The uses of seaweed seem endless: for food and cosmetic applications, the regulation of nitrogen in the sea, the production of fertilizers and industrial gums. Lately I have been experimenting with recipes to produce a kind of bioplastic from agar, which is primarily derived from two genera of red algae, Gracilaria or Gelidium. It might not sound realistic but I like to think that the application of agarophyte seaweeds could one day see an end to the plastic garbage patches drifting in the oceans.
Shōhei Imamura, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge, 2001
This modest film is the last feature directed by Japanese director Shōhei Imamura. It depicts the encounter between a woman living in a fishing town, afflicted by a condition that makes her produce an unusually large amount of bodily fluid, and a salaryman from Tokyo, mired in financial and marital difficulties. Only sexual intercourse, and explosive ejaculation, can relieve the heroine. During these ‘therapeutic’ sex scenes, the viewer follows the flow of the ‘water’ as it is called in the film, from the domestic set up, through the urban landscape down to a fishing spot, as if the river is fertilized by the supernatural and absurd condition of the female character.
Ashley Bickerton, Seascape: Transporter for the Waste Product of its own Construction #1, 1989
I like the faux-cool critical tone of Ashley Bickerton’s work. This piece alongside others of his from the 1980s carries a playful balance between a critique of minimalism and ecological awareness.
Low-cost and efficient fertilizers are produced from leftovers that these underappreciated creatures break down and digest. A year ago some researchers found out that a kind of worm, the larvea of the Tenebrio molitor, could be fed exclusively on Styrofoam and would turn it into biodegradable matter usable in soil. I will be using these larvae in new works I am making. Hopefully this kind of discovery will help us think more about recycling processes via organisms.
Adverts / time-related desires
Advertisements seem to me like time capsules for ideologies of consumption. I find them simultaneously more compelling and disturbing when they directly address desire relating to projections of time.
Zhao Cangyun, Liu Chen and Ruan Zhao Entering the Tiantai Mountains, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Last autumn I encountered this Chinese handscroll painting at the Met in New York. Measuring more than 5 metres long it depicts the legend of two men who, while journeying through the mountains, are enchanted by immortal beings. After a banquet and a stay with their hosts that feels like a few months, the two men return to their valley only to discover that seven generations had past.
Boris Groys, The Immortal Bodies, 2007
Boris Groys’s brief but great essay ‘The Immortal Bodies’ (2007) (which also took the form of a film collage) charts the history of utopian thinking on immortality in Russia – from the 19th-century transhumanist project to Socialist-inspired blood transfusion experiments.
Lead image: Zhao Cangyun, Liu Chen and Ruan Zhao Entering the Tiantai Mountains, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), ink on paper handscroll, 23 x 564 cm. Courtesy: Ex coll. C. C. Wang Family, Gift of Oscar L. Tang Family, 2005
Aude Pariset (b.1983, France) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Recently, she has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Ginerva Gambino, Cologne (2015) and Kunstverein Nürnberg (2014), with her work also being included in ‘Co-Workers’, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, ‘Find Your Beach’, curated by Christina Lehnert, Gebert Stiftung für Kultur, Rapperswil, and ‘Inside China’, curated by Joey Tang, Palais de Tokyo and K11 Foundation, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Later this year, she will present a solo exhibition at Sandy Brown, Berlin. Her solo exhibition, 'GREENHOUSES', at Cell Project Space, London, runs 23 September – 6 Novemeber; in 2017 it will be reconfigured and included in ARS17 at Kiasma Museum, Helsinki.