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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 Théâtre de l’inconnuin 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.


Excerpt of Théâtre de l'inconnu, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, february 14 to april 25 2021. Photo: Guy L’Heureux.



Installation 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. Videography: Philippe Léonard.


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 interactive and inflatable sculpture of a silk gland sheathed in metallic vinyl. 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 & 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, Cecilia McKinnon & Prudence Gendron.
This work was made possible with the generous financial support of the Berggruen Institute ,the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.



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