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The exhibition Hardscapes brings together two large-scale works that draw attention to circulation, transformation and unexpected forms of cohabitation.

Energy Budget (2017-2018), made in collaboration with Robin Watkins, is a silent video work that alternates between two sites. Situated in a basement, it shows a leopard slug slowly navigating an electrical enclosure.
Seemingly blending into a hybrid form, the slug’s muscular fluctuations respond to defunct circuits and palimpsest electric fields, almost becoming a part of the infrastructural environment. The screen itself, a wall of Light Emitting Diodes, relays the intimate moving images of the slug by way of voltage variations.

The sequence that follows is captured up high, framing portal-like openings in massive, curved buildings on the waterfront in Telegraph Bay, Hong Kong. These passageways are known as “dragon holes” and are the result of human engineering, allowing dragons to pass through dense apartment blocks, as they descend from the mountains to drink and bathe in the ocean below. Focusing on the apparent emptiness that constitutes the dragon’s path, the camera steadily zooms out using compressed air to control the motion of the lens.

The absence of sound in the video allows for the floor-based sculpture to speak up from the ground, filling the space with presence. Broken downand transformed by the density of moving bodies, Muscle Memory (16 Tonnes) (2021), literally crumbles under the shoe-soles of visitors. While brittle in comparison to our constructed environment, the seashells from marine molluscs are in fact the raw material which form the basis of most of our own buildings, including the original floor of the Officine Grandi Riparazioni. As such, calcium carbonate is not just a fundamental component of concrete, but also an essential condition for various forms of cohabitation. Material stress is part of the slow geological processes and animal-mineral transformations that feed the construction industry, but here it becomes a means of sculpting. The work gives way to a sudden fracture, reminding us of the ineffable amount of bodies that hold us up. Muscle Memory (16 Tonnes) was originally commissioned by GAMeC, and has been repurposed into a new spatiotemporal installation that takes the history of OGR as a site of repair into consideration—as ruin and resource.

Nina Canell once made a sculpture for ten people that caused the electricity in their homes to go out simultaneously and unannounced once every month for a year. The transfer and distribution of energy has been an integral preoccupation of her work since the beginning, often working with situations that are highly sensitive to spatio-temporal variables. Grounded as much in the chance encounter as in close study, her sculptural process foregrounds material agency.

Nina Canell was born 1979 in Växjö, Sweden, went to art school in Dublin, and currently lives and works in Berlin. She has had solo museum exhibitions in Switzerland, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea, Sweden, France, Germany and England. Canell has taken part in the Venice, Cuenca, Sydney, Lyon, and Liverpool biennials, as well as group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Witte de With, Rotterdam; the ICA, London; and Guggenheim, Bilbao among others. Nina Canell frequently collaborates with Robin Watkins on installations, artist’s books and publications.