Explaining contemporary art to live eels

Explaining contemporary art to live eels belongs to an ongoing performative project in which guest speakers are invited to explain contemporary art to eels that are later released back into-the-wild. The work addresses issues related to transmission, diffusion, sending, receiving and not-knowing. Edition number four was commissioned by CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art, Bordeaux in 2008 and other editions were presented at Villa Arson, Nice and at La Panacée, Montpellier commissioned by curator and art historian Sébastien Pluot in the context of his research project In translation and related exhibitions.

In this installation the aquatic environment of Explaining contemporary art to live eels does not host the performative event but is reconfigured as an archival space where manifold affects from past performances are displayed together. Live eels are now exchanged with a copper sculpture, There is no simulation, in a sense a facsimile of a live eel, commissioned and produced by Villa Croce and cast at the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia in Milan.

“We still don’t know how to assemble, in a single, visually coherent space, all the entities necessary for a thing to become an object.”- Bruno Latour
“The young Sigmund Freud, while then absorbed in physiological research, was baffled by his inability to find the testicles of eels: his object of study. This is an obsession particularly significant for one who would become the theoretician of the castration complex. One can imagine Freud’s confusion and, perhaps, helplessness before the phallic animal whose gender he was unable to determine. Suspended in a state of sexual uncertainty, each eel is the prototype of a non-physiological difference in gender, whilst still (visually) a phallic symbol.”- Sébastien Pluot