Max Hooper Schneider

Keep On Rotting In The Free World

Keep On Rotting In The Free World – a direct reference to the eponymous song by the death metal group Carcass – is a carte blanche to the artist, for which he takes over the entirety of MO.CO. Panacée’s spaces to present a series of landscapes in varying states of transformation, or what he calls forensic gardens. If the garden, for Hooper Schneider, is a delineation in space and time whose essential subject is growth and decay, its forensic variant performs an autopsy of the transitional states in this (de)generative process. Walking through them invariably generates the following reflexions: what new ecosystems emerge once an environment passes its breaking point? What organisms can survive or be born from the living conditions that are native to this late capitalist period on the brink of exhaustion?

Estuary Holobiont, 2021

This new world, as imagined by Hooper Schneider, leaves little or no space for humans. Yet, far from deploring the toxic effects that the advent of the human species has cast on Earth (the Anthropocene), the artist strategizes with the creative potential of imminent ecological disaster, his vision feeding itself on the radically hopeful idea that matter does not die but only changes form. MO.CO. Panacée’s spaces transform into so many dreamscape fragments, each of which evoke a given moment in this non-quantifiable state of perimortem, that state of change that is the phantasmatic point between life and death, decay and regeneration. Its dynamism is as much suggestive of a promising beginning as it is of an ending or loss: nothing comes from nothing, and neither can nothing be reduced to a state of nothingness. Keep On Rotting In The Free World resembles a somnambulant dérive through improbable states of ecological climax, collapse and succession, whose non-human protagonists, belonging instead to the plant, mineral, animal, fungal and viral kingdoms and their recombinations, are at once its oracles and entrails.

Exhibition view, 2022

Exhibition view, 2022

The exhibition includes a dozen recent sculptures, some of them kinetic, that through their constituent materials that have been subjected to the ravages of time – decay, fragmentation, fossilisation, mechanisation, changes in smell and colour – address the contradictions inherent to the confrontation with death and loss. In addition, MO.CO. Panacée presents a series of new works – sculptures, videos, immersive installations – realised in collaboration with local researchers and scientists during a research and production residency in Montpellier. Fossils, resin, vintage dolls, copper-plated BDSM paraphernalia, aluminium-cast cartridge belts, marine plants and algae, estuarian detritus, neon: Hooper Schneider takes to bits the hierarchy of the symbolic value of all material that he touches, of a civilisation in freefall. It may be that these forensic gardens resemble a graveyard, but one which disgorges new forms of life.

Exhibition view, 2022

Eocene Epizoon: Cnidarian Bacula (detail), 2021

Max Hooper Scheider
Keep On Rotting In The Free World
MO.CO Montpellier Contemporain
February 12 – April 14, 2022

Photo: Pauline Rosen-Cros
Courtesy: the artist, High Art, Paris / Arles and Maureen Paley, London / Hove