TheCube Project Space of Taipei, in collaboration with Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain, is pleased to present on September 11th UNGROUND, an 8-channel audio-visual installation by the Luxembourgish artist-duo Gast Bouschet and Nadine Hilbert. Kevin Muhlen, artistic director of Casino Luxembourg, where the exhibition had its first reveal in 2012, is curating the Taipei exhibition.
UNGROUND’s visit to Taipei is part of a cultural exchange program between Taiwan and Luxembourg. Shared interests and enthusiasm for contemporary art brought Casino Luxembourg and TheCube into discussions on ways to extend and deepen mutual exchange opportunities. Casino Luxembourg’s artistic director and curator Kevin Muhlen is spearheading the program to invite Luxembourgish artists to Taiwan. For its part, TheCube is currently developing a program with Casino to bring an exhibition by three Taiwanese artists to Luxembourg in the spring of 2015.
Gast Bouschet and Nadine Hilbert have recreated UNGROUND for its premiere in Taipei. A more highly integrated, 8-channel video installation narrates the liquefaction of solid matter into a complexity of flows. Images symbolically interweave references to the alchemical process of dissolution, immersing viewers in a pronounced feeling that the entire global civilization is melting away.
Tempestarii is a live performance that will take place on the exhibition’s opening evening at The Wall live house. This is a separate collaborative effort by Bouschet, Hilbert, and sound artist/musician Stephen O’Malley that integrates music and visual imagery to create a distinctive vibe that adds further energy to the message and meaning of UNGROUND.
The basis of UNGROUND is a collection of filmed images captured by Bouschet and Hilbert in London and Iceland between 2010 and 2014. The two have since woven the images of these two very different places and environments into a dialectic, visual narrative that juxtaposes modern urbanity with the forces of nature. Images in the former category focus on London’s Financial District and its frenetic streams of professionals scuttling to and fro. Images in the latter focus on the concurrent eruption of an Icelandic volcano as well as on scenes of that country’s glaciers and open landscapes. Black-and-white images capture the spasmodic convulsions inherent to our global economy while highlighting the underlying conflict between the human and the natural environment as well as the implications of this conflict. The exhibition’s side-by-side examination of this epic conflict dialectically dissects, and bears witness to, humanity’s unrestrained exploitation of planet earth and our ultimate, collective fate.
The 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjöll volcano beneath an Icelandic glacier sent a stream of ash into the atmosphere that effectively brought European air transportation to a standstill. Nature’s continuing ability to create unchecked impact on humanity is a source of deep fascination and interest for both Bouschet and Hilbert. During filming, they splattered camera lenses with volcanic ash and dirty ice to create images marred by patchy areas of darkness and imperfect vision. Bouschet describes UNGROUND as “a piece about the profound crisis of perception we are going through.” Through the lens ofUNGROUND, the artists have constructed a metaphor for all of us to reevaluate the primal forces that determine both consciousness and reality.
The sound accompaniment to UNGROUND in Taipei was designed and produced by Stephen O’Malley.
About the artists:
Gast Bouschet and Nadine Hilbert
Gast and Nadine were both born in Luxembourg and are currently based in Brussels, Belgium. They have worked together since 1990s, using a combination of photography, video, and sound to create potent social, political, and institutional critiques which they have exhibited at major international venues including the Muzeum Sztuki Lodz, Poland; Philharmonie, Luxembourg; Trienal de Luanda, Angola; Busan Biennale of Contemporary Art, South-Korea; Domaine de Chamarande, France; Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg and Camouflage Johannesburg, South Africa, among others. In 2009 they represented Luxembourg at the Venice Biennale.
About the curator:
In 2009 the Luxembourg native Kevin Muhlen (b. 1977) became the artistic director of Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain, where he has been curating since 2004. He studied art history at Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) and Université Marc Bloch (Strasbourg, France).
Since arriving at Casino Luxembourg, Muhlen has curated numerous exhibitions, including Volume(s) (2008), Aude Moreau – Tirer le ciel (2009), Janek Simon – A sequence of events in a space (2009), Ceci n’est pas un Casino (2010), Bruno Peinado – CASINO INCAOS, Baroque Courtoisie (2010), and Pascal Grandmaison – Half of the darkness (2011). In 2009 Muhlen also initiated the international artist-in-residency program project room @ aquarium, in which the Taiwanese artist Hong-Kai Wang participated (2010).
In addition to his work at Casino Luxembourg, Muhlen was curator of the Luxembourg Pavilion at the 52nd International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia (2007) for the project Endless Lust by the artist Jill Mercedes. He has also curated group exhibitions, including the Luxembourg representation for the Prix d’Art Robert Schuman (2007) at Stadtmuseum Simeonstift Trier (Germany), the traveling exhibition Prix d’Art Robert Schuman – Best of (2008), and Through the looking-glass (2009) at Kunstraum Engländerbau in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Muhlen has also contributed essays to many publications and exhibition catalogues.