Following the solo exhibition of Max Hooper Schneider at High Art, Anna Solal writes about Natural Theatre of Violent Succession.
Painted in black, the Parisian gallery High Art welcomes the works – mostly sculptures in movement – of L.A. based artist Max Hooper Schneider. His baroque, disastrous dioramas are presented through a slot machine, an aquarium and a mundane dishwasher – commodities that essentially serve the purpose of making our life more comfortable and entertaining. Hooper Schneider, who often uses living leeches, beluga mussels or freshwater snails in his works, highlights here the creation of tropical and swampy settings, illuminated by chaotic multicolor fluorescent lights in the spirit of Jason Rhoades.
The environment is destroyed but not dead: whereas rotten bits and parts are swarming, the vegetation is growing and diversifying. When sliding a coin inside the slot machine, one might have the chance to meet a big gesticulating cockroach, reading us the future through its crystal ball. The work Cold War Dishwasher (Uranium Glass), a washing machine with an interior as black as night, is occupied by a colony of minuscule fish, still alive, whirling around fluorescent tableware, which sheds light on them. The cylindrical form of champagne glasses and lemon squeezer reminds us of domes – of toxically radiated, dismantled architecture. This familiar object – a washing machine – ends up resembling more of a small, pathetic bunker plunged into obscurity.
In the masterpiece Existenz which resembles the series Z, the vision of the future paradoxically confronts a return towards the archaic and muddy past, where technological mutations lead to game boys which take the shape of cyst. In the work of Max Hooper Schneider, prehistoric and repulsive insects proliferate: woodlouse, beetles, amphibians of every sort, construct their viscous installations.
In the middle of the exhibition space, we can find a small android coming alive, with its altered, dusty and metallic body. In contrast to a work of DIS, it is not an image print of Wall-E made in Pixar and suspended in a whiteness dominated by the language found in publicities, but more like a residue resulting from an experimentation, something extracted from the sticky floor. This unproductive and forgotten machine, blinks its eyes painfully, feeling dazed of finding itself here: visibly desiring to survive, whereas further away, suspicious sky blue liquid is running in a washbasin.
The abstract drawings suspended from chains differ from each other, whereas the meticulous character of pastel patterns is repeated: even though those with less geometry alludes to the works of the Swiss artist-healer Emma Kunz who interests in telepathy. This interest to mix the artistic practice together with scientific one, was initiated by Art & Technology program set up by LACMA at the end of the sixties. With another work of Max Hooper Schneider, shown at the Californian fair Paramount Ranch, however not present in this exhibition, the visitors could approach a pink coffin, whose interior revealed a recreated marine environment composed of turtles, fish and crayfish. The floor of these installations is burned, inundated but fertile. Between the mutant installations of Alisa Baremboym and the pop spirit of Michele Abeles, the artist spreads the idea that in the world, which is no longer populated by humans, life goes on.