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.

“The work is not unfinished in order to encourage the creative act of the viewer: it is unfinished because of the creative act of the viewer . Viewing it as a work of art makes it a signifier, and hence it has failed to represent the subject not as a signifier. From this perspective, simply to designate a work as a work of art makes it unfinished.”- Darian Leader
“It was a little unclear what the group sent us. Was it the whole list on the right? Was it Juice? Was it Circle? What struck me most about the chart you sent was the way the participants spoke/described what it was they received. I loved that each person was named and owned the description. It reconfirmed something that Sean and I picked up on in our early attempts to communicate telepathically something I think of as ‘imaginary certainty’. That is, we find ourselves in somewhat of an altered state after telepathy and the texts generated read as a sort of stream of consciousness, similar to the way people speak when they recount a dream. The absolute certainty applied to the imaginary proposition seems to generate a confident, efficient and graceful strangeness.”- Veronica Kent