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☟In the beginning...☟

Research project, in production

A video made as part of a collaborative film during the exhibition ‘Sunkissed//Fog Off’ at Quartair (The Hague), curated by Maaike Gowenberg. The full film can be viewed here. Words written and spoken by Xenia Klein.

In the beginning... is a narrative-based experimental research project about tardigrades (otherwise known as moss piglets or water bears), the only animal known to have survived all five mass extinctions. Through various forms of written and material research I am constructing my own fictional universe where reverence is afforded to those most able to avoid extinction, and tardigrades become Chthonic goddesses. Taking its lead from traditions of mythological Creation Stories, the project can in fact be considered the inverse: an Extinction Story. It takes its point of departure from a curious incident in 2019 when a spacecraft carrying the Arch Lunar Library (a time capsule containing a microscopic library to represent all of humanity, designed to exist in space for billions of years) crashed on the moon, releasing a colony of tardigrades who were included as organic material in the time capsule. The heart of the project is a written fairytale that imagines the future lives of these tardigrades living on the moon, including their colossal growth until they too become the size of the moon. This enormous tardigrade moon becomes a symbol of worship for the humans back on Earth, although their reverence does little to help their inevitable demise.

Some initial material experiments for this project were shown in the exhibition ‘Sunkissed//Fog Off’ at Quartair, The Hague, curated by Maaike Gowenberg.

Images: Some experiments of installation presentations of the props/material explorations produced for The Reyhdrated Neo-Goddess. Flag made from hand-dyed and hand-embroidered cotton, mounted on fallen branches from the Dutch palatial gardens.

In summer 2022 I will be working on a commission for KOP at Stedelijk Museum Breda (NL) to construct an enormous moon sculpture in their garden. Over several months I will cultivate a garden of moss on the surface of the moon. Carefully transplanting the tardigrades living in the museum grounds onto the moon, I will create an optimal tardigrade ecosystem as a reparative act for those still stuck on the moon since 2019.

Image: a model moon sketch made from air drying clay and fake moss.

In autumn 2022 I will work on a commission for Art au Center, Liège (BE) to make a new sculptural work; an apocalyptic shop window display where the enigmatic message “as quietly as moss grows” will be written in a spiderweb.

I have been invited to present my ongoing research for this project as part of the Platform for Art Research in Collaboration (PARC), an experimental research platform that is being developed by The Royal Academy of Art (KABK) and The Royal Conservatoire (KC) in The Hague, and the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) of Leiden University. The platform is in development and will launch in 2022.