James Bridle and Jonas Staal

In this joint exhibition, artists James Bridle and Jonas Staal enlist various nonhuman entities to imagine a natural world without personhood at its center. Staal’s multiform installation Comrades in Deep Future, 2019–, extends agency to extinct plants and animals that take the form of paintings and weavings, allowing them the opportunity to tell their story in an open-air tribunal. Centered around a video made with Indian academic, writer, and lawyer Radha D’Souza titled The Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes, 2021–, the work reframes its nonhuman participants as laborers, slyly dramatizing the anthropocentrism of environmental law and ethics tout court. Bridle’s Signs of Life, 2022, is a series of sculptures that takes its name from Werner Herzog’s 1968 film Lebenszeichen, in which three German soldiers go mad upon encountering a field of windmills in Greece. Speaking to wind, fruit, and animals that contribute to “clean” energy, the artist suggests how aspects of the eco-industry often obfuscate the relationship between environmentalism and colonialism, perhaps most absorbingly in five Solar Panels, 2022, etched with German zoologist and polymath Ernst Haeckel’s lysergic drawings of unicellular, sun-loving plankton. Widely influential in the field of biology, Haeckel’s beguiling symmetries betray an obsession with hierarchy that snuggles up to protofascism while ironically serving to remind viewers of the amorality and unnaturalness of art itself.

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