HIGHLIGHTS – VENICE BIENNALE 2017

As we randomly encountered our contributors, friends, art critics and curators, during the opening days of the 57th Biennale di Venezia we asked them to choose just one work or artist to talk about. Just one. Here Karim Crippa’s highlight.

#02 ESTONIA – Katja Novitskova
If Only You Could See What I’ve Seen With Your Eyes

KARIM CRIPPA
Indepent curator, Switzerland.

In “If Only You Could See What I’ve Seen With Your Eyes”, Katja Novitskova’s exhibition at the Estonian Pavilion, she explores the possibility of a not-so-uncertain future, in which humanity has been overcome by machines, animals, or both. Now when I usually try to deeply confront myself with the possibility of a post-human world ruled by the primal dynamics of hunting and being hunted, the first thing I actually wanna do to fight the angst is to get a drink with my friends and talk about something shallow, like my mother’s instagram or Brigitte Macron’s wardrobe; yet, as opposed to the slight panic I felt after that snakes-hunting-baby-iguanas scene from Planet Earth 2, I could’ve basked in the gooey feeling Novitskova’s show triggered in me for hours.

I was already taken by how densely the work was installed: it sharpened its oppressive, in-your-face quality. So far I had only witnessed one or two of the artist’s sculptures at once, usually displayed in a cathedralesque Berlin space, but apparently, agglutination does her work good. Here, large cut-outs of hatching snakes, polar bears, flies and unrecognisable organisms appeared both archaic and genetically engineered by the entities who programmed the matrix in the eponymous movie; travelling shadows on the walls, originating from sheets of resin hung from the ceiling, conveyed a dramatic aura bordering on spooky; and in one incredible room, the hypnotic movement of six modified mechanical baby-rockers conjured nightmarish visions of lobotomized hybrids between machine and macro-bacteria. Adorned with rigid semi-transparent petals, metallic crests and mounted on pedestals that looked like scaffolding gone mad, this lifeless pack seemed devoid of  a soul, but full of vicious intentions only waiting to be activated by some superior power. Katja Novitskova’s trippy, pessimistic yet complex and informed take on what we can expect from the future stuck with me, and I’ll never be able to look at a mechanical baby-rocker the same way ever again.