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Théâtre de l'inconnu, 2-channel HD video & sound, 13 minutes, 2018-20.


Still image from Théâtre de l'inconnu, 2-channel HD video & sound, 13 minutes, 2018-20.


Still image from Théâtre de l'inconnu, 2-channel HD video & sound, 13 minutes, 2018-20.


Still image from Théâtre de l'inconnu, 2-channel HD video & sound, 13 minutes, 2018-20.


Still image from Théâtre de l'inconnu, 2-channel HD video & sound, 13 minutes, 2018-20.


Still image from Théâtre de l'inconnu, 2-channel HD video & sound, 13 minutes, 2018-20.


View of Theatre in the exhibition La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, february 14 to april 25 2021. Photo: Guy L’Heureux.



View of Théâtre de l’inconnu in the exhibition La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, february 14 to april 25 2021.



In Théâtre de l’inconnu a faltering narrator recounts the life-cycle of Saturnids, winged insects belonging the family of giant silk moths. The two-channel video installation manipulates elements borrowed from several National Geographic flower time-lapses, the 19th century opera Adriana Lecouvreur, and excerpts from various literary, scientific and ancient texts. The title of the installation gestures towards early modern scientific compendiums, such as Thomas Muffet's Theatre of Insects (1658) as well as architectures designed for viewing, including dissection amphitheaters, operating theaters, and entertainment venues for performance and cinema.

Also a venue for spectacle and observation, the gallery space is filled with an inflatable sculpture of a giant silk gland sheathed in metallic casing that doubles as seating for viewers. This extracted organ, described by the narrator (in the words of W.G. Sebald) as a “cluster of small, intertwined tubes resembling intestines,” is based on photos from current research attempts to engineer transgenic silkworms whose glands have been modified to produce human collagen for use in cosmetic products. At once tragic, satirical and monumental, the installation explores how Western practices of sight, description and representation have produced and sustained a concept of nature amenable to industrialization and exploitation.


Credits
Written, directed and animated by Mara Eagle
Voice by Ayam Yaldo
Textile installation - Bronwen Moen
Special thanks to Jamie Macaulay, Ayam Yaldo, Phil Hawes, Nadia Myre, Eric Simon, Tobias Rees & Stephen McLeod.
This work was made possible with the generous financial support of the Berggruen Institute and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.




Please contact hambonehoney@gmail.com to watch the online preview version.