Platform - Emilie Alstrup x Anna Bak
The exhibition MANTIS is Emilie Alstrup’s first solo exhibition in Denmark. A consistent theme in Alstrup’s practice is the fusion between biology, technology and transformations of the human body as well as the balance between the ever-growing opportunities of science and the ethnical grey zones that can arise in development.
In the exhibition MANTIS, Alstrup tackles the phenomenon of exoskeletons. A term for an outer skeleton that protects the soft and vulnerable interior. Unlike humans, who have an internal skeleton that supports their soft outer body, most insects have an exoskeleton. One example is the mantis to which the title of the exhibition also refers. The European mantis (Mantis religiosa) is a skilled predator that can sit completely motionless and blend in with its surroundings. Its front legs are some of the most effective hunting tools in the animal world. The anatomical design of the mantis has inspired the development and creation of exoskeletons designed for the human body.
The optimized body
For centuries, humans have looked to nature, including insects, to find inspiration for optimising their bodies and physical abilities. This concept is called "biomimicry" or "biomimetics." Exoskeletons are an example of the development of a mechanical framework that can be added to the human body and is designed to improve strength, mobility and protection. These exoskeletons can be used in a variety of applications, from medical rehabilitation to military use.
The bodily absence
In Alstrup's exhibition, we enter a dark room in which small islands are highlighted under spotlights and terrarium-like lamps. Here lie some transparent shells which in size and shape fit a human body but to a greater extent resemble the remains from a moult of a gigantic insect. The cavity in the transparent shells testifies to the bodily absence. They are made to cover or protect something, but as they are left in the space, they have either not lived up to their purpose or, on the contrary, been the most resistant and are now left alone, like ghosts of a lost battle.
The dystopian staging Alstrup uses for her sculptural constellations points to the ethical and moral dilemmas that can be connected with our technological development, questions about responsibility, control and how far we can go in transcending our biological body and still call ourselves human.
MANTIS is supported by Statens Kunstfond. The exhibition space Platform is suppoted by Det Obelske Familiefond.
When: 15. december 2023 - 21. januar 2024.