River Biographies 2023.10.28 - 2023.11.26 Chronus Art Center
ARTISTS Lundahl & Seitl
Chronus Art Center
2nd Floor, Building 11, No.50 Mo Gan Shan Rd, Shanghai
11 am – 6 pm (last entry 5:30 pm)
Wednesdays – Sundays
Chronus Art Center (CAC) is pleased to present River Biographies by the Swedish artist duo Lundahl & Seitl as the concluding part of the second iteration of CAC Projects. River Biographies will open on October 28, 2023 and remain on view through November 26, 2023.
The title of this project River Biographies refers to the story of a river's life from its source to its mouth. The artwork per se is also a dynamic process during which meaning emerges as each visitor becomes a node within an extensive web of relationships and influences in an evolving semiosis. A silent and sensory protest developed in the work is inspired by the grammar of the Potawatomi people, North American natives living in what is now northeastern Wiscosin, U.S. Their language emphasises on verbs, with the word 'river' in Potawatomi serving as a verb, signifying 'to be a river.’ Resisting the notion of autonomous artworks and of looking at environmental changes solely as external objects, River Biographies invite visitors to augment their own reality and evoke the lifeworld of a river within and between their bodies.
The exhibition at CAC consists of two layers. During its exhibition timeframe, River Biographies encompasses occasional participatory performances - where visitors are invited to experience a Work in Progress of River Biographies sensory choreography. The second layer takes a more discursive approach in the form of an installation emphasizing the project's research.
The Immersive layer emphasises how the project transmutes traditional boundaries between exhibition and artmaking where there is no absolute separation or classical objectivity regarding the experience within the exhibition. Based on two individuals' inter-intra action within and with a larger group, visitors are leading each other by the hand, they move together, but Sightless Goggless and different timelines of three-dimensional sound separate their experiences. Each visitor enacts a different part in the artwork's choreography: You are Water, I am Stone. They engage in the friction between the materials, between visual and auditory organs and nerves of the skin, and depend on each other's perspectives to form a coherent reality - blurring the boundaries between the material body, self and environment. Noticing the water and stone elements in their own body, encourages visitors to see the river ( their environment ) not as an object separate from themselves but as something intimately connected to their own existence.
River Biographies, performance view, 2022 © Lundahl & Seitl
Written in the language of embodiment, River Biographies reinterpret the medium of exhibitions as inter-subjective processes, Visitors augment their own reality to evoke the lifeworld of a river directly within and between their bodies inside the gallery. By following a choreographical score in wireless headphones, groups of up to a hundred participants conjure the elements of water and stone in their own bodies to form an imagined river between visual and auditory organs and nerves of the skin. This shift in perspective encourages visitors to see the river as not just an object separate from themselves but as something intimately connected to their own existence. It is a collective practice that fosters a sense of embodied kinship - not only with the river's ecology but also with inanimate entities often relegated to mere objects of exploitation.
In a kinship, not only with the river's ecology but also with inanimate entities such as Water and Stone that are often relegated to mere objects of exploitation, River Biographies incorporates a polyphony of different, more than human, perspectives within individual experiences. This is a process to expand Hanna Arendt's notion of “common sense.” Collectively, the group is becoming a river, and from that perspective, they extend into alliances with entities, such as microbes, machines, weather systems, and entire landscapes, down to elementary particles.
Water studies around Tabergs An by the artists duo，2023 © Lundahl & Seitl
In the exhibition, the real and the imagined negotiating between the visitors via a notion of virtual reality - not as a form of technology but Embodiment, as a medium, can access levels of reality where conventional strategies of understanding and rationalisation become insufficient. It moves the framing of technology within environmental aesthetics from a "data dump" mode of replication of numbers and statistics related to anthropogenic climate change to the concept of "geo-affect," coined by Jane Bennett, emphasizing the role of affective relationships with the environment and material world in shaping political and ethical commitments.
River Biographies aim for a deep connection between the artwork, a local river, and a local community - continuously learning from all the rivers and human interpreters that flow through its body. Like the global water cycles, the work carries memories from previous rivers preserved in the artwork's choreography that are carried further and contaminated with the next commission. The exhibition at CAC survey the working process and research of River Biographies, a location-sensitive series of artworks made in co-production with festivals, biennales, art centres and museums situated by rivers and other water bodies around the Earth.
More information about the performance and its schedule will be released soon. Please stay in tune with our website and WeChat subscription account CAC新时线媒体艺术中心。
River Biographies is commissioned and supported by Southbank Centre, London. The first location-sensitive adaptation of River Biographies is for River Thames, May 2025.
About the Artists
© Lundahl & Seitl. Photo: Thron Ullberg
Lundahl & Seitl live and work in Stockholm. Their immersive solo projects reinterpret the medium of the exhibition as interpersonal processes via choreography, matter and time. Presented around the world, notably at Royal Academy of Art in 2014, Gropius-Bau in 2016, and Kunstmuseum Bonn in 2017. Group Exhibitions include the 8th Momentum Biennale of Nordic Contemporary Art 2015 (NO), An Imagined Museum at Centre Pompidou Metz 2016-2017 (FR), the 3rd Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016-2017 (IN), and a recent commission: Echoes of Alternative Histories at Staatsteater Kassel, which coincided with Documenta Fifteen. In the fall of 2022, the duo was visiting artists at the ACT Programme at MIT.
The duo Lundahl & Seitl have developed a method and an art form comprising staging, choreographed movement, instructions, and immersive technologies, juxtaposed with material objects and the human ability to organize perception into a world. Notions of freedom, autonomy, and what is real, imagined, and perceived are negotiated in an investigation of virtual reality, not as a form of technology but as an ability or sensibility to a relationship with surroundings, with increased insight into how technology makes ‘us’ and lays the ground for the human umwelt – how it connects and disconnects us from each other and other life forms and processes.
Their research is tacit, neuro-diverse, and heuristic. It relies on intuition in an iterative process of allowing concepts, theories and stories to meet the resistance of the physical world via sensory experience, direct observations and listening - often in collaborations with others, such as philosophers, anthropologists, writers, game-engine programmers, neurologists, politicians, curators, as well as the public. Projects are often perennial and develop into series that sometimes fork out into entirely new works. The practice encompasses curation, gallery exhibitions, site-sensitive solo projects, and collective performances in public spaces.