Conceived as a metaphor for current or imminent crises, the thawing permafrost serves as the anchor of the exhibition. Permafrost is the term used to describe the frozen layers of soil that cover a quarter of the Northern hemisphere’s surface. Subject to climate disturbance, these grounds thaw and release large quantities of methane and carbon, causing erosion, disappearance of lakes, landslides and soil subsidence. The thawing also upsets the composition of plant and animal species and activates the release and spread of previously unknown bacteria and viruses that have remained frozen for thousands of years.
Permafrost explores more specifically how these current natural, economic and symbolic systems adapt and transform in an uncontrollable and unstable morphogenesis. The works generate a reality and a sciencefiction. They also ask the question: which symbols, forms and myths will still exist when known systems collapse, landscapes crumble, and cycles go out of sync?
The artists in Permafrost appropriate and invent different aesthetic, formal and narrative modes. In blurring the boundaries between distant past and near future, geological eras and production chains, they seek to develop aesthetic systems that meet the challenges of our time, that are forms of resistance.
In his sculptural ensembles and installations composed of disparate objects, diverted or taken from his daily life and direct environment, Nicolás Lamas brings to the forefront the fragility of an era undermined by the abundance of information.
In Permafrost, the artist shows a part of his Planned Obsolescence series: disembowelled machines that might resemble mutilated or dissected bodies. He develops an analogy between human and machine, through the circulations, flows, productions and memory that they generate. The artist shapes and symbolises man’s relationship to the disclosure and preservation of ideas, equally as to their manifestations, natural and artificial, autonomous or programmed. The work makes different symbols of knowledge coexist and collide, from ancient culture to that of reproduction and immediacy.
The same applies to the piece After the end, consisting of a series of used objects and organic elements, half waste, half evidence, kept in a refrigerator. It becomes a showcase for a hybrid memory, whose values are continually being recomposed.
Photo credit : Marc Domage