JULIA STOSCHEK COLLECTION (JSC), an extensive private collection of time-based media hidden away in residential Dusseldorf, opened a satellite space in Berlin in June 2016. The slightly smaller Northern German venue does not hold back JSC’s edgy, conceptual trademark – the results are still comprehensive exhibitions with a strong research foundation. Its current show, Jaguars and Electric Eels, is no exception, and while it displays a markedly new form of media by contemporary artists, JSC draws from its 700-work rich collection to address a historical concept that hasn’t quite stayed in the past.
Doug Aitken, Kader Attia, Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, Bill Viola and Guan Xiao, among many others, describe a reality that “no longer distinguishes between naturalness and artificiality but sees things as a whole and as equals,” the curatorial remit states. Inspired by naturalist Alexander von Humboldt’s (1769-1859) two expeditions through America between 1799 and 1804, JSC delves into the essence of his retellings of the New World found in his 1853 publication, from which the exhibition gets its name.
Von Humboldt’s time spent specifically between Orinoco and the Rio Negro in Venezuela formed the foundation of his new approach to observing and recording flora and fauna, which made him a pioneer in discovering and publicising how animate and inanimate forces of nature coexist. This, in turn, forms the basis for Jaguars and Electric Eels, which features a large selection of time-based works that hunt down evolutionary roots, explore indigeneity, hybridity, synthentic life forms, migration and, ultimately, the ever-evolving understanding of these elements. “Starting with the idea of the kind of ecology that focuses not only on natural circumstances but also on the economic and socio-political situation, as well as on technological progress, the exhibition investigates an alternative interpretation of anthropology and zoology,” JSC Berlin elaborates.
The diverse interpretations that exist scientifically, historically and now artistically, illustrate the continually relevant question of the line between natural and artificial, and JSC Berlin offers just a few new ways to approach methods of classification.
Jaguars and Electric Eels runs until 26 November at JSC Berlin, Germany. For more information visit julia-stoschek-collection.net