Artist: Stine Deja
Exhibition title: Dawn Chorus
Curated by: Paola Paleari and Anne Zychalak Stolten
Venue: Vestjyllands Kunstpavillon, Videbæk, Denmark
Date: October 16 – November 14, 2021
Photography: Jacob Friis-Holm Nielsen / images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Vestjyllands Kunstpavillon
With her solo exhibition Dawn Chorus, Stine Deja presents a total installation speculating on possible life forms for future species. A series of identical sculptures is placed in an artificial pond built for the purpose. Via a path of industrial steel grids, the visitors can walk around the artworks and experience them as they would observe animals in a zoo, or inspect goods in a warehouse.
In between anthropomorphic creatures, intelligent machines and standardized everyday commodities, the sculptures are a hypothesis of a life configuration that still doesn’t exist, but builds upon codes embedded in our shared understanding of biological existence. For example, the baby stroller forming the base of the works represents infancy – a phase characterized by swift development – while the water in the pond hints at the amniotic fluid, where every new human life begins. Despite our many differences, water is what binds us together across countries, cultures and bodies; and, in this installation, maybe even across time, bringing us closer to an imaginable “tomorrow”.
The exhibition title references the natural phenomenon that occurs when birds sing at the start of a new day. Likewise, the machines here sing in chorus, as a symbol of something novel lurking ahead. Even if they don’t look like anything we can recognize, they form a community, communicate, and perform rituals that we can seize similar to our own social habits. As the classical scholar C.M. Bowra put it, the choral song is one of the most popular means of collective expression in primitive societies. It therefore is, to some degree, the voice of the common consciousness, of what a whole society feels on certain occasions.
Dawn Chorus picks up on previous works by Stine Deja which explore the cryogenic freezing of human bodies after their clinical death, with the speculative hope that resurrection may one day become practicable. Presently, there are about 400 corpses on the frost, waiting for a technological breakthrough and thus the realization of man’s oldest dream: a second life after the last breath is exhaled. In the installation at Vestjyllands Kunstpavillon, the ice has thawed into a pool of water: the temperature has risen and the new day has already begun.
The exhibition is supported by The Danish Arts Foundation. The VK contemporary art program 2021-2022 is curated by Paola Paleari and Anne Zychalak Stolten and supported by Det Obelske Familiefond and The Danish Arts Foundation.