As part of its special Artist-In-Residency programme, Saatchi Gallery is delighted to present two new multi-media installations by Cyril de Commarque and Kate Daudy Created as a response to Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, which will be displayed at Saatchi Gallery for six months from November to May 2020, both artists invite the viewer to contemplate notions of legacy and transition.
Artificialis takes as its starting point the Anthropocene era - the period when man first had an impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems - then looks towards the future, meditating on the effect technology and scientific advancement will have on humankind and the environment.
Says Commarque: ‘We are in essence no different to our earliest ancestors, but Artificial Intelligence has the power to shape us into a markedly different species. One consequence is that the mythologies that have de ned us in the past will become obsolete, demanding new ones to replace them.’
The artist invites the viewer to contemplate this new world, starting with the notion that Homo Sapiens will be superseded by a species of its own creation, Homo Artificialis. Rather than portray this in Utopian or Dystopian terms, Commarque interrogates his own feelings through a series of sculptural mise-en-scènes, each piece documenting the transition from one age to another.
Located on the Gallery’s second floor, the installation includes sculptures placed around a carpet of multi-coloured flakes. The four figurative pieces are made from the crudest form of plastic waste, and in sync with the show’s themes have been created by the human hand with the assistance of robotic tools. The sculptures, which include two flower-shaped neons suspended from the ceiling, are standalone works however each is united by a common visual language.
The atmosphere is heightened by a sound work created by the artist in collaboration with Toni Castell, itself punctuated by the ignition of a stroboscopic light which randomly flickers into life. Meanwhile, Primitive, is displayed in an adjoining room. Carved from wood, it presents the destructive patterns of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
Artificialis will be accompanied by a programme of talks arranged by the artist. Says Philippa Adams, Director, Saatchi Gallery: ‘Inviting Daudy and Commarque to be artist-in–residence at the Saatchi Gallery has led to two very exciting interventions. The programme set out to open discourses of the key themes of afterlife and existence explored in the story of King Tutankhamun. Both installations open a discourse on the nature of life, drawing on the past and looking into the future.’
It wasn’t that at all explores life, death and the after-life. With a celebrated ability to immerse herself in the subject, Daudy has produced an installation that draws on her own relationship with death and time. Over several months, Daudy has been researching Egyptology and engrossed herself in understanding the faith and traditions of Ancient Egypt. Starting with a wall of Egyptian eyes staring out from a wall of phones and TV monitors, the multi-faceted installation takes the viewer on a truly immersive journey.
The exhibition invites visitors to explore themes that include mortality; faith and science; recollecting the absent; past never remains in the past; and, legacy. Six interconnected spaces start with Daudy’s own temporary studio. Here she will welcome visitors to share the books and research items used during the residency together with an interactive map of Egypt in London. In this space, Daudy hopes to lay the foundations of intrigue for others to discover the wonders of Ancient Egypt. Alongside her research materials lie two installation works which explore man’s relationship with nature: a floor installation of the White Nile; and, a piece that explores Daudy’s own relationship with death, illustrated by a rework display.
Continuing the theme of mortality and touching on faith and science, the following room juxtaposes surgical instruments from the Hammersmith Cardiology Unit with a work representing traditional mummification practices. Having spent time researching heart surgery and begging the question of our own approach to immortality, Daudy shows footage from a heart bypass.
In a space dedicated to recollecting the absent, Daudy uses her distinct humour to play with the viewers preconceived ideas of exhibitions. Presented is a traditional gallery installation - except absent of objects. All that we see are labels referring to experiences, people and objects now absent or lost. Ranging from the ancient Egyptian fortress of Buhen, subsumed by the Nile in 1964 with the construction of the Aswan Dam, the labels will refer to ideas forgotten by history.
In the final, open room, the exhibition concludes with installations examining what we leave behind - our legacy. We find a tiny throne and furniture sewn with Daudy’s own Egyptian hieroglyphs and written interventions, before monumental panels of arrows reflecting a lifetime of choices. The legacy of our interest, and in direct response to the Tutankhamun exhibition, a projection of original footage of the tomb’s entrance during the sacking by Carter and Carnarvon. Sitting alongside this, Daudy has placed a 1930’s portable typewriter and monitor transcribing lists of virtues that are prized and virtues that are not. During the six-month exhibition, It wasn’t that at all, Daudy will be working with her collaborators on a series of talks and events which will include a dynamic programme of podcasts interviewing leading experts in their fields including scientists, historians and artists. Making Ancient Egypt more accessible and sharing a cross-disciplinary approach to the subject will continue Daudy’s conversation with Tutankhamun. With special thanks to Caroline d’Esneval for her creative contribution.