ABYSSAL SEEKER (2021)
Abyssal Seeker depicts a slow, aquatic journey to a fictional brine lake at the bottom of an unnamed ocean. Protagonists float in and out of the story, semi-fictionalised versions of invertebrates, hybridised and constantly shifting. These arrivants are situated in two scenes: the first contains a photographic installation, set in a rocky, arid landscape composed of architectural drawings of panopticons, subtle diagrams of DNA, human evolutionary charts – the landscape itself is formed of these diagrams and symbols of surveillance and categorisation, of human interpretation of organic processes. The second is a liquid environment that transports the viewer to the sea floor where the oceanic abyss envelops the viewer.
This work initially might seem to recall Jules Verne’s series of novels set under the sea, which transposed themes from Homer’s Odyssey to the crucible of 19th-century colonial expansion. While the colonial project of exploration employed naming and categorization to enable ownership, the beings in Holder’s world attempt to evade identification, classification and subsequent commodification. Holder’s brine lake represents a place beyond mapping, the deep sea as a metaphor for the limit of human knowledge, a place beyond categorisation, beyond monetary value, beyond the colonial project of taxonomy.
This artwork represents an optimistic speculation of an acceleration to a dark future, an alternative metaphor for escaping surveillance and the cast of the net, and about a more positive future, an escape to a dark, safe place beyond data.
Digital Prints, Projection. Laser Cut MDF, Living Ivy, Sound System
Galerie Kandlhofer, Vienna
Digital prints, TV. Wooden Ashtray, Soil, Wooden Fireplace
Through decimated research on the complex migration of European eels, their reproduction and biological makeup, Holder examines the irreplicable forces of the natural world.
‘Semelparous’ characterises a species that undertakes a single reproductive episode before death. A unique and generative strategy in which the organism puts all available resources into maximising reproduction at the expense of future life. Each autumn, European eels leave their freshwater river homes and migrate more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, to the bottom of the Sargasso Sea, to breed once. The eels’ reproductive life has eluded scientists and philosophers for centuries, as humans have never witnessed nor recorded their spawning rituals.
Semelparous revolves around Holder’s newest video work where the eel is depicted as a mythological symbol, a biological specimen, and its most controversial role: food. Unable to replicate the species’ enigmatic reproductive life in captivity, young European eels have been extracted and illegally trafficked to farms throughout various regions of Eastern Asia. These practices have severely impacted their numbers, and as of 2011, the European eel is still critically endangered.
Responding to the eels’ population crisis and spawning migration, Semelparous is a monument to the European eel. Through its immersive nature and biological sources, Semelparous speculates on our inability to replicate or decipher the encoded phenomenon present within an organism’s biological makeup.
ADCREDO – THE DEEP BELIEF NETWORK (2018)
Bloc Projects, QUAD, Matt’s Gallery, 6th Athens Biennale & Design Museum, London
‘Adcredo – The Deep Belief Network’ is a series of installations developed across several sites, as well as a research and discussion platform.
Taking a fictional data-analysis company called Adcredo as her starting point, Holder explores the role that online networks can play in the construction of belief. Across a series of exhibitions at Bloc Projects in Sheffield, QUAD in Derby, Matt’s Gallery, London, and the 6th Athens Biennale, Holder expands this fictional world to examine the rise of unjust ideologies and fantasies, and how they might affect our worldview.
The work develops a series of avatars that Holder has worked with across the project. CGI talking heads stand in for Kanye West, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Peter Thiel alongside otherworldly creatures drawn from the artist’s online research into conspiracy theories and synchromysticism. The work exists against a techno-socio-political backdrop of fake news, conspiracy theory, cyber-espionage and political populism.
BIO / Joey Holder (b. 1986 in London, UK) is transmedia artist based between London and Nottingham.
Joey Holder’s work raises philosophical questions of our universe and things yet unknown, regarding the future of science, medicine, biology and human-machine interactions.
Working with scientific and technical experts, she creates immersive, multimedia installations that explore the limits of the human and how we experience non-human, natural and technological forms. Mixing elements of biology, nanotechnology and natural history against computer program interfaces, screensavers and measuring devices, she suggests the impermanence and interchangeability of these apparently contrasting and oppositional worlds: ‘everything is a mutant and a hybrid’.
Connecting forms which have emerged through our human taste, culture and industrial processes, she investigates complex systems that dissolve notions of the ‘natural’ and the ‘artificial’. GM products, virtual biology and aquatic creatures are incorporated into an extended web, challenging our perception of evolution, adaptation and change.
Artwork by Joey Holder
Creatures and film scenography by Yuma Burgess
Sound Design by 33EMYBW
Graphics by Raphaël de La Morinerie
Essay by Theo Reeves-Evison
Catalogue design by Hanzer Liccini
Artwork by Joey Holder
Curated by Julia Greenway Semelparous
ADCREDO – THE DEEP BELIEF NETWORK
Artwork by Joey Holder
The research platform for this project can be found at randomforest.site
Produced with the generous support of Arts Council England
Music by AJA, City and i.o. Font design by Alex Walker
Audio/Visual programming by Matt Woodham
Writing by Bert Preece
Rock face built by Matthew Tully