Can a shell sing to me? Can a human being be a snake? Can a tree be my mother or father? Can I converse with a river? Can a chicken help to communicate with my ancestors? Are there human beings that know how to sing like birds? Can my apple tree call for my help? Can animals in the forest show me how to survive? Can I listen to the insects in a fallow in the middle of the city?
Collaborative and trans-
The project and its title emerged from a conversation between Senegalese painter, sculptor, performance artist, playwright and poet Issa Samb and Antje Majewski under the trees in his courtyard in Dakar. Sadly, both Issa Samb and the trees are gone today, but the discussion set a process, a laboratory in motion. It was the start of meetings, travels, and conversations between Majewski and the invited artists.
How to talk with birds, trees, fish, shells, snakes, bulls and lions takes artists’ interactions with endangered places, societies and environments as points of departure. The presented works often focus on specific places that have been destroyed, altered, or are seriously imperiled by encroaching capitalism, colonialism, and other detrimental human influences. Videos, large-
The emphasis on “speaking” or “talking” raises questions as to how meaning is created and conveyed, and for whom. The concept of “meaning” in Western science seems especially human, since most semiotic modes of communication presuppose a human mindset. And yet language is just one mode of expression in the planetary semiosis, and like other meaningful acts, it is rooted in the environment and all those dependent on it. Talking with birds, trees, fish, shells, snakes, bulls and lions requires keen attention to different voices, and openness to the sound of languages that we might not understand. Enacting this communication means suspending the grammar and style regime, and listening to murmurs and reverberations, repetitions and pauses. We need to learn how to listen and respond to other beings with empathy, attentiveness, and love.
Artists: Antje Majewski with Agnieszka Brzeżańska & Ewa Ciepielewska, Carolina Caycedo, Paweł Freisler, Olivier Guesselé-
Curators: Ina Dinter (Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin), Aleksandra Jach (Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź)
© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2018. All Rights Reserved
Exhibition view of How to talk with birds, trees, fish, shells, snakes, bulls and lions at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, 2018. © Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Thomas Bruns / VG Bild-