KW Digital: The Last Museum
30 April – 6 June 21
Artists: Nora Al-Badri, Nicole Foreshew, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, Jakrawal Nilthamrong, Zohra Opoku, Charles Stankievech
The Last Museum simultaneously unfolds across six continents and the virtual realm. Principally accessed through www.kw-berlin.de/thelastmuseum, the exhibition features all-new commissions that blur the line between cinema and sculpture, while exploring the potential of web-site-specificity.
The Last Museum’s site is a layered reality or (to borrow a term from computational engineering) a ‘stack’. This stack encompasses land, sculpture, code-user experience, metadata and still more softer specificities. In this respect, each artwork is a vector that intersects with the web-site’s various layers. Each artist was commissioned to author a sculptural group, to be installed at a physical site of their own choosing. The choice was only limited by a request that it be associated with communications infrastructure. Final locations ended up highlighting both technical and more esoteric resources for connectivity. They included a notorious hacker space in Berlin, Indigenous land in rural Australia, a popular electronics mall in downtown São Paulo, a Cosmic Ray Research Station in the Rocky Mountains, a half-built mortuary in Accra, Ghana, and burning fields in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Each sculptural intervention was videoed by the artists and the resulting clips were handed over to a coder, before being brought together by a digital way-finding protocol. The outcome, debuting as a pop-up window on the KW start page, is a website experience that unfolds as an interactive sequence of objects and places, navigable using bespoke tools. At times, these tools amount to additional (digital) artworks.
Zohra Opoku and Nora Al-Badri deploy sign systems that were once undecipherable (in the form of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics). Charles Stankievech (in addition to Al-Badri) also makes use of Mesopotamian Cuneiform. Closer to home, The Wiradjuri artist Nicole Foreshew highlights Indigenous communications that resist the colonial gaze—through her work with ‘message sticks’. The Last Museum imagines information transmission across the historical longue durée, dramatizing points of intersection with emerging technologies, (body) politics, and the global economy. As it does so, a leitmotif of displacement, limbo, loss, and undeath plays out.
The Last Museum will tour as a ‘pop-up exhibition’ on partner institution’s websites. Each touring iteration will acquire a new chapter—with an additional artist/site from the host institution’s country added to the navigable sequence. The Last Museum is hosted by Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative (PCAI) website from September 14 to October 16, 2021. Additional partners will be announced in due course.
Curator: Nadim Samman
KW Institute for Contemporary Art is institutionally supported by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe, Berlin.
The Last Museum is produced in collaboration with Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative (PCAI), Athens
Media Partner: ARTE