"Trans Human Nature"
Connecting with non-human forms of life, opening up to the plurality of worlds, broadening the scope of sensitivities, and, by doing so, transforming oneself: science-fiction tales and anthropological investigations both consider these mutations a fundamental stake to envision the future. Although these projections are far from being a commonly shared model yet, we are currently witnessing the revalorisation of alternative knowledge, the powers of plants, the re-appropriation of rituals, and are increasingly hearing the whisper of oral transmissions. The projection towards life models that are more ingrained in the natural order is very present in discourses, in a mystification sometimes simplistic because thought on opposition systems. Yet in these confined times, in which the omnipresence of screens and the digitalisation of emotions is draining us as much as it highlights their necessity, it is hard to truly withdraw, to break away. Everything rather pushes us to imagine the necessary mutations through hybridisations and intersections of the various fields. Can the desire to reconnect with the riches of the living stay anchored in the intensity of the experiences lived both in social circles and in the technological infrastructures of the contemporary world?
Trans Human Nature is the story of a personal traverse and of an artistic exploration which, to me, seem to talk about these contemporary challenges. At the end of 2018, Anouk Kruithof sets off to explore Surinam, an unknown small country of Amazonia, a former Dutch colony, the Netherlands being where the artist is from. During her expedition, she discovers a village in the middle of the forest, Botopasi, only connected to civilisation through the river, and this encounter is decisive. After having lived in the great art capitals – Berlin, New York, Mexico, Brussels –, Anouk Kruithof decides to build her house in Botopasi and will live there a transforming experience over several months, until the covid crisis brings her back to Europe. In this village, she works in symbiosis with nature and population.
Settling her practice in this context had an impact on what she was producing there, or rather what was being produced there. Anouk Kruithof stores prints of her digital iconography based images on the pirogues connecting the village, takes the prints with her on forest hikes, immerses them in the river, hides them in the greenery, handles them whilst observing their capacity to become one with a wild, powerful and sometimes also violent nature. The images she produces then come to relate a self-transformation process through the contact with a dense and tropical nature. What happens to becoming stone, to becoming plant, to these hypnotic experiences in which we dilate our pores and our thoughts? Between fascination and fantasy, we trail the artist’s attempts to come closer, to hybridise the wild nature, to produce there an aqueous, liquid surface reflecting our humanity. The vegetal and natural materials intertwine with the faces of transhumanism, distorting them, covering them, multiplying folds and reflections to project onto it mutant, blurred and fertile identities.
All images have titles, and with them comes the time of hindsight and of a narrative assuming the complete ambiguity of the (im)posture. Nature is an extensive decor, wonderful in the desiring energy it generates, and the mirages of these possibly harmonious connections between the universes of digital code and vegetal forms (Code Green). The materials are displayed, mingled, observed and then removed. Anouk Kruithof envisions a Cyberwelness connected to the sand, the stones, the water and the wild forms of life. In a secluded village in Amazonia, where the access to electricity is a daily tenuous victory, she installs this myth of a hybridised, polyphonic and harmonious nature, which we would like to visit ourselves so as to lay there our own fantasies, once Anouk will have fulfilled her dream of turning her house into a place of residency, of transformation for oneself and for others.