Nina Canell, Rochelle Feinstein, Louise Lawler, Marie Matusz,
Josep Maynou, Alan Schmalz, John Smith and Niels Trannois

Curated by Elise Lammer

SALTS, Birsfelden


16 September – 18 November 2018

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Hunter of Worlds borrows its title from a 1977 science fiction novel by American writer C. J. Cherryh. A space invasion story, it’s remarkable for its ability to tell the events from an alien viewpoint, but mainly for the thorough use of three complex invented languages, namely the Kalliran, Amaut and Iduve. Remarkably, according to Mark Bould in The  Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009), the Iduve language makes “no clear distinction between the concepts of noun and verb, between solid and action.” 

The exhibition Hunter of Worlds is a speculative experiment for which the viewer is kindly invited to imagine that all previous knowledge (as well as reading and understanding thereof) has been forgotten, as a result of an interruption or dramatic slow-down of our civilization, following an ice age, or a human-induced catastrophe. The works on display would therefore stand for the last signs and symbols for a now obliterated culture. The artworks are by Nina Canell, Rochelle Feinstein, Louise Lawler, Marie Matusz, Josep Maynou, Alan Schmalz, John Smith and Niels Trannois.


"Radioactive waste takes 100’000 years until it’s safe. There is no doubt that the best of currently available human knowledge has been invested in making atomic waste underground repositories safe against events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or even an ice age, which is likely to take place in about sixty thousand years. But there is also little to no doubt that the language we speak today will be forgotten in a couple of centuries, and that by then all digital archives will be lost or obsolete. To illustrate the impermanence of knowledge and language, I always think of Alexander the Great. Despite being crowned king of Egypt in 332 BC, and examples of recorded exchanges between Greece and Egypt for centuries before him, the civilisations that followed lost the ability to read hieroglyphs without much drama, while the Egyptian territory passed from Syrian to Greek to Pagan and then Christian Romans hands. This tale of contemporary diplomacy in not even 2,500 years old. In this context the main challenge is not only technological, it’s mostly semantic."


Excerpt from the essay “Merry Oblivion, Empathy vs. Curiosity” in What is going to happen is not the future, but what we are going to do,  by Elise Lammer, edited together with Chus Martínez and Rosa Lleo, and published in Rome by NERO in February 2018


© SALTS and Gunnar Meier, 2018

Despar Teatro Italia, Venice
Moder Art, London
Nomas Foundation, Rome
SALTS, Birsfelden

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