Kunsthall Trondheim , Trondheim, Norway 09 Dec 2021 - 06 Mar 2022
Alberta Whittle, Dreaming Other-ways (2021), digital collage, aluminum, plexiglass, Facemount print, 65 x 90 cm. Courtesy the artist and Copperfield London. Commissioned by Kunsthall Trondheim and The Seed Box.
Sex Ecologies explores gender, sex, and sexuality in the context of ecology. The exhibition is the result of a two-year collaborative project between Kunsthall Trondheim and The Seed Box, a collaborative program hosted by Linköping University that focuses on environmental humanities.
With: Jes Fan, Ibrahim Fazlic, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Jessie Kleemann, Pedro Neves Marques, Okwui Okpokwasili & Peter Born, Margrethe Pettersen, Alberta Whittle, Anna Tje
Sex Ecologies is founded in the belief that environmental and social justice go hand in hand. Through a transdisciplinary approach, the exhibition critiques understandings of nature, gender, sexuality, and race that attempt to objectify and naturalize them. For example, “laws against nature” were—and still are—justified through evolutionary narratives exclusively permitting heterosexual reproduction. Everything that does not fit this norm is considered unhealthy, polluted, or “degenerate.” At the same time, nature since the European Enlightenment has been idealized as a place pertaining to a primitive past, or commodified as a site of extraction of what the environmental thinker Jason W. Moore calls “cheap nature.” Similarly, the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer and musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson says of colonizers: “You use gender violence to remove Indigenous peoples and their descendants from the land, you remove agency from the plant and animal worlds and you reposition aki (the land) as ‘natural resources’ for the use and betterment of white people.” These norms have proven detrimental to humans and to the thing we call nature alike.
The exhibition presents newly commissioned works by nine artists made specifically for the exhibition. The artists participated in regular online meetings to workshop their artworks with the exhibition curators and with each other. The process was accompanied by an advisory board for cross-pollination composed of researchers from disciplines like gender studies, environmental humanities, communications, and Indigenous studies.
The works resulting from this process address surrogacy and male pregnancy, the connections between the hair of a Black girl as she is coming of age and the roots of trees, ecological BDSM with toxicity and microplastics, productive contamination in oysters, mythologies centered on the Greenlandic mother of the sea, the connectivity between a human body and the Nidelva river while láibmat (drifting in North Sámi language), an immersive multispecies dancefloor, the trade routes from Cameroon to the banlieues of France of the safou fruit, or the shipworms eating away at Christopher Columbus’s ships as decolonial agents.
In Sex Ecologies, bodies are composed of matter as much as of spirit and desire. Mythology meets hxstory, human hair morphs into tree roots, and plastics have reproductive agency. Sex Ecologies highlights the emancipatory role of pleasure and affect beyond the human in our current ecological era, where nature is far from natural. It includes the biological, the technological, the social, and the political. In Sex Ecologies, desire, eros, and care dance with flesh, worms, and spirits.
The exhibition is collectively curated by Kunsthall Trondheim’s team: Stefanie Hessler, director; Carl Martin Faurby, program curator and production manager; Katrine Elise Pedersen, curator and producer; Kaja Grefslie Waagen, assistant curator and communications coordinator; and The Seed Box: Katja Aglert, artistic leader and codirector The Seed Box; Prerna Bishnoi, project manager.
The public program for the exhibition, Convocations, is curated by the center for art, knowledge, and society RAW Material Company. The full program and streaming links are available online.
A book co-published with The MIT Press presents newly commissioned texts by adrienne maree brown, Léuli Eshrāghi, Jack Halberstam, Astrida Neimanis, and many more. The book is available at Kunsthall Trondheim and in our online shop.
The project is made possible through generous support from The Seed Box, funded by The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra) and the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas).