Tobačna 001, Ljubljana
05 December 2019 – 15 January 2020
The exhibition Aquatic Twilight_Lygophilia presents a series of projects titled Lygophilia, which Robertina Šebjanič started in 2017 to thematise two unusual creatures, the Mexican axolotl and the Slovenian proteus, and their love (Gr.: philéō) of darkness (Gr.: lúgē). What these fascinating water animal species inhabiting two different continents have in common is that not only they hide from the light, but they also serve as examples of parallel evolution and endemism. The only natural habitat of axolotl is the swampy parts of the lake complex surrounding Mexico City, whereas proteus can only be found in Europe in the underground caves of the Dinaric Karst. Accordingly, they have adapted to the specific conditions of their habitats, which have undergone drastic changes due to human interference through excessive hunting, the introduction of non-native species, and above all pollution in the last fifty years. As a result, axolotl and proteus are now on the list of endangered animal species and the survival of both predators, which once occupied the top of the food pyramid, is becoming increasingly questionable.
Axolotl and proteus are distinguished for their longevity and even more so for their extraordinary regenerative abilities and they maintain eternal youth even in adulthood. These characteristics have made them the protagonists of ancient myths, part of cultural heritage, the national symbols of Mexico and Slovenia, respectively, and they have also put them at the centre of high-tech scientific research, where it should be borne in mind that the majority of living axolotls are now bred in laboratories.
On display were a spatial installation Neotenous dark dwellers_Lygophilia, the video essay Piscis ludicrous / Transfixed Gaze_Lygophilia, the sound composition Black Drops_Lygophilia, and the newly produced work Odorantur_Lygophilia, with which the artist takes the viewer into the Proteus’ environment by triggering various sensory perceptions. Life and evolution in the darkness raises the question as to how proteus can perceive space and how it orientates in it. As an animal species whose eyes have become degenerate for no use of sight, it heightened other senses, including smell. Water pollution therefore causes not only the accumulation of toxic substances in its body, but it also robs it from another way of perceiving the environment, hinders its communication with other species, and prevents it from detecting its prey.
Robertina Šebjanič: Aquatic Twilight_Lygophilia, 2020
exhibition of the Lygophilia Series 2017-
Author: Robertina Šebjanič
Produced by: Muzej in galerije mesta Ljubljana
Coprouction: Zavod Projekt Atol (for it Uroš Veber)
Curator and text: Alenka Trebušak
Special thanks: Tular Cave Laboratory
The project was developed with support form the City of Ljubljana, Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Public Affairs.
Robertina Šebjanič’s work revolves around the biological, chemical, political and cultural realities of aquatic environments and explores humankind’s impact on other species and on the rights of non-human entities, while calling for strategies emphatic towards other species to be adopted. In her analysis of the theoretical framework of the Anthropocene, the artist uses the term ‘aquatocene’ and ‘aquaforming’ to refer to humans’ impact on aquatic environments.
Robertina Šebjanič (SI) based in Ljubljana. Her art – research focus is since several years into cultural, (bio)political, chemical and biological realities of aquatic environments, which serves as a starting point to investigate and tackle the philosophical questions on the intersection of art, technology and science.Her ideas and concepts are often realized in collaboration with others, through interdisciplinary and informal integration in her work. She was awarded with Honorary Mention @Prix Ars Electronica 2016, STARTS2020 and STARTS2016 nomination and nomination for the White Aphroid award. Robertina was SHAPE platform 2017 artist. 2018 she was a resident artist at Ars Electronica (EMARE / EMAP). Her art work Aurelia 1+Hz / proto viva generator (artist proof) is since 2019 part of the the BEEP Electronic Art Collection, Spain.
She exhibited / performed at solo and group exhibitions as well as in galleries and festivals: Ars electronica Linz, Kosmica festival_ Laboratorio Arte Alameda_Mexico City, La Gaîté Lyrique_ Paris, Le Cube_Paris, MONOM_ CTM Berlin, Art Laboratory Berlin, ZKM_Karlsruhe, re:publica_Berlin, Mladi Levi_Ljubljana, Centro de Cultura Digita_ Mexico City, Piksel_Bergen, OSMO/ZA_Ljubljana, Device art 5.015 at Klovičevi dvori_Zagreb, Eastern Bloc_Montreal, Eyebeam_New York, PORTIZMIR#3_ Izmir, Kiblix festival_Maribor, Spektrum_Berlin, KIKK festival_ Namur, +MSUM (Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova)_Ljubljana and more …