I’ve been honoured to be commissioned to write the text for a new sculptural exhibition by Swedish artists David Ohlsson and Dit-Cilinn. The exhibition, Hibernaculum, is at the Cecilia Hillström Gallery in Stockholm, opening this Thursday 23 February and running until 1 April.

An extract from the gallery mailout:

The duo Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn has collaborated in exploring human existence and spirituality through elaborate objects, installations, and performances since 2009. With a unique attention to detail and a skilful combination of materials, their work is a negotiation between present day urban life and a desire for something transcendent. The exhibition evolves around the concept of a hibernaculum or an incubator – a place for rest, introspective meditation and transformation. It consists of site-specific installations and sculptures. The works are physical poems which unite the primeval with the futuristic; a holistic forward-thinking approach combined with a responsiveness which may be found in animistic cultures. The exhibition presents human beings as a part of nature, playing an active role in their own evolution. In Hibernaculum, the past is a living foundation which is constantly recreated.

And from my text:

So we find ourselves… Wandering the labyrinth. Constantly grappling with alien familiarity, constructions utterly beyond us which emerged from our fellow creatures. Grateful and thrilled with awareness when our attention opens to a trace of non-human sentience – scurrying, or creeping, or rooted and implacable. Later, wondering in numbness if there is non-human sentience after all. Then a shiver of the uncanny when a machine manages to replicate the signs of sentience. Then acceptance. Boredom.

And soon, machines begin to nudge us towards tricksy ontological thresholds. Was that just the signs of sentience? Just replication? Can they be told apart from the ‘actual’ subjectivity we assume in humans? Does it matter? Echoing archaic animism, this new world may be governed less by metaphysical speculation, and more by the pragmatics of relationship.

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