How will the history of mankind be communicated to a future without people - and who will listen? Experience the wild nature around ARKEN in a whole new way with Amalie Smith's dystopian sci-fi story '51 e.DSO 'in your ears.
Imagine an (all-too-near) future where ARKEN is surrounded by enemy drones and mutated animals. The wild nature around the museum forms an almost perfect setting for the dystopian sci-fi narrative presented in Amalie Smith’s sound work 51 e.DSO (meaning Year 51 after The Last Rites, literally ‘the last of the oil’).
A nature trail of the near future
Amalie Smith’s sound work sends audiences on a walk in the landscape around ARKEN. The narrative is set in the near future at a time when climate change has accelerated and rain falls all the time. ARKEN is no longer the museum we know today, but a storage site for objects worthy of preservation such as art – a seed bank for posterity.
The story follows three characters who have lived at ARKEN for two years now. It is clear that humanity will not survive the many disasters that loom on the horizon. But what kind of art should be collected for posterity? How is such a collection to be categorised? How should the history of mankind be communicated to a future without people – and who will listen?
Smith’s work has parallels to the Old Testament story of Noah’s ark, where God punishes mankind for its wickedness by sending a flood to destroy all life. Only Noah’s family and two representatives of each species survive the deluge aboard a ship. Smith’s speculative future fiction intertwines the biblical tale of survival with current issues concerning climate crisis and art history alike. Today, we see an increasing number of seed banks being set up around the world in an effort to secure our future on a planet we woefully neglect. In Smith’s narrative, however, the hope of survival is finally extinguished, and the work carried out in the art bank, categorising and mediating art, is the only scrap of meaning left for the three characters to hold on to. Art becomes a kind of shorthand representing the philosophical and existential aspects of humankind.
The soundtrack conveying the narrative was recorded in and around ARKEN. Smith recorded the work with a so-called binaural microphone, which records sound in 3D and makes the world presented feel immediate and real. By letting reality merge with fiction, the artist disrupts our sense of time as different timeframes come together in the work.
About Amalie Smith
Amalie Smith (b. 1985) is a graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and Forfatterskolen (the Danish School of Creative Writing). Smith examines the relationship between the narrative and the phenomenological in books, films, sound and installation art. She explores our ways of perceiving, understanding and categorising the world. Smith often works with montages in which different stories and disciplines are intertwined in order to challenge and mutually inform each other.
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EVA STEEN CHRISTENSEN
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Have you ever swung your way through a molecule? You can in Olafur Eliasson’s outdoor sculpture, which mixes art with architecture and play.