Centre d'Art Contemporain Geneve presents KLAT
KLAT: TENNESSEE WIGGLER THE BIG FAT WORM AKA LE LOMBRIC COSMIQUE
The Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève is pleased to announce KLAT's new solo show. On this occasion, the group will present 'TENNESSEE WIGGLER THE BIG FAT WORM AKA LE LOMBRIC COSMIQUE', a new installation specially designed for the display spaces within the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève.
This monumental sculpture represents a giant earthworm that spreads across the exhibition rooms. The project is freely inspired by the post-apocalyptic visions in J. G. Ballard's first four novels 'The Wind From Nowhere', 'The Drowned World', 'The Drought', and 'The Crystal World', which all base their storyline on natural disasters that devastate the planet.
In each room, a part of the worm's body is associated with one of Ballard's destructive natural elements: fire, air, or water. The earthworm also symbolically represents an ecological cycle. Around the animal's head, which is made up of an oven, floating pieces of bread are set on a giant mobile. At the other end, its tail exudes manure and dry cowpat, which could be used as combustibles for the oven.
The earthworm features several qualities that interest KLAT. From a practical perspective, the animal is essential to the ecosystem, through its function of soil ventilation and fertilisation. Besides, it represents 80 percent of the overall weight of terrestrial animals. It also has an increased survival capacity thanks to its multiple hearts, which allow its body to regenerate wherever it may be severed.
Symbolically speaking, the earthworm has the shape of a snake, whose figure is ambivalently connoted, both sacred and evil, in many cultures. The reptile is mentioned in the very title of the work, as it refers to anthropologist Jeremy Narby's 'The Cosmic Snake', which analyses the shamanic practices of certain Latin American ethnic groups. During ceremonies, some individuals under the influence of psychotropic plants are able to see forms reminding of DNA components, similar to the shape a reptile. KLAT also takes inspiration from alchemists' snake symbolism – the figure of Ouroboros. When the animal bites its tail, having neither beginning, nor end, it symbolises the 'Magnum Opus', an esoteric representation of the evolution towards perfection in nature. This vision of the alchemical transformation echoes biodegradation and life cycles. The manure at the tail of the installation is activated by an ecological process of compost decomposition through specific earthworms called Tennessee Wigglers. There is a mise en abyme between the sculpture's giant representation and the real worms in the manure.
The mouth of the sculpture is an oven made of mud and straw, an ancient baking method. By caricaturising an alternative to industrial food production, KLAT point at the food industry. The suspended breads on the mobile come near the giant worm's mouth. They are potential food, both for the monster and the visitors.
Both disgusting and fascinating, the cosmic earthworm offers food for thought about our human condition in a clinical industrial world. In his novels, Ballard focused on analysing how our capitalist society works, imagining its possible excesses through dystopias – fictional narratives of disaster. What would a human being be in a hostile and untameable nature similar to that described in these sci-fi novels? Which species would survive and how would they recover life cycles?
While KLAT's practice clearly belongs to the art world, their earmark is a combination of great accessibility and a strong awareness of political issues. With the 'TENNESSEE WIGGLER THE BIG FAT SQUIRM AKA LE LOMBRIC COSMIQUE', the KLAT group reaffirm their interest in suggesting alternative models of social organisation. They propose an eerie, disturbing object that reflects a crooked image of our future, and that paradoxically carries tangible alternatives for the consumer society.Beyond its environmental implication, the work also provides criticism of the art world. The cosmic earthworm is a sculpture that interferes with the institutional white cube and 'sullies' a space that is normally shielded from the outside world. It is intended in the first place to the citizen-viewer, and belongs to the history of institutional criticism, an element that is indivisible from KLAT's practice.
KLAT belong to a tradition that originates in Group Material's political practices, and in alternatives to the art market that were developed in the 1990s by Parasite's artists in New York. KLAT attended lessons with Julie Ault (co-founder of Group Material with Felix Gonzalez-Torres, amongst others), Nils Norman and Silvia Kolbowski, as part of the 'Sous-sol/CCC' workshop. Moreover, Nils Norman also presents a project for 'Utopia and the everyday. Between art and education', an exhibition that will be housed at the Centre's 2nd floor, while KLAT are shown simultaneously at the 3rd floor.
KLAT's practice varies between numerous site-specific interventions, curatorial projects including a wide array of artists – alternative or not – as well as festive and self-financed events. KLAT re-owns critical, socially-committed strategies, and adapts them to the particular environment of the alternative scene from Geneva, involving squats and often-fragile initiatives of self-managed culture. In this context, the 'TENNESSEE WIGGLER THE BIG FAT WORM AKA LE LOMBRIC COSMIQUE' has a particular meaning, both as a Leviathan and sole survivor.
Exhibition curator: Denis Pernet
The exhibition is generously supported by: Fonds d'art contemporain de la Ville de Genève (FMAC)
In partnership with Theillard Traiteur, Le Courrier, Pernod Ricard Swiss and Baboo
The Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève is supported by Ville de Genève