lygophilia / transfixed gaze

lygophilia / transfixed gaze

new project in development – premiere at Transitio_MX festival in Mexico City, 23 – 28 September 2017

SHORT TEXT (scroll down for long text)

To be a thing at all – a rock, a lizard, a human – is to be in a twist.
How thought longs to twist and turn like the serpent poetry!
Timothy Morton (Dark Ecology)

The lygophilia / transfixed gaze ​encourages viewers to reflect on new (ecological) realities in the time of the Anthropocene. It intervenes into environments and discusses ecology in order to establish the extent of substantial changes in ecosystem. It explores if and how we are able to perceive the parameters of ecological needs of other species in the times of dark ecology.

The mythology and scientific facts, merged with popular culture, invite audience to gain a more profound view of (inter)species’ cohabitation. Since the end of the 19 th century the number of Axolotls has increased, however, in laboratories, where they are examined for their biological advantages of their perpetual youth. On the other hand humans are the cause for (imminent) extinction of Axolotls in their natural habitat. The lakes surrounding Mexico City, where Axolotls originally live(d) in the darkness of the swamps, are losing the symbol which connects the future with the past.

The project thus opens the questions: Who observes whom? Who is seen as a monster and who is perceived as an optical illusion?

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Credits

(not final credits yet as project is still in research / development phase)

Author: Robertina Šebjanič
Assistance and consultancy: Roberto Rojas Madrid

Consultancy / Special thanks:
Miha Colner (Sektor), Gregor Aljančič (Tular Cave Laboratory), El Laboratorio de Restauración Ecológica UNAM, Arte+Ciencia UNAM University, María Antonia González Valerio, Sarah Hermanutz, Annick Bureaud, Ale de la Puente, Ida Hiršenfelder, Kristijan Tkalec (Rampa Lab)

+ more organizations and individuals involved in the conservation of Axolotl at its natural environment (full credits of all the collaborators will be updated – as the project is still in development and it will premiered at the Transitio_MX festival between 23 – 28 September 2017 in Mexico City)

Curated by Pedro Soler (Transitio_MX)

Production support:
Projekt Atol, Ministry of culture of Republic of Slovenia, Transitio_MX

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LONG TEXT:

 

To be a thing at all – a rock, a lizard, a human – is to be in a twist.
How thought longs to twist and turn like the serpent poetry!
Timothy Morton (Dark Ecology)

Progress means: humanity emerges from its spellbound state no longer under the spell of progress as well, itself nature, by becoming aware of its own indigenousness to nature and by halting the mastery over nature through which nature continues its mastery.                                                                                       Theodor Adorno

 

The project lygophilia / transfixed gaze showcases the Axolotl through different narratives:

– as a species that is facing extinction in natural environment;

– as a subject of scientific research considering its fascinating regenerative abilities;

– as a cultural imperative that helps to understand bridge between the past and future.

 

The project lygophilia / transfixed gaze encourages viewers to rethink the concept of new (ecological) realities in the time of Anthropocene. It intervenes into environments and discusses ecology in order to shed light to the extent of substantial changes in the ecosystem and how these affect the existence of a single species and their effect on the entire habitat?

The mythology and scientific facts, merged with popular culture, invite viewers to understand the life of (inter)species’ cohabitation more profoundly. In the short story entitled ‘Axolotl’ by Julio Cortázar’s, the narrator is transfixed. He experiences his own metamorphosis transforming into Axolotl: “I stayed watching them for an hour and left, unable to think of anything else”.

The atmospheric, audio-visual performance (installation) by Ljubljana-based artist Robertina Šebjanič thus offers distorted view of the Axolotls, while the viewer is still restricted to experience the transfer that Cortázar writes about. However, the project tends to challenge the perception of Axolotls and to restore the relationship of humankind with its natural environment. It explores if and how we are able to perceive the parameters of ecological needs of other species the times of dark ecology.

The extinction of Axolotls in their natural habitat, caused by human intervention, is ongoing; it takes place on a daily basis. The lakes surrounding Mexico City, where Axolotls originally live(d) in darkness of the swamps, are losing the symbol which connects past and future.

The complete extinction of Axolotls in the wilderness could also wipe out important indications which are very useful for environmentalists and scientists studying their perplex traits. Since the end of the 19th century numbers of Axolotls has increased, however, only in laboratories. There they have been bred and raised successfully as laboratory specimens having been a subject of investigation due to their extraordinary biological ability to regrow severed limbs, gills or tails as well as to make head transplants. Experiments using Axolotls as specimens help scientists understand principles of regeneration and aging. The quest to unlock their secrets which hide in very principles of their complex organisms have captivated human minds for centuries.

Axolotls have very rare amphibian capacity to grow into adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis and therefore live in an everlasting adolescent stage. They are the model species resonating with desires of humans who long for perpetual youth. Therefore it is almost impossible for humankind to see Axolotls as they are – animals in the process of inevitable extinction. Instead of being common residents in the laboratories where they are investigated for their mysterious biological advantages, Axolotls are characterized for their strong cultural references – as mysterious creatures that never age.

Therefore the artist questions different aspects of their existence. Who observes whom? Who is perceived as a monster and who is perceived as an optical illusion? It is highly important to explore ecosystems as well as to understand (bio)political systems that reflect on current society.