„Man is the animal that must recognize itself as human to be human."
The exhibition HOUNDED by Johanna Arco consists of the works of Ferine, 18.11 and Bankett, and explores the connection mankind within their environment – wild as well as his wild as well as tamed. In search of a deeper understanding of cultural structures, the artist focuses her magnifying glass on complex networks of relations such as human and animal, materiality and immateriality, or between concrete matter and identity or memory.
As flora and fauna of Austrian forests are deeply shaped and influenced by mankind, animal and human kingdom have to coexist next to each other, each following certain sets of rules in how to behave.
In a performative manner, Ferine tries to stretch and challenge these rules and distinct behaviours that so strictly separate human from animal. Followed by the gaze of a drone, a woman runs through the forest while breaking these principles of conduct. Is she trying to join the group of wild deers, does she follow the herd or is she the persecuted? The questions are emphasised by the sound of the local radio, highlighting human expectations in the search for wilderness.
[Ferine: wild, untamed, derives from Latin "ferinus" - belonging to wild animals]
Throughout human history, myths and stories established the norm and “reality” of a society. The stories we tell each other form the context through which we experience life, they define the way we see our selves and how we relate to others. In other words, myths form the foundation of mankind`s “cultural hallucination”, they form the way we experience the world and our place within it. These hallucinations give the individual the impression to live in a parallel reality, to feel separate from all other beings.
18.11 deals with the subjective feeling of isolation caused by seemingly uncontrollable thought processes. The video visualises mental projections that capture the consciousness and carry its host into a “reality", in which the actual physical environment plays an abstracted and subordinate role. The movement and speed of the woman moving within the four screens disregards any obstacles given by the artificial landscapes she is navigating through.
Bankett is inspired by a passage from Giorgio Angamben's book "The Open", which describes a miniature Hebrew Bible from the 13th century. The scene represents the messianic banquet of the righteous on the last day. The miniaturist depicts the crowned creatures seated on the banquet, not with human faces, but with animal heads. The philosopher raises the question of why the representatives of concluded humanity are depicted with animal heads. He does not exclude the possibility that on the last day, the relationships between animals and humans will take on new forms and mankind will be reconciled with its animal nature.
In order to avoid meeting the animals as strangers at the banquet on the last day, Johanna Arco offers the beasts a meal, as a first steps to gain intimacy. The offering is placed in a feeding crib - a place that is accepted by animals and humans as a meeting point. The response of the initially suspicious animals is captured by cameras that are attached to the feeding crib, in order to follow the advances.
Opening of the exhibition HOUNDED: Fr, 6.12.2019, 6 pm