There will come soft rains

Interview with Jeronimo Voss

1. The exhibition is based on the narrative of a non-human world. This theme defines the context for the artists and visitors as well as for the additional education program. For your project you decided to stage holograms of bookshelves photographed in living rooms. What is your main interest in this topic?

I got the idea when I read about the ancient mythology of Cassandra. Cassandra is the seer that herself isn’t seen. According to Greek mythology her prophecies are ignored by her fellow Trojan citizens because she is cursed by a god whom she refuses to have sex with. As a priest, as a seer, she states that this society will not sustain itself much longer. So she knows about the social crisis that surrounds her – a knowledge that is probably not supernatural given that Troy is besieged by Greek enemy soldiers. As a result, she is not only ignored but even considered a traitor. I think this story speaks a lot about those who still deal with the truth of the current and future social reality and it’s unfolding crisis, how powerless it can feel to analyse and speak about this crisis without being able to directly having an impact on it – just think of the hatred people can face in today’s “post-factual” media world. Allan Sekula once stated: “the old myth that photographs tell the truth has been replaced by the new myth that they lie.” So I decided to stage photographs of bookshelves in a Cassandrian setting. In my view Cassandra’s caves today are living rooms filled with knowledge about the ongoing crisis of the last 3000 years of class society. If humanity will really end in self-extinction one probably would find an answer for how and why this happened in these caves.

2. Where did you find these bookshelves?

In living rooms of people I meet in my everyday life. People I share a conversation with. Then I constructed a framework in which their bookshelves don’t appear isolated but as part of a collective discussion. So maybe I interpret the mythology of Cassandra in a different way than the ancient Greek’s version would suggest. I see her as a realist, rejecting divine authorities, knowing and speaking about a reality in crisis – even though this might not be enough to actually stop the catastrophes from unfolding. In Christa Wolf’s take on this mythology Cassandra’s cave is a communal place of women where she would recover from her priesthood and the physical and mental breakdowns she endured. It’s not a private space but an alternative social model, a place of recovery from the surrounding crisis.

3. One common way to face the crises of our present day world is to explore and establish various strategies of sustainability (e.g. by the use of recyclable materials and energies, the sharing of goods or the collective repairing of things in temporary communities). Do such strategies of sustainability also play a role in your artistic practice?

For me it is very striking to see that up until today the only substantial decrease in carbon emissions is not related to any kind of sustainability policy but to major world economic downturns – like the recent global recession of 2009. So what would happen if our times were no longer dictated by economy? I think this is an interesting question, also for artistic practice. How would an economy of time look like that no longer dominates our lives but instead gives us the necessary space to do what we want? Those bookshelves belong to people that I also share a political discussion with – some of us are currently transforming a former business building into collective dwelling and public working spaces in Frankfurt am Main’s main station area ( – so yes, communal strategies definitely influence my practice.

4. Given the different problems that characterise our late modern world, on which level do you think could art contribute to social and ecological changes? And is art not always at a high risk to again end up in Cassandra`s role within those processes?

I believe the story of Cassandra as the tragic god-rejecting female priest was invented by those who aimed at legitimising their own divine patriarchal order. With Cassandra’s Cave I stage a different mythology. Maybe Cassandra isn’t really interested in preventing a certain kind of crisis. Every piece of art is a parallel world – and some of these worlds can be quite immersive and tempting and some might actually provoke some thinking or just please the market. These parallel realities are models, simulations, options, images; good or bad is not for the artworks to decide.

5. During the last decade the liaison between art and science has been a topic frequently discussed. In this context art was often considered to be a successful tool for the production of alternative forms of knowledge. How do you evaluate this idea?

In my work, if I deal with science, it is just a resource among other resources. I don’t see the difference between a scientific thesis and, for example, a cookbook.

6. Can you suggest a youtube video that deals with a certain aspect of the exhibition (e.g. the non-human scenario, environmental factors or sustainability)?

These are the dystopian dreams of a future climate-proof gated community, protecting itself from the environment it destroyed and the populations it considers superfluous:

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Tous Artist Interviews

Soft Rains – 

Filippa Pettersson & Tamara Antonijevic interview on 7AM

The performance is set in an office environment under water, where the audience can witness three creatures doing their routines. I wouldn’t call it a futuristic scenario, it’s rather an impression of these imagined beings that look and act a lot like humans. However, as the performance unfolds, it becomes clear that there is something off about them and that they are maybe not human at all.

I have 5 questions Mr. Orlow

1. What does the idea of a non-human world mean to you? Do you see it as an inspiring artistic proposition or as a real possibility for the near future? The world is non-human, we are the last to arrive to the party - and we are definitely spoiling the fun.

5 Questions with Mario Pfeifer

1. What does the idea of a non-human world mean to you? Do you see it as an inspiring artistic proposition or as a real possibility for the near future? I would say it's a rather scary proposition. Therefore it can be an inspiring idea for an artist. In my case, I find it more inspiring to think about how to avoid such a scenario and wonder what would the conditions for a non-human world be: war, disaster—or an outlook on a better habitat than we currently live in. How realistic is it? Well, it's more realistic with world leaders who use language like, “We are going to bomb the shit out of you,” or, “Climate change is a hoax,” than with more progressive thinkers who want to make sure we live a sustainable life on earth. Another aspect is that innovators preparing for civilian space travel might conquer another habitat and make it unattractive to stay on Earth for a certain group of civilians, namely the rich, the smart, and the biologically most advanced human beings. It's inspiring to think critically about these conditions, but I am more in favour of making life on Earth more equal and sustainable.

Pinar Yoldas

1. What does the idea of a non-human world mean to you? Do you see it as an inspiring artistic proposition or as a real possibility for the near future? I do not get a kick out of the possibility of a non-human world. Since humans emerged as a species who dominated the planet, a world without humans would mean that our models for civilization failed us. I do not find inspiration in the mass failure of human cultures, to live harmoniously with other organisms inhabiting Earth. My inspiration comes from the intrinsic and undeniable beauty of the natural world in its all complexity to the point that we understand it with our science or by other means we have been endowed with. Yet it is very humbling to accept that human beings may or may not be around let’s say in the next 500 years. It is the same kind of humbling thought that one could get when one understands their own death.

Will There Come Soft Rains?
with Carolina Caycedo

1. What does the idea of a non-human world mean to you? Do you see it as an inspiring artistic proposition or as a real possibility for the near future? It's a world where we understand that processes of representation and of production of knowledge are not exclusively human. A non/human world is a pluriverse where many worlds are possible, instead of a Universe where everything is determined by the white male colonizer human experience.  In many places of Latin America the post human evidences itself today, the fact that the earth is a subject with rights as determined in the constitutions or Bolivia or Ecuador, or that in Colombia the Atrato River has also gained legal rights, are more institutional manifestations. But if you look at the everyday of indigenous and rural communities in the Andean regions, and the Amazon Basin, amongst others, you will find post human worlds, where water, rocks, stones, emeralds, fish, corn and other non/human spirits are considered social active agents in the everyday socio-politics of the community. The Colombian sociologist Arturo Escobar calls this 'Pensamiento de la Tierra' (Thought of the Earth), it manifests through a vast array of popular movements across the continent that are based on their unique and constitutive relation to localized nature and to their territories. For these communities, the rivers, the mountains, even the forest are like family, and they take on active roles in the collective efforts of territorial resistance against extractivist industries.  For example, a river can overflow to halt the construction of a dam, or the ground can tremble to complicate a mine operation.  So actually I think that there are non-human worlds happening today, they have been happening for millennia, but colonial and extractivist structures have made a great deal to erase them.