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



Natascha Sadr Haghighian with Ashkan Sepahvand

Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s (b. 1979, Munich/Kassel) pssst Leopard 2A7+ is a demilitarized farcical copy of the Leopard 2A7+, a battle tank produced by German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, designed for pacification of uprisings and protests in urban areas. A Lego platform in the dimensions of the tank hosts a sonic investigation and growing audio archive accessible through sixty headphone sockets in place of the tank’s turret. Visitors can sit or lie on the platform and navigate through the various audio files by plugging into the selected channels, and submerge into audio documents, sonic atmospheres, and interpreted music scores, creating a plane of imagination to reflect about the conditions of increasing militarization of urban environments today.

In collaboration with writer and artistic researcher Ashkan Sepahvand (b. 1984, Tehran/Berlin), Natascha Sadr Haghighian has developed a commission for GB11 titled Carbon Theater. The project is conceived for the open-air auditorium in the park located behind the exhibition halls. Accessing this space requires leaving the exhibition hall through a one-way exit on the third floor of the building and walking through a forest path. This decision is irreversible, removing the visitor from the structured sensuous experience of the exhibition and instead offering a space of retreat, respite, and reflection in the world. A curtain hanging in the woods marks the entrance to the Carbon Theater and presents the viewer with symbols and illustrations that act as a legend for an accompanying “sonic pill” that can be downloaded as an mp3 file upon scanning an affixed QR code with one’s smart phone.

Exploring this already existing space of the dormant amphitheater and the surrounding forest, visitors can join their walk with an aural investigation into the carbon cycle and the various bonds carbon makes that support life on Earth but also, when changed, alter the conditions for life altogether. The sonic pill introduces different interlocutors that address the material entanglement of contemporary society with carbon – from its role in the capitalist market to its generative function within the history of democracy, as well as the challenge climate change presents to social, political, and aesthetic organization within the future. MM


Ashkan and Natascha study together. Lately, they have been studying chemistry. It's a pity that we had such bad science teachers in school, because we've realized that chemistry is more than just the periodic table or memorizing formulas. Yes, it may be practical knowledge, but it's also somehow metaphysical knowledge. We've been studying bonds: how things come together, relate, and eventually fall apart. Study doesn't distinguish between one science and another, or between the arts and everything else. It's about thinking the world and its wonders together as one big picture, where the story of how carbon and hydrogen meet and the materials they make is also the story of how alchemists wanted to transform and purify the soul. It is, perhaps more than anything, also the story of how the forms of the human world are reflected in the forms of the more-than-human world.