Paratext #38 by Lara García Díaz

Paratext #38
October 22, 2019
By Lara García Díaz

Jhouyu Hsieh (Institutional residence Taipei)
Consol LLupià (Short stay residency)
Shaotong He (Exchange scholarship Baden-Württemberg – Catalunya)
Simon Pfeffel (Exchange scholarship Baden-Württemberg – Catalunya)


If I were to consider a title for this text, curiously enough, it would be Paratext. A text that accompanies other already enunciated bodies, that indicates possible frames of orientation, or that walks hand in hand with other materials to configure third interpretations. The words that follow function within these parameters; as transition zones, as thresholds of mediation between bodies or as interpretative choruses between the utterances that resounded in Paratext no. 38 in Hangar and what I have decided to rescue.

One of these bodies could be that of the island Ses Rates -or the Redona Island, as they call it-, a small island that stood in the bay of Maó in Menorca and its scaly reptile inhabitant scientifically
catalogued as Podarcis lilfordi rodriquezi. The artist Jhouyu Hsieh uses a video with his image and voice to explain in Patterns of Extinct Life how it was when in 1935 the island Ses Rates was
dynamited to facilitate the navigation of large ships and cruise ships in the bay of Maó, leaving the island and any kind of life that inhabited it extinct. The reptile of the Pitiüses and the black redstart, one of the only surviving species of the Pliopleistocene fauna of the Balearic Islands, of which the Podarcis lilfordi rodriquezi form’s part, became almost extinct during the Holocene, coinciding with the settlement of “human” bodies on the islands. The most probable cause of extinction was the pressure exerted by predators introduced by these bodies, among which we must mention cats, martens and weasels. The final extinction of Podarcis lilfordi rodriquezi, of which four specimens are preserved today in museum collections, also corresponds to the current epoch of the Quaternary period in terrestrial history, or what Rosi Braidotti comes to call the convergence of the fourth industrial revolution and the sixth mass extinction instigated by the subjects incarnated in the body of “man”.

The capture of reptiles as pets to be kept in terrariums on the islands themselves, or for illegal sale and export, has been another obvious threat to many of these populations. The fascination with preserving, domesticating or cataloguing other subjects in bodies that are not properly understood as a “man” can be found as early as the 14th century, when signs of a human-animal relationship that still haunts us today are developed and left behind. It is later, in the Modern Age, when zoos began to be inaugurated, such as the one in Vienna in
1765. The Barcelona Zoo, however, was inaugurated 127 years later, in 1892. The artist Consol Llupià uses her voice, her body and a suitcase that has just arrived from New York to immerse us in a journey that takes us to one of the symbols of the Barcelona Zoo: the whale skeleton that was exposed at the entry of Wellington Street. What has happened to this body displayed in cetacean shape? 36 years after its body was found stranded on the beach of El Prat, in 1983, and was moved and decomposed in Barcelona, the zoo decided to retrieve the skeleton of the cetacean to a forgotten warehouse in 2018 because of its poor state of preservation. “The Whale of El Prat in El Prat” is positioned as a slogan of protest and as an interesting act of communication between extinct bodies, or simply dissimilar ones, in which Consol asks with inaudible frequencies for the human ear to his cetacean companion if he wants, at last, to return home.

From the extinct, or from the ambiguous cataloguing of different bodies and their forms of hierarchization through the eyes and the desire of “man”, we move on, in the hands of the artist
Shaotong He, to recall what is indispensable for the subsistence of incarnated bodies: food. From melon with wine to potato omelette, Shaotong He unfolds a horizontal scheme in which he shows ten recipes that he has been collecting during his short stay in Hangar. Each recipe seems to have guided him to the enunciation of future artistic proposals that use, in most cases, uses humor as a starting point, sitting with his back turned, he shows us photographs of his culinary results and tries to establish some kind of schematic logic to defend a circular communication that includes the audience, the institution and his own work.

Next, artist Simon Pfeffel places a kind of skeleton-shaped apparatus at the entrance of the room and emphasizes how his practice wishes to activate the body of the receiver while relegating the
major responsibility to the latter. Trust, resistance or discomfort are the keys that link his work and the hinges that articulate his proposal in this session. Just as Consol asks the whale of El Prat if he wants to go home, Simon directly communicates his desire to go home. Therefore, he asks us to participate in a kind of ritual or pilgrimage in which, thanks to the collaboration between the bodies in the room, Simon goes around the island levitating off the ground. But in a moment, as I observe the capacity for action and collaboration between the different embodied subjects, the circular body of the extinct Ses Rates island comes to mind, the dark and bright colors of its reptilian inhabitants, and the low sound frequencies with which the 19-meter-long cetacean seems to keep communicating. I also think, while tasting the potato omelet offered by Shaotong He at the end of the session, of the feeling of belonging of the bodies, of the lack of protection and vulnerability of species in collapsing ecosystems, or of their capacity for cognitive communication beyond any schematization. Returning home, I realize the urgency of devising alternative forces capable of mobilizing aspirations for collective and shared freedoms, respect for biodiversity, and policies anchored in everyday life. An approach, as Gilles Deleuze indicates, to the production of empowering models of becoming that help us little by little to understand diverse forms of sharing and communication between different bodies that existed, became extinct or continue to exist in
diverse forms.

Categories: Paratext report |

Cookies: We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. If you continue to browse you are giving your consent to the acceptance of the aforementioned cookies and acceptance of our cookie policy. ACEPTAR

Aviso de cookies