Reconstructing Eden at Art Capital

– international video art review

This year, the video art review organized annually by the French-Swiss curator duo of Paul Ardenne and Barbara Polla is held at the ArtMill in Szentendre, within the framework of Art Capital 2018. As their central theme, the featured video works focus on the relationship between the human being and nature: the global effects of – and ecological questions raised by – human interventions, as well as the rediscovery and possible rebuilding of Paradise Lost.

The exhibition is characterized by an atmosphere of deep harmony and serenity. The screens hanging at eye-height on the walls of the Mill space, which is filled with nooks and crannies, show majestic, pristine landscapes uninhabited by humans: the icebergs of the polar region, the depths of the ocean and seemingly endless forests. Fish swim in sync with the slow movement of the water, we catch fleeting glimpses of animals appearing and disappearing in harmony with the pulsating rhythms of the forest. Human beings who seek to penetrate as pioneers these realms ruled by nature – be it by boat or motorcycle – have no choice but to act in a cooperative manner and regard themselves as tiny particles surrounded by immenseness. The artistic expressions of ecological awareness range from surrealism and minimalistic beauty to practicality. We see Miguel Angel Ríos’s transparent cubes levitating in a red-sanded, desolate plateau and Janet Biggs’s Mars simulation with a graphic artist wearing a space suit in a desert in Utah. The stream of water, projected onto the stairs of the ArtMill as it trickles upward in the direction of the Fountain of Life, is a sight specific installation by Gianluigi Maria Masucci. Ursula Biemann’s video presents a researcher’s measurement results pertaining to a period of the Subatlantic Age, twelve thousand years ago, at the end of the last ice age. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we can sneak a peek through Ali Kazma’s camera into the Safe where samples are kept of every single type of seed known to humanity. While the exhibition reminds us of the power and self-destructive forces of nature, it also offers us various paths out of this frightening situation: Eden can be rebuilt.

The exhibition, just as all other exhibitions of Art Capital 2018, is on view until 2 September.