HYPER! is a new sculpture and performance piece by Danish artist Esben Weile Kjær (*1992) presented in collaboration with Bas Fisher Invitational (BFI, Miami), and Danish curator Anna Frost for No Vacancy with the City of Miami Beach and MBVCA.
With HYPER! Esben Weile Kjær has imagined a luna park-like installation, penetrable and sensorial, composed of inflatable sculptures in the shape of carnivorous flowers the size of a house. Playfully, he propels inside this supernatural decorum performers, which will enter into frenetic dances to electronic music. At once the setting for an elaborate rave party, a stage for a fashion show or an unreal jungle, the inflatable silver flowers become the medium of cathartic trances and the vehicle of unleashed energies. The bodies in motion alternatively jostle, embrace, fight or gather. Here, kisses turn into bites, embraces become brawls, bodies begin to tremble in epileptic convulsions, and the atmosphere becomes electric. Together or solo, the dancers bounce on the soft sculptures, sometimes sinking into them, as if these carnivorous plants were swallowing them. Then they reappear, digested and expelled, with disillusioned expressions.
As a continuous mise en abyme of the image within the image, HYPER! plays with the strategies of a shooting session. During the performance, a photographer takes numerous flash photographs.. The poses and gestures evoke the power games staged in the iconic Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up (1966), a film alluding to the ambiguous relationship between voyeur and exhibitionist through the lens of a camera.
It is no coincidence that the silvery fabric used to make the sculptures is similar to a photographer’s reflector boards, that flat reflective surface used to redirect light towards a subject or scene. Esben Weile Kjær plays with this mirroring surface, which he holds up to us, to his performers, his peers, and ultimately to his own generation. A generation that is said to be narcissistic and that is above all deeply disenchanted, that navigates in the hollow of contradictory injunctions and values. A generation seized and then swallowed up by the digital and technological monster, the one that incites them to a selfistication of their lives, to the obligation of individual success and happiness displayed everywhere on social networks. These bodies that shakes and devour, then are devoured, embody the complexity of being in the world and the subsequent frustration of navigating constantly between desire and repulsion. Whereas the meat eating silver flowers, as dangerous as they are fascinating, represent this hybrid monster that feeds on images, youth and coolness ad infinitum.
HYPER! thus embodies the senseless cannibalism of our relationship to the 3.0 image. In their glamorous and glittering setting, bodies are highlighted and embellished by the gigantic reflector – like an Instagram filter. However, isn’t this quest for beauty and self-reflection terribly destructive? By wanting to admire his own reflection to the point of losing his mind, so dazzled by himself, did the mythic Narcissus (Book 3 of Ovid’s Metamorphosis) not fall into waters so deeply troubled that he lost his life? Or was he seeking, through beauty, the profound meaning of our existence? Narcissus, lost in the abyss, will leave to us only his metamorphosis, a flower that now bears his name.
Text by Séverine Fromaigeat
Photos by Nick Hudson