Being A Vertebrate
4 September – 11 October 2020
Breaks are either necessary, intentional or forced interruptions, whether that of human activities or of operational functions of machines or other organisms. They foster regeneration and healing, while often also serving as an economical survival strategy. Beyond hibernation as a seasonal mechanism for reducing energy demands, certain animals can enter a dormant state of diapause, a period of arrested activity that enables an organism to overcome periods of unfavorable climate. In periods of extreme drought, the turquoise killifish (lat. Nathobranchius furzeri) native to East Africa can reduce their energy requirements in the embryonic state to such a degree that their development is halted and the aging process is suspended — a standstill that can last for several months or years until the onset of redemptive rainfall that allows them to continue in their development.
The dialectical relationship between growth and stagnation is reflected by the artist and choreographer Lina Hermsdorf in her performance and exhibition Being A Vertebrate, which she specifically conceived for Dortmunder Kunstverein. In addition to an engagement with the idea of the pause, another point of departure for the work is a consideration of the Kunstverein’s glass façade — a connecting membrane as well as a visualization of the impossibility of physical exchange between inside and outside. As an extension of Hermsdorf’s performance, the installation subsequently becomes part of a spatio-temporal process. Alongside minimal interventions into the Kunstverein’s lighting system, killifish will be on view in the exhibition space — in their diapause as well as their various stages of development.
For the performance, Lina Hermsdorf collaborates with the Malaysian-Chinese dancer Jessie Jing, whose biography is incorporated into the text and movement sequences of this new work. The appearance of the trained body of a dancer is here contrasted by injuries sustained within Jing’s practice of dance, as well as by other specific individual circumstances — a viral infection has left Jing with severely limited hearing in one ear. While the body, despite its resilience, is as the mercy of its own temporality, the exhibition space traditionally plays a role of conservation. In Hermsdorf’s arrangement however, the standard fluorescent-tubing exhibition lighting has been replaced with greenhouse grow lights, albeit illuminating an empty space devoid of plants. Growth-stimulating light beams into emptiness — a paradoxical state that Paul Virilio would refer to as dromological, a kind of frenetic standstill.
Lina Hermsdorf (*1985 in Hamburg, lives and works in London) graduated from the University of Gießen in Applied Theater Studies (Prof. Heiner Goebbels) and studied Fine Arts with Peter Fischli at Städelschule Frankfurt. Her conceptual spatial works and performances have been shown internationally, among others at the Block Universe Festival London (2016), Flat Time House London; Künstlerhaus Bremen; Kunstverein Freiburg (all 2017) as well as Kunstverein Braunschweig (2018). She has recently been artist in residence at Mahler&LeWitt Studios, Spoletto, Italy.
Jessie Jing (*1991 in Malaysia, lives in London) is a malaysian-chinesese performer, dancer and writer. She participated in projects internationally, mainly in Hong Kong, the UK and France, and currently finishes a post graduate Master in choreography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.
WED, 2 SEPTEMBER, 6:30 PM
WORK IN PROGRESS
During the installation of the show, Lina Hermsdorf and Jessie Jing will give an insight into the making of this exhibition, and are happy to answer your questions and get into conversation. For members and supporters of Dortmunder Kunstverein.
THU, 3 SEPTEMBER, 7 PM
OPENING & PERFORMANCE
Reception: Marion Edelhoff (Chair)
Introduction: Rebekka Seubert (Artistic Director)
Performance: Lina Hermsdorf and Jessie Jing
SAT, 5 SEPTEMBER, 2 PM
OPENING & PERFORMANCE
SUN, 19 SEPTEMBER, 4-9 PM
PUBLIC GUIDED TOURS, every hour as part of the 20th Dortmund DEW-21 Museumnight More information here
SAT, 27 SEPTEMBER, 3 PM
PUBLIC GUIDED TOUR
Exhibition tour with curator Rebekka Seubert
THU, 8 OCTOBER, 7 PM
LA DERNIÈRE SÉANCE #14
7 PM: GUIDED TOUR in dialogue: Rebekka Seubert and Biologist Dario Riccardo Valenzano (Max-Planck-Institut, Cologne)
8 PM: FILM at Kino im Dortmunder U: Donna Harraway: Story Telling For Earthly Survival (OV, 81 Min; 2016) a movie by Fabrizio Terranova
English language event
SUN, 11 OCTOBER, 4 PM
FINISSAGE + EXHIBITION TALK
Janina Loh (Institut für Philosophie, Universität Wien) in conversation with Lina Hermsdorf (artist), moderated by Rebekka Seubert
Kindly supported by