Floating Art - English guide
You can experience Floating Art 2019 Cry Me a River in Vejle Fjord until september 2nd.
This is the fourth year in a row that Vejle Art Museum has realised Floating Art.
We do this every year because we want to shake the way art museums convey art by moving it into the public space. The intention is to make art accessible to as many as possible, and make art play an active role in their lives. The intention is to show that art is already a part of the surrounding environment and of the everyday life that we all move around in.
We also believe that greater openness in the meeting with art in the local area can give the audience a clearer picture of a culturally coherent area and thus contribute to the pride of belonging here in Vejle.
We have chosen Vejle Harbour, the harbour buildings and the fjord as a scenario for the floating art. We have done this consciously, because we contribute to the focus on the town’s beautiful development towards the water. Thus, we give people the opportunity to meet high quality art on the go – when they go for a walk along the fjord, sail, cross or drive through the town.
Many thanks to all sponsors, artists and business partners. Without their help we couldn’t realize Floating Art year after year.
Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue
By curator Mette Woller
You were my sun, you were my earth / But you didn’t know all the ways I loved you, no / So you took a chance, made other plans / But I bet you didn’t think that they would come crashing down, no
- Justin Timberlake, ‘Cry Me a River’, 2002
Sloshing around in spongy, soft octopus arms, the pink Venus figure has become the mascot for this year’s Floating Art. The historic fertility goddess gathers the many arms of narratives that flow in and out of the exhibition’s concept to land as works in Vejle Fjord.
The works have all emerged from ideas of water and Vejle’s wet valley. From fluid environments in our bodies, to horny conditions in abundance and prestigious buildings, the artists all present different angles to the exhibition’s tearful concept.
Cry Me a River mourns the climate-critical and anti-solidarity states of our world. However, it is also an exhibition that tries to create hope.
Wet environments are the basis of our existence in every way. Human life begins in water. In amniotic fluid, we develop to be part of the world. We are all walking bodies of water, something we share with the animals and multicellular plants on Earth. Water is what – despite our many differences – binds us together across countries, cultures and bodies. Something we all need to survive.
As a floating exhibition on water, seeping away from the traditional exhibition space, water is not just the foundation of the works, it is also the central element of the exhibition concept.
My curatorial concept for the fourth edition of Floating Art is a science-fiction story divided into three books that have never been written; The exhibition concept consists of a summary of all three books and the invited artists – as well as the audience – are invited to complete the story.
The recurring figure is the foam-born Venus, who, along with the ocean’s subtle existences, are inserted into a future wet universe. The inspiration is taken from the sea and its wildlife that possess completely different sensory devices than humans.
Cephalopods, for example, have three hearts and nine brains and are some of the closest we come to aliens. Their boneless structure enables them to penetrate even the smallest crevices and spaces. Similarly, Floating Art – Cry Me a River has nine key projects in the exhibition that make up the exhibition’s brains.
Some of them even have more hearts by having works on land as well as on water. The common mission is to get under the skin of the visitors, to let them discover what they may not notice. Now, for example, the pink Venus on top of this page; What if I told you she is really a dildo?
In various ways, this year’s artists have been inspired by the concept and its themes. Some have chosen to relate specifically to the sci-fi story; others have been inspired by the sci-fi genre’s themes in general, while others again go off on a tangent. It is exactly as it should be with art as it should not be captured, but has the potential to show other ways than those you think you should go.
With a floating fountain, plastic fruits washed ashore from China, unheard voices underwater, a ghost ship with a history in Vejle and a work that escapes from the others and constitutes the scapegoat of the exhibition, the presented artists treat everything from immigrant identities, pollution and pirate territories to different sensory devices, and not least, hope. Common is the desire to create a presence in the world based on solidarity and community and make room for what is different.
Cry Me a River are the tears in your eyes that flush the dirt away and make you see the world in new ways.
This guide should be considered as an extension of the exhibition with contributions from the artists, which gives some new and different angles to the works they present in the exhibition.
Thanks to this year’s artists, the jury and our partners – without them, this project was not possible. And, not least, thanks to everyone who visits the exhibition and think along.
Cry Me a River - A Mythologically Inspired Sci-fi Narrative
The concept of Cry Me A River is a sci-fi narrative that invites the artists and audience to think along and complete the story. The story posits a frightening idea that the climate change leading to the demise of the earth has already happened once, and that history simply repeats itself: It is the destiny of humanity and we need to act now if we, and life on the planet, are to survive. And we can only do that together.
The Greek-mythological love goddess Venus is one of the most used figures and bodies in art history. Most people know her from the artist Sandro Botticelli’s painting ‘The Birth of Venus’ or the famous sculpture ‘Venus of Willendorf’. The mythological narrative describes how Venus’ father, the god Saturn, castrated his tyrannical father in a battle and threw his genitals into the sea. Out of the mixture of blood, sperm and seawater, Venus arose from the sea foam at the coast and went ashore.
Science fiction usually deals with outer space and aliens as well as the fear of the other, but many science fiction genre characters are taken directly from the sea, such as the Mantis Shrimp and the Phronima Parasite, which inspired the Alien films. Thus, it is in our own biological backyard that we can find inspiration for other ways of understanding and sensing the world.
The animals of the sea also show us an openness to alternative sexualities, sex and bodies that question what can be termed ‘natural’. Cry Me a River is based on these animals through the multi-gendered beings found in the story.
Cry Me a River is aimaginative tale about the future of humanity, where community is the only way forward. The foam-born Venus is part of a science fiction universe on the wet planet Venusmira – named after and taking the shape of the transsexual sea snail Miamira alleni. Unlike the other planets of the galaxy, Venusmira has a liquid, organic constantly changing form.
After the end of Earth, Venus tries to lead the beings of Venusmira towards a new social order. The planet can only survive if everyone is connected. But, colonies slowly begin to emerge from the community, along with the threat from the remains on Earth, led by P. Murt, which constantly threaten the peaceful planet.
Book 1: The present is hunted by the past
About life on Venus where the Oranosolos and the Octavia Clan coexist.
The planet Venus once consisted of oceans that evaporated as the temperature rose. With its extreme heat, Venus is considered the most aggressive and hostile planet, but its history bears witness to a loving life where beings existed side by side. Like Earth, the planet Venus once contained life-giving water and a living, intelligent colony.
Part of the colony was the planet’s original inhabitants, the alien clan Octavia, who had to escape when the destructive race Oranosolo caused the planet’s downfall. The Octavia clan escaped to Earth, where they settled in the sea. However, micro-cells from the Oranosolo race had come on board the spaceship.
Oranosolos emerge in amniotic fluid and consist of 70 per cent water. Oranosolos are gifted shapeshifters. They evolved into
aquatic animals that eventually lost their gills, developed arms and legs, and eventually crawled on land and settled in the trees. They became the human race.
Venus is a love child secretly created between an Octavia and an Oranosolo, while the Oranosolos were still aquatic animals and among other things, took the form of hippocampi (seahorses). Her father carried her for 44 days before he changed colour and gave birth to her in sea foam. Venus is named after – and as a declaration of love for – the original mother planet Venus and the time when
the Octavia clan and the Oranosolo race lived in peaceful coexistence.
She has many names. She is half alien and half human and can change shape and skin colour. Venus behaves as she wants to and chooses between male and female attitudes – depending on her mood.
Venus’ mission is to bring the humans and the aliens together again – to live in a loving community.
Book 2: Cry Me a River
About life on Earth where Venus is born and the climate crisis escalates.
On Earth, the destructive behaviour of the Oranosolos meant that clean drinking water became in short supply. The sea became a storage facility for rubbish and plastic. Many sea animals either suffocated or became watery creations that were half animal and half plastic, and the Octavia clan was again facing extinction. They therefore prepared to flee once more.
The heavy pollution resulted in the centre of the Earth becoming a heartshaped, poisonous river of ice. This river is called Cry Me a River – also known as the River of Complaints and is part of the six world seas that Earth now
consists of and which are controlled by P. Murt.
The other rivers are The River of Hate, the River of Pain, the River of Forgetfulness, and the River of Fire. The human souls who did not leave in time are stuck in these rivers. Cry Me a River, is where the complaining souls who felt affected by the MeToo-movement are trapped.
In her grief over the destruction of Earth and humanity’s violence against nature, Venus wept for 666 days. Her tears gathered in the river Eljev, which left Earth and flowed upwards. As a constantly changing water bubble, the planet floated aimlessly while the oceans flooded Earth. Eljev took the shape of the transsexual sea snail Miamira alleni when it reached the spiral galaxy Saraswati, and so the planet Venusmira was born.
Book 3: Venusmira
About the departure from Earth and the new society on the planet Venusmira.
While Earth was ending, Venus and the Octavia clan gathered a large group of people, in whom they saw the potential of continuing a community, where Octavia and the human race could again live side by side on Venusmira – according to the organic Octavia principles.
To avoid humanity’s destructive behaviour once again presupposing a downfall; the Octavia-clan modified the original Oranosolo genes. In the mouths of the Octavia clan’s living, fungia coral spaceships, the humans were put into hibernation on the way to the spiral galaxy Saraswati while their cells were modified. All bad genes were transformed into positive energy, which the spacecraft used for the journey while they modified and optimised their food.
The coral spaceships were sent by the first from the Octavia clan that had reached Venusmira.
In the coral ships, humans were equipped with new water cells from Venusmira, which ensured constant contact with the planet. If the planet, including its nature was damaged, the humans would feel pain. This also meant that all existences on Venusmira functioned as one common body. Everyone was connected. If individuals stood out, there would be an imbalance in the system, which had major consequences for the planet’s survival. It depended on its residents, as they were dependent on it.
The airways were arranged so that humans could breathe everywhere – but preferred to breathe in water. They were given new sensory apparatus from the animals of the ocean which meant they could see, smell and taste in entirely new ways.
Not everyone was interested in living according to the planet’s principle of community, and groups slowly started detaching themselves from the society.
The Fungia Ships
Coral ships are living organisms that are self-sufficient and can feed their passengers while they themselves eat from them. Fungia
corals use their passengers’ energy as fuel, which is why they go into hibernation – equivalent to a comatose state.
Venusmira is a lush planet covered by 90% water and 10% land with rainforest, jungles and mountains. Venusmira’s wet walls in the landscape make it possible to flow everywhere. There are no country borders on Venusmira. No division. Everything flows together into a common origin.
There are different kinds of water at different temperatures. In some places, kilometre-high ice sculptures sprout in deformed proportions. Many of the animals resemble animals from Earth, but they are most often in hybrid forms. Like the transcendent panther whose shape resembles a panther, but which is transparent and moves like liquid water.
One day on Venusmira is equivalent to 243 days on Earth. There are two suns and four moons.
There is a special place on the planet where times collide. You enter this place by sliding through a water surface. Here you can meet Future, who is both a prophet and actual time and who guards the entrance to that, which one can never know.
There is one rule on Venusmira, which is Ja Rule, but it cannot be described in words.
The majority of the planet’s residents are hybrids – half aquatic animal and half human. Some resemble humans more than others.
Cry Me a River is dedicated to and inspired by Astrida Neimani’s literary works on water (Bodies of Water) and the sci-fi writer Octavia Butler (Lilith’s Brood).
Thank you to the sea and its animals for the greatest inspiration for the creatures in the story.
...and to Justin Timberlake.