Alienation obviates living-space entanglement.
— Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, 2015
Water makes life on Earth possible. Yet clean water is becoming an increasingly scarce and aggressively privatised commodity across the globe. Meanwhile our sanitary system uses an abundance of water to flush human excrements out of sight and out of mind. What a waste!
Realisation of this contradiction, which hides in plain sight in the privileged lives of those with access to water closets, led the artist duo Harrie Liveart on a research journey that culminates in this exhibition. The everyday infrastructure of toilets not only points out the dilemmas concerning water, but also opens up a plethora of questions about unsustainable circulation of nutrients and value. The water closet makes tangible the alienation that fuels capitalist exploitation.
The artists have set out to challenge this alienation, drawing attention to cultural attitudes towards bodily processes and to the significance of more-than-human entanglements both within our bodies and wider ecosystems. The artworks in the exhibition map out the myriad paths of enquiry the artists have embarked upon in multidisciplinary and multispecies collaborations in the project Collective Perversions – Proposal for Revaluation since 2018. They have examined, for example, gendered imaginaries around human excrements, ethical digestive issues concerning the most exclusive coffee markets, and subversive personal and collective histories of toilet culture.
Alongside new works exhibited here for the first time, a number of site-specific art works, performances and ongoing processes are presented through research and archive material. They invite the audience to imaginatively participate in, amongst others, archeological excavation of the past and narration of alternative futures, field work excursion to the inner workings and leaky boundaries of our own metabolism, nightmare visions of anal data surveillance, and absurdist mysteries of urban waste management.
At the heart of Harrie Liveart’s practice is performative play with language, imagery and rituals, through which societal norms are not only reinforced but can also be unsettled and unveiled in both their mundane folly and violence. What is unsaid or unseen, silenced or shadowed, when something is deemed mere waste? What kind of freedoms this permits, and for whom?
Writer and researcher Taru Elfving
Part of Harrie Liveart’s solo exhibition is a sound installation by Ann Rosén and Sten-Olof Hellström.
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