15 September - 17 December 2016
Opening: 14 September 2016, from 6 pm
Venue: 401contemporary, Potsdamer Straße 81 B, Berlin (Tiergarten)
Thomas Feuerstein’s works cut across borders and are universal. They interweave pictorial, linguistic and scientific layers to create “conceptual narration”. Feuerstein works with a variety of media, including sculpture and installation, drawing, painting, photography and netart. In the process, he creates multi-layered references to biology, philosophy of science, economics, politics and cultural history. By interweaving the factual with the fictitious he deconstructs the claims to truth of dogmatic paradigms and allows new systems of meaning to emerge.
STAR JELLY is Thomas Feuerstein’s fourth solo show at 401contemporary. It focuses on the development of a procedural conception of sculpture. With the help of chemists and biologists, Feuerstein has succeeded in creating a new synthetic molecule, which he refers to - not without irony - as the world’s smallest sculpture: PSILAMIN.
Together, the individual works form a living laboratory, which serves to produce PSILAMIN.
At the beginning of the process are glass sculptures in which algae and fungi grow, from which dopamine, a “happiness hormone”, and psilocin, a psychoactive substance already used by the Aztecs as a vision-inducing drug, are derived. The molecular sculpture PSILAMIN, which is synthesised from it, is a mind-altering hallucinogenic, which - if one were to take it - would shift the exhibition space to within our body and transform our perception of the objects in the space: objects begin to breathe, soften and liquefy.
During the production of PSILAMIN, the residual biomass of the algae and fungi creates a viscous slime. Thick threads and streaks combine to form a transparent, liquid sculpture. The psychotropic effect of the hallucinogenic substance, which makes solid objects appear to dissolve in our perception, is reflected as an actual process. The internal world of the psyche and the external one of the polymer slime begin to overlap.
In Feuerstein’s speculative fiction STAR JELLY, which can be experienced at the exhibition as both a visual story and audio play, the slime becomes a narrative about a future community in which everything communicates molecularly. Feuerstein tells a horror story about a “slime age”, between utopia and dystopia, in which we already find ourselves today: “We are born in slime and we end in slime in the grave. In between, we try to keep ourselves dry.”
Thomas Feuerstein (born in1968) lives in Vienna and studied Art History and Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck. Since 1997 he has held teaching positions and visiting professorships at various universities and art colleges. Feuerstein’s works and projects use a range of media, encompassing everything from installations, environments, objects, drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs to videos, audio plays and netart. The interplay of linguistic and visual elements, the teasing out of latent connections between fact and fiction, and the intertwining of art and science are some of the key aspects of his work.
STAR JELLY. DAIMON CULT
Quotes from the audio play “Star Jelly”. “Daimon Cult” by Thomas Feuerstein
(100 min. // Voice: Tina Muliar. Composition: Szely. Production: Peter Szely and Ö1 Kunstradio.)
Sperm, blood, intestinal fluids, lymph, saliva. Human beings are creatures of slime, and because we’re ashamed of this we’ve invented a culture to escape from the slime. Culture means assuming a dry and solid physical state. A desperate attempt to stabilise things so they don’t slip from our grasp. Laws, museums, libraries, archives, rules, ethics and rituals are strategies of preservation.
Culture is a hopeless battle against entropy, decomposition and decay. When we’re sick, we spit up slime. When slime oozes from our orifices, we’re afraid of dissolving. There is something alarming, infectious and epidemic about slime. It leaks from all our pores, uses our skin and links us with everything we touch. It infects us and makes us part of its system by turning us into the breeding ground of its existence. We’re afraid of it because it makes us aware of the fact that we are just one slime blob among others.
Slime knows no boundaries; it crawls, flows and drips over all obstacles. Yet there is no reason for fear or horror. This flowing connects us human beings. We dissolve into slime and our cell fluids mingle. If we were aware of the fact that we are all the same plasma, a single billowing bio-film, it would be the end of all wars. Schopenhauer wrote about the layer of mould on the world that created living and perceiving beings – what he meant was this kind of slime. (…)
Human beings are dried out and burn like tinder. They suffer from burnout and depression. They are sick with worry about their health and security. Museums and art galleries are turning into spas. Wellness artists produce natural landscapes, sunsets and streams for denatured city dwellers who have lost their connection to the world and to nature.
Since the modern era, art has believed in production without narration. But if there is nothing left to tell, the threads snap and the connection to the world is severed. The desiccation of humans results in their mummification. They are sapless; they petrify and turn into fossils. Before humankind dies out, it preserves itself. It curates its disappearance in the museum of post-history as paradise of the eternal hereafter. The Accademia dei Secreti wants to give moisture to humankind and protoplastically fuse us together into a new community. (…)
Everything communicates molecularly: quorum sensum.