released into the wild. Ranging from analogue film to sound installation, digital animation and poetry, Neves Marques’ exhibition interrogates the laboratory as a place that defines the biopolitics of the 21st Century.
Working across theory and fiction, Neves Marques’ films and writings trace the histories of colonialism past and present, weaving a constant dialogue with contemporary issues of political ecology, science and technology. His work engages with feminist histories of science as well as indigenous cosmologies in Brazil, where most of his films are produced. They are driven by the imagination of possible futures and livelihoods emerging from the gaps between radically different worlds.
It Bites Back examines the current trauma of biological warfare against the backdrop of the Zika virus epidemic and the increasingly palpable threat against non-normative bodies in Brazil and elsewhere. In the exhibition, body fluids and sex hormones are revealed as agents of power that operate with extraordinary force in our lives at the molecular level. Drawing inspiration from the literary traditions of horror and science fiction, Neves Marques invites the viewer to speculate on the future of love, care and intimacy in the midst of the current rise of authoritarian politics.
The exhibition revolves around the film installation A Mordida (The Bite), a diptych comprising two short films from 2018, separately titled Sex as Care and The Gender of the Lab. In them, polyamorous encounters and the intimacy of queer lives run parallel to the scientific production of gender in sterile laboratory environments. In a twist on popular tropes associated with pulp genres such as weird fiction and gothic horror, A Mordida investigates contemporary expressions of terror and moral panic in the face of viral infection. It also explores alternate forms of living together, exemplifying modest hope in a time of rising fascism and militarization.
The films are presented alongside a multi-channel sound installation featuring an eerie, dark ambient soundscape by London-based music producer HAUT. For Gasworks, the two film projections are synchronised with the dim lighting of the space, choreographing the movement of audiences across the galleries. In A Mordida, documentary footage and fictional scenes are interspersed with a selection of poems from Neves Marques’ upcoming book Sex as Care and Other Viral Poems, fragments of which will be presented in a public reading at Gasworks.
It Bites Back is punctuated by two digital animations. One is displayed in a ceiling-mounted flat screen, while the other exists online. In the exhibition space, Aedes aegypti (2017) is a hyperrealistic render of the infamous mosquito, which is a vector for diseases including Zika and Dengue. The audience is granted a glimpse of the transgenic female specimen as it mates with a male and feeds on human blood. In dialogue with this work, a newly commissioned animation will be released through Gasworks’ online platforms as a viral intervention.
Pedro Neves Marques’ exhibition follows on from his residency at Gasworks in 2018. A Mordida (The Bite) was originally commissioned by Perez Art Museum (PAMM) in Miami.