11th Gwangju Biennale
2. 9. – 6. 11. 2016



Ann Lislegaard

The inner sides of a partly unfolded mirror box entrap an animated fox, which tries to recount its trip to a distant future in a stuttering, digitized dialect that dissolves every word. The animation Time Machine (2011) by Ann Lislegaard (b. 1962, Horten-Bod/Copenhagen) seemingly blurs the boundary between mainstream Hollywood entertainment and a haunting existential crisis reminiscent of the theatre of the absurd. Borrowing its title from H. G. Wells’s 1895 novel The Time Machine, the video demonstrates Lislegaard’s inquiry into the state of humanity and the fusion of human with nonhuman as a factor of the future. But beyond that, it investigates the very language that enables us to speak about the future and the conceptual limits to this language.

In Oracles, Owls… Some Animals Never Sleep (2012–14), an animated owl speaks in a cryptic computerized voice. The owls’ monologues are difficult to unpack. They may be fragments of I-Ching prophecies or even feminist speaking in tongues, repeatedly interrupted by squeaks of compressed sound adapted from Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner (1982). Like many of Lislegaard’s other works, Oracles… makes reference to science-fiction in multiple ways. In Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), from which Scott’s film is adapted, the protagonist is thrilled to encounter a life-like owl in a time when owls have been the first species to succumb to the pollution that pushed humans out of the Earth.

Spinning and Weaving Ada (2016) premiered in gb11, is a 3D animation of a spider spinning a net out of the letters ADA LOVELACE. She was a 19th century mathematician whose notes contained algorithms that are considered to be the blueprint for the world’s first software and computer. She is seen not only as the first computer innovator, but also as a pioneer of the World Wide Web. The animation is a homage to her and the qualities associated with spinning and weaving: to connect, to make patterns and forms from a multitude of threads, to make nets and networks. Lislegaard works with 3D film animations, sound sculptures and light installations departing from science-fiction novels which function as a laboratory where transformative scenarios and unstable ideas can be staged and tested. It is in this framework that she finds critical tools for reflection on language, gender, politics and notions of futurity.


Growing up north of the Arctic Circle: long dark winters, endless white snow, skating beneath frozen waterfalls, terror at the sight of a sudden aurora borealis. Seeing the first moon landing on a TV monitor in a smoke-filled room, alongside every person in the neighborhood. Black-and-white images, white noise, and a flickering reception of unfathomable news. Reading Egalia's Daughters by Gerd Brantenberg, a book on gendered language in a world where everything is reversed; a satire on the sexes. Seeing Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s science-fiction movie. After pondering several empty frames hanging in the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow (it turned out that the paintings were stolen during the war), I turned around and was completely caught off guard by Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of a weasel held by the most beautiful queer hands. Renting Maya Deren’s Meditation on Violence and a 16mm film projector from the New York Public Library. So luxurious to be able to invite friends to my studio in New York and screen the film again and again. Listening to drones, half asleep on the floor, in La Monte Young’s Dream House at 275 Church Street. Reading Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto and The Birthday of the World by Ursula K. Le Guin while hoping for other ways of interacting and living together. Getting to know Lina Bo Bardi’s architecture and her interest in what she called “a material unconscious” or the “psychic texture of objects,” the invisible and vibrant impulses she incorporated into furniture and architecture. The physical experience of scale with Metabolist architecture in Japan, echoing in my mind and body.