This immersive installation by artist Adrián Villar Rojas (Rosario, Argentina 1980) is titled Poems for Earthlings. Various objects, sounds and interventions through the interior of Amsterdam's Oude Kerk
investigate the complex relationship between the impact of humans on their environment and vice versa. Typical of the anthropocene (a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems) is that it challenges us to think in terms of enormous time scales and spatial distances that go beyond human experience but have increasingly come to influence our daily lives on every level. With this installation, Villar Rojas poses new questions on the meaning of preservation, referring to the World Wars in Europe, when heritage was protected on a monumental scale as a starting point for his thinking.
Director and curator Jacqueline Grandjean said: 'Adrián Villar Rojas' sensitive exploration of the context of the Oude Kerk, making a connection between heritage protection and the preservation of nature, creates new insights in its meaning to us as humans.'
What should we choose to preserve for future generations? How do we do so? And why?
When the Oude Kerk invited Adrián Villar Rojas to create a site-specific installation, he began by immersing himself into its social, cultural, geographical, and institutional environment. He researched the Oude Kerk's history as the oldest building in Amsterdam, a prominent site of the Iconoclastic Fury: a stage for forgotten stories from World War II, and the inconvenient reality of its location below sea level. Poems for Earthlings radically transforms the experience of a visit to the Oude Kerk, while instigating conversations about shared heritage in the Anthropocene.
Director and curator Jacqueline Grandjean: 'Adrián Villar Rojas explores the context of the Oude Kerk by making connections between the protection of heritage and the preservation of nature. In this way he creates new insights for us people.'
Adrián Villar Rojas builds worlds through embodied collaborations which allow us to tell each other stories while touching and thinking within this messy world. For Villar Rojas, the beginning of every project is a process of personal immersion into the social, cultural, geographical, and institutional environment in which he and a group of project-oriented collaborators will work. This inherently nomadic procedure defines him as an artist, who, through constant travel and research, has developed deep engagement with a diversity of sites across the globe.
Leaving scarce traces of its passage through the world due to its perishing materiality and sensitive integration within its context, Villar Rojas' project seems to operate against the notion of commodity, undermining the tacit rules which ensure an effective circulation in the art world: endurance, reproduction, trading, and transport. His work demonstrates its own temporality, offering at the risk of its own oblivion what is doomed to disappearance, what cannot and perhaps should not be preserved.
Adrián Villar Rojas lives and works nomadically. Solo exhibitions include Sometimes you wonder, in an interconnected universe, who is dreaming who?, Tank Shanghai, China (2019); The Theater of Disappearance, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles (2017); NEON at Athens National Observatory, Greece (2017); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2017), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2017); Rinascimento, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2015); Two Suns, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2015); Fantasma, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2015); The Evolution of God, High Line at the Rail Yards, New York (2014); Los teatros de Saturno, kurimanzutto, Mexico City (2014); Films Before Revolution, Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2013); Today We Reboot the Planet, Serpentine Galleries, London (2013); The Work of the Ocean, Foundation 11 Lijnen, Belgium (2013); Before My Birth, Arts Brookfield, New York (2012); and Poems for Earthlings, SAM ART Projects, the Louvre Museum, Paris (2011). Villar Rojas also represented Argentina in the 54th Venice Biennale, ILLUMInations, Italy (2011).
He has participated in international group exhibitions including the 12th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2018); the 1st Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Latvia (2018); the 6th Marrakech Biennale, Morocco (2016); the 14th Istanbul Biennial, Tukey (2015); the 12th Havana Biennial, Cuba (2015); the 12th Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates (2015); the 9th Shanghai Biennale, China (2012); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel and Kabul (2012); and the New Museum Triennial, New York (2012).