London

Joey Holder, Semelparous, 2020, still from the 7-minute, 47-second 4K video component of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising digital prints, wood, MDF, and paint.

Joey Holder, Semelparous, 2020, still from the 7-minute, 47-second 4K video component of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising digital prints, wood, MDF, and paint.

Joey Holder

Springhealth Leisure Center

By the time female European eels complete their three-thousand-mile, one-to-two-year-long swim from the continent’s rivers back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn, they’ve devoured most of their own skeletons and muscle mass and basically resemble mobile sacks of eggs. Eels are semelparous, meaning they reproduce only once during their lifetime, investing all their energy, body weight, and existential drive (so to speak) in that single journey.

Although European eels are critically endangered (their population is down by roughly 90 percent since the 1970s in great part due to illegal overfishing), Joey Holder’s 2020 video installation Semelparous—housed in the empty swimming pool of an abandoned North London health club—shows huge quantities of the slimy, restless creatures. Whether filmed at a South Korean fish farm or rendered in naturalistic computer graphics, the eels push forward unstoppably,

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the PRINT EDITION of the July/August 2020 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.