The exhibition is an exploration site of marvellous erupting potentials for enchantment, connecting various creative, ecological, more-than-human, technological and hand-made propositions that may pose questions, re-imagine relations, offer varied perspectives or shift understandings and knowledges of our contemporary predicament and relation with the natural, the technological, and ourselves. These come together in a visual, aural, spatial, and temporal discourse with a potential for further connections through their relations and exhibition itself.
Fig. above: Broekhuysen , The Sowers , St Johns Wort , Detail 2023
This exhibition was born out of the thesis that enchantment can engender ethics, that moments of enchantment are possible, available and vital in the gloom of our contemporary disenfranchised situation. Moments of joy and curiosity can still be found and sought, and are even essential to foster ethical, compassionate behaviours towards ourselves, others and the world around us
Nicky Broekhuysen has been working with binary codes, stamping them on paper and canvas, since 2007 – at a time when the digitalisation of our world was undergoing a drastic transformation. Previously, she considered 1s and 0s as building blocks of forms and concepts and embraced the digital analogue – the laborious technique of stamping 1s and 0s to create a form, then a form to invent entirely new worlds. In recent years, her thinking about the binary has shifted towards an understanding of togetherness and connection and the respective relationship to the world around us. For this exhibition, she has embarked on a new series of paintings entitled The Sowers: St John’s Word, inspired by the reciprocity of nature, the intelligence and generosity of plants and, inevitably, the care that plants continually show us, which in turn calls for reciprocity and environmental responsibility. St. John’s wort, for example – found not only in SAP Space’s garden but also in the mountains and fields of the Pyrenees, where Broekhuysen has lived since 2019 – supports other living things with a range of health benefits for depression and anxiety, stress, nerve pain, wounds, menopause, viruses and bacteria. This is an ecological intelligence that is interwoven and relational, an intelligence that exists between species and things, made evident here through the artist’s awareness and curiosity, whose binary code dissolves into itself and offers itself again in the painting – an essence of the Gospel of John – where the parts of the binary code intertwine into something magnificent, namely nature itself.
Gretta Louw’s speculative, generative and research-based art practice works across disciplines and against categorisation. In the single-channel video work A Giant Swarm, Louw weaves inspirations from Donna Harraway, Ursula le Guin, John Muir, Cixin Liu and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing into her own narrative, offering a paradigm shift in perspective beyond the human. This speculative sci-fi proposal embraces anarcho-feminist ideals and celebrates the thriving network of life forms that inventively adapt in a post-anthropocentric ecosystem. The intricate web of sensitive symbioses reveals the interwoven connections and unpredictable responses to intervention. Our current situation is a powerful reminder of humanity’s limited control over the forces of nature and the lack of care and ethics in our collective future thinking. Quantum entanglement, another central theme in Louw’s practice – the interconnectedness and inseparability of particles across time and space – offers a way to imagine a future shaped by intelligences beyond our own. Intelligences that are ancient, embodied and symbiotic. “What would it mean to build artificial intelligences and other machines that are more like octopuses, more like mushrooms, or more like forests?”
Stefanie Loveday works across media to reinterpret encroached landscapes. She often uses field recordings, audio, video, photography and performance to reinterpret the intertwining of natural and human-intervened landscapes and to use technology to foster new imaginaries. For this exhibition, she will develop a site-specific and generative work on site, centred on the invasive tree species Ailanthus altissima – Tree of Heaven – located in the SAP garden. By documenting and reinterpreting its acoustic qualities, the work will explore mimicry and reinterpretation as a mode of enchantment. Surrounding with evocations, captivating with sounds, falling for a wonderful chorus, sweeping along on a sonic current, can also evoke new ideas, perspectives and identities. In an enchanting hook, sense becomes nonsense and then a new sense of things. The chorus “turns back on itself, opens on itself, reveals hitherto unheard-of possibilities, enters into other contexts, lets [things] … drift towards other assemblages”.
The exhibition will evolve and transform during its run – it will emerge slowly, without a clear beginning, and dissolve gradually, without a fixed end date, with different moments of togetherness and intensity during its run, with events, performances and discussions. The exhibition is located in the garden of SAP Space in Berlin’s Neukölln district. This location is intended to expand the discourse and potential of the garden. The garden is an effective site of exploration for the exhibition – it is a mediated natural space that requires constant attention and care, suggesting the intertwining of nature and culture and the role we play in nature, both positively and negatively, and raising the question of whether we can foster a more ethical dynamic through our curiosity, wonder and enthusiasm for the world around us.
Opening reception: 18. August, from 18:00 until 21:30 hrs
Performance: by Sage Thrashers
Berlin Art Week BBQ: 13. September from 19:00 Uhr
Reading: by Gretta Louw (date and time to be announced.
Visits outside these events by appointment only)