A Solemn Warning
A Solemn Warning
The gesture of a tease must have originated from celestial bodies first toying with terrestrials who willingly acquiesced by way of retaliation. Thus, an age-old dynamic of endless play unfolds within the genre of cruelty. Where better to situate such activity, than in a garden? In its second presentation ‘Landesgartenschau 2020’ (Translation: State Garden Show), The Mythical Institution has only grown bolder and more accustomed to its methods in articulating a utopian malady of contemporary art. What began as an invitation to embrace the inherently dissociative, unlimited environment of Minecraft has all but deepened into a swaggering half-glance - just barely a tease.
With this headspace, eight artists have embellished the current mise en scène of an outlook, reinforcing the gallery’s upscaled move into a transcendent state of Romantic era fanaticism. The curator claims that none of the works in this show are direct approximations of their makers’ pre-existing research outside of Minecraft; everything was initiated within the psychic and material conditions set by the garden. Further poignance is generated from the show’s claims of paying tribute to the most recent inhabitants of Minecraft: bees. Introduced with update 1.15 in September 2019, the bees of this gallery have been prescribed a demi-god status - the arbiters of all things land art. Such an element practically begs for some form of competition to follow. By agreeing to participate, the artists of ‘Landesgartenschau 2020’ have unwittingly signed up for the task of having to gain the approval of the bees, who will proceed to rate their works throughout the show. It is still unknown as to what sort of matrix they will be using for their ratings.
Deferring power to these bodies made within the server space of the garden is indicative of truly running with the avatarian condition - some version of faith at work, perhaps. Nina Kettiger charts a pilgrimage for visitors, beginning with a walking path in the shape of a musical glyph. At the end of this path, a liturgic tower stands in direct sight to where the bees congregate. The reward for reaching its very top (as is the case with many ritualistic journeys) is mere accumulation. More visions, more worship. Playing in the key of “more is more”, three iterations of Robert Smithson’s earth sculpture Spiral Jetty are lined up near a promenade, casually resembling the number of the beast. Smithson had intended for the adolescently toned cosmic rupture to dislocate its viewers from history. The materiality of Nicholas Warburg & Johannes Büttner’s graffitiesque assemblage riffs on that naivete while its refractive irreverence confirms a sense of place and time.
It is fated that the platitudes of commerce should dovetail with religion. Elsewhere, an elevator of water connects Nicola Arthen’s bespoke Chemex coffee filter to a platform in the sky. The cloud stage holds a lush plantation and processing machine - a set piece adorned with whimsically generic triggers of imperialism. Naturally, tourism finds itself in Fattini Brambel’s abandoned indoor campsite. Here, vestiges of conspiracies and groupthink can still be felt. The boar and parrot communities of a birch forest nearby have taken up residence in the space, unperturbed by its subnarrative debris. Another cradle of potential mythologies. Internal data collection and brand management haven’t been neglected, as dieinternet.org manifests a campaign targeted at reconciling both external visitors and bees. Amongst numerous slogans and promotional content, human users will have access to bee merchandise surrounding the campaign’s mascot. A recreational VIP ‘bees only’ zone offers spa treatments and experiential rooms. Bees are invited to educational displays with the option to dress like humans. A final test of the campaign’s efficacy can be found at a balcony where humans dressed as bee mascots may attempt flight, and bees may be compelled to sample gravitational suicide in their new clothes. As far as conclusions go, Johannes Büttner generously offers a flaming hell pit at the bottom of the jump.
Inside ‘Landesgartenschau 2020’, The Mythical Institution’s selected ensemble renders a graceful yet hammer-like choreography that only the undead can wield; its Babylonian airs inevitably collapse the very polemic it seems to attract. When a site demarcates itself with intimations of the 19th century, echoes of the rampant exploits and pedestrian mechanics that drove the upper classes into NaTuRE are called to surface. The swirling, medicated aesthetic of Minecraft ultimately presents an indifferent chamber of indifferent horrors - a ghoulish reminder that critique is merely one more space to frolic within. Tread lightly on the primordial terrain.