We are still alive, like hydrogen and oxygen was a group exhibition at Sala de Arte Joven in Madrid that took place between 28 March and 19th May 2019, curated by Alejandro Alonso Díaz.
The exhibition takes its title from a phrase in Christina Sharpe’s book In The Wake, based on a mental image described by the author ‘during the history of slavery, thousands of bodies were thrown into the ocean, being devoured by sea creatures’, a genealogy with which Sharpe finds a parallel in whale fall. Whale fall is a biological phenomenon in which the remains of dead whales drift down into the deep sea and are devoured by other forms of sea life, generating complex ecosystems around their bodies. Similarly, the atoms of enslaved people continue dispersed across the oceans, supporting the ecosystem of our global economy: “still alive, like hydrogen and oxygen”.
This sample, curated by Alejandro Alonso Díaz, approaches the relations of interdependence that define our social ecosystems. An exploration about the various types of ecology that exist between live and inert materials, and that cross through biological, cultural and economic structures within a globalised and ultra-connected society. Alfonso’s work sits alongside that of other artists who share strong sensorial components that reflect their concerns about transcending the ways in which culture, museums and society are built around forms of identity.
As a form of polyphonic response about ideas of parasitism, mutation, depredation and symbiosis, connected by the flows and displacements of the oceanic medium, We are still alive, like hydrogen and oxygen visibilises these relations of interdependency, and proposes a reflection about the connections between the mass extinction of ecosystems and the hegemony of western rationalism in which the ocean appears as an allegorical interlocutor that interrupts and darkens a continuous narrative node of histories, technologies and bodies.
The work presented, Oviscapto” Ethyl, is a modular installation formed by 5 acrylic tubes that contain the masticated wax with the remains of honey and saliva from the collective action marentus’’ where an optical beehive was ingested to liberate the photographic plate exposed 587 days to the bees life. The wax remains are in a state of fermentation generated by the saliva enzymes that break the long stability of one of the best preservings in nature: honey.