Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen

Ernst Schering Foundation
Unter den Linden 32-34
January 22, 2015–May 3, 2015

View of “Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen: assemble | standard | minimal,” 2015.

Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen’s latest exhibition posits works of art in the age of bioengineered reproduction. The playful and speculative nature of their projects leaves the less-scientifically-informed viewer to wonder what is real and what is a hoax. In Pigeon d’Or, 2011, a series of interventions has been filmed in which biologists work together with pigeon fanciers in order to develop bacteria that will modify the birds to make them shit soap. Sterile, 2014, gives us goldfish that have been engineered so as to hatch without reproductive organs; each of the forty-five specimens was produced exclusively for the artists by a biologist in Japan and is considered by the artists to be a work of art rather than an animal. An unplugged machine that is allegedly capable of replicating this process of fish production is also present here, leaving it up to the spectator to decide whether to turn it on.

Can sense even be made, or does it become the ethical foe of scientific endeavor in this brave age of technogenetic discovery? Finally, Cohen & van Balen rented a factory in China for two days in order to manufacture a completely useless product, resembling a cross between a clothing iron, a cement block, and a radio. The point, however, was its means of manufacture: The artists choreographed an elaborate, jerky, and robotic dance for the workers to perform along the assembly line that would lead to the production of the object. The filmed result in 75 Watt, 2013, is a neo-Futurist ballet for an era in which even our most basic functions are soon to be outsourced.

Travis Jeppesen