Sentient Matter

Artists: Diana Barquero Pérez, Kerem Ozan Bayraktar, David Blandy, Elmas Deniz, HUNITI GOLDOX, Johanna Linsley, Emmy Mikelson, Tina Ribarits, Liz Rosenfeld, Sadie Weis

Co-curators: Tuçe Erel and Tina Ribarits

Since the late 20th century, (social) sciences have challenged our understanding of human nature, loosened the divide between “human” and what we are accustomed to calling “nature”, and proven that there is life and agency beyond the biological world as we know it.

Serpil Oppermann calls this “storied matter”, which “in the form of active creativity, emerges through the interplay of natural-cultural forces, trajectories, and flows, forming constellations of matter and meanings. Elements, cells, genes, atoms, stones, water, landscapes, machines, among innumerable others, are embodied narratives, repositories of storied matter.” (1)

The research-based group exhibition Sentient Matter features ten artistic positions that explore this “subjectified universe” (2) around us – a material world interconnected with both human and the myriad of more-than-human entities – animated, potent and impactful but also bearing the inscriptions of human (un)kindness. The project brings together video, audio and installative works that engage with these concepts in a speculative, humorous and poetic manner. The exhibition is accompanied by talks (online and offline), a performance by Johanna Linsley and a curators’ tour and a workshop by artist duo HUNITI GOLDOX.

The workshop with the title Flüssige Stadt und Trockene Gärten (Liquid City and Dry Gardens) (July 2021) constituted the starting point for artist duo HUNITI GOLDOX’s VR and video-installation, titled EYTRHA. They invited a group of participants to engage collectively with the aquatic landscape of Leipzig and its surroundings.

During a 3‑day excursion, participants were looking for the physical traces of interventions and violence that persists in present systems and asking: how to search for alliances and calibrate for life forms that exist beyond liquid surfaces? And how can we reveal the territories and ghosts that linger under those mutated grounds, and how can mythological imaginations unpack matter and make it speak? The outcome of their research will be presented in the form of a lecture-performance for the online closing event on 12.12.2021.

Due to the lockdown in Saxony, the exhibition is closed between November 22 to December 12. The exhibition is digitally available on D-21’s webpage.

(1) Oppermann, S. (2018) Storied Matter, in Braidotti, R. and Hlavajova, M. (eds) Posthuman glossary. London; New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 411 – 414.
(2) Le Guin, U.K. (2017) Deep in Admiration, in Tsing, A.L. et al. (Hg.) Arts of living on a damaged planet: Ghosts and monsters of the Anthropocene. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press. M‑15–21.

Sentient Matter, 2021, exhibition view (left to right: Diana Barquero Pérez, Johanna Linsley, Emmy Mikelson, David Blandy) D-21, Leipzig. Photographer: Michael Moser
Sentient Matter, 2021, exhibition view (left to right: Tina Ribarits, David Blandy, HUNITI GOLDOX, Elmas Deniz, Diana Barquero Pérez), D-21, Leipzig. Photographer: Michael Moser
Sadie Weis, ‘Quantum Jelly’, 2020-2021, in Sentient Matter, D-21 Leipzig. Photographer: Michael Moser
Sentient Matter, 2021, exhibition view (left to right: Elmas Deniz, Diana Barquero Pérez), D21, Leipzig. Photographer: Michael Moser
Opening performance by Johanna Lindsey: ‘Ghost Dog Rise’ on 20 November 2021.
Online conversation with artists David Blandy, Emmy Mikelson and Kerem Ozan Bayraktar on 5 December 2021.
Online closing event with Elmas Deniz, Diana Barquero Pérez and HUNITI GOLDOX on 12 December 2021.