Exhibition, General Public, October 2007
With: Helen Cho, Are Mokkelbost, Kim Hiorthøy, Markus Fiedler, Götz Holborn, Jan Rohlf.

The exhibition Antidrom presented six artists who investigate into the mutual exchange processes between natural science and popular culture.

Picking up ideas and aesthetics from science, and contaminating them – in a pop-cultural manner – with subjective and irrational elements, they place a complementary impulse, which opposes natural science’s myth of the complete pervasion and control of nature, but without condemning rationality as such. Thus they operate in close proximity to the dystopian scenarios of Science Fiction, Horror and Mystery. The «from myth to logos» of science thereby is not simply inverted into a «from logos to myth». Rather the works of these artist aim to render the relationality and inverseability of the rational and the irrational visible in the form of its ciphers «Science» and «popular culture» respectively «mysticism». In the shown works processes of constant uncontrolled transformation take place between these two poles. Liquefaction, decomposition, and disaggregation as well as proliferation and growth are the accordantly frequent used motifs of these metamorphoses.

The term «antidrome» or «antidromal», taken from natural science, means «against the physiological direction of an anatomical structure» – for example against the normal direction of a nerve from the body centre to the extremities, or the rotation of the basic helix of a plant’s branch in the opposite direction than the one of its stipe.

«Antidrom» thus describes a form of movement, that is defined in opposition to another movement that is referred to as norm – for example as antidromal impulse within the scheme of stimulus and response. The antidromal impulse does not extinguish the one, which lead to its release, rather both impulses are reciprocal movements. The same can be said on the relation of the rational and the irrational. The encounter with the irrational is constitutive for the determination of the rational itself. The pleasure of the irrational thus might also be a reaction towards too much rationality – and the other way round. The artist’s attempt to «re-enchant» the world, «de-mystified» by analytical science, through injecting subjective, fictional and imaginary elements, therefore is – as a mirror and liberating disruption in a normative regime – by far less irrational as the first impression might suggest.

The theory of evolution by natural selection has long exceeded the boundaries of biology – the in- and transcription processes it undergoes within society and popular culture are the central themes of Canadian artist Helen Cho. Her drawings, executed with ballpoint pen on pink leatherette, intertwine motifes taken from popular science fiction cinema, science magazines, paleoanthropology, Renaissance paintings and primatology propose alternative readings of evolutionary science, its history and popular appropriation. Central concepts, such as hierarchy, competition, nationalism, and gender within Cho’s images are rendered visible as fields of tension between science, politics and cultural imagination.

The collages of Norwegian artist and musician Are Mokkelbost – known to some through a memorable performance with avantgarde-metal-band Kill at club transmediale 2005 – unveil a wondrous world of material metamorphosis. Mokkelbost’s collages - meticulously constructed from source material appropriated from glossy fashion and lifestyle magazines – turn both, the natural laws of modern science and the logic of pre-science alchemy upside down: instead of refining nature elements into cultural valuables, here cultural surplus material is transformed into nature.

The piece «Uroborus« by Berlin artist Maverick depicts the mythological symbol of the self-devouring serpent, biting its own tail to form a circle, as a zoological preparation. Passed down from archaic cultures the Uroborus symbol represents the eternal cycle of life and death and the primordial unity before the formation of opposites. Alchemists believed the Uroborus to depict the constant transformation of the material world, but above all the antagonism between destructive self-reflectivity and static self-sufficiency. Thus the Uroborus became the dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, for the unification of the conscious and the unconscious mind. Thus, Maverick’s piece in an ambiguous way alludes to contradictions found within the concepts of modern science as within individual self-perception.

Within the piece of Jan Rohlf science schemes and graphs are arranged to form a large multipartite tableau, which refers to the Wunderkammer of late Renaissance and its cipher, the sphere. Freed from all explicit information and striped down to their pure aesthetic composition, the drawings evoke notions from natural science, technics and art. Radiating both, rational elegance and mysterious ambiguity they point out to the «wondrous- and to the aesthetic ambition contained within science’s quest for knowledge.

The drawings of Norwegian artist and musician Kim Hiorthøy make up complex organic entities, overlapping motives and shapes from everyday life, science fiction, comic books, urban sceneries and nature. They depict fragmented and instable worlds within which any distinction between reality and imagination has been abolished and different zones of consciousness coexist in an uncanny way. At General Public Hiorthøy shows a series of new sculptures, which can be either read as schematic miniature landscapes, geographic topologies or as object materializations of science graphs. At the same time they appear to inherit a totemistic value – as objects of evocation, altars or visualizations to mark the modern urbanite’s desire for nature. Thus they equally could be a magical connection bond or a surrogate to nature.

Markus Fiedler explicitly refers to forms of magic thinking. His object is totem, coat of arms, devotional image and icon at the same time. An eagle, symbol of imperial power, decomposes and melts into a kind of proliferating ulcer cancer. The destructive force of uncontrolled transformation here appears not only as the existential threat of illness, disintegration and death, but also as a liberating force of anarchic change and subversive imagination.