Dominions is a collaborative installation from Berlin-based Julian Charrière and Andreas Greiner. Having collected mold samples from various locations throughout their respective home countries of Switzerland and Germany, the artists are now breeding the microbes in large glass vitrines throughout PROGRAM's gallery. These architectural petri dishes range in height and placement throughout the exhibition space, an obvious nod to their topographic origin, while the bacteria they contain have yielded differing terrains comprised of muted hues and sloppy textures. The sense of scale in the macro via micro representation is both familiar and fascinating, akin to witnessing unknown geographies from space.
The pillars and exhibition room themselves have been painted a counterintuitive aseptic green. Looking downward at the rapidly multiplying organisms I question the intent of their associated locations. Are these merely receptacles of scientific novelty? The knowledge of their bacterial origins (such as Zug, the richest city in Switzerland or on a pig farm between Hannover and Minden) have a flat-footed sense of intrigue associated with them, but little else comes with the factual insight. Rationally knowing there is no connection between geographic location and mold outcome leaves me wishing that I had no mental connection at all. Truthfully, it makes no difference if these mold samples originated in South Korea or South Dakota and explaining as much distracts from the true point of interest.
At the very crux of what Charrière and Greiner have executed is control, more specifically, structural control over the organic. The visual contrast between living matter and clinical presentation is paramount in Dominions. In a time when man's mark on our landscape extends from deep urban centers to the far reaches of our rural existence, this infrastructurally based process of collecting that the artists embarked on and the compartmentalized means of display, clearly articulates an agenda of man vs. nature. By cultivating life in these vitrines in its most basic form, we are shown an example of this human desire to add logic to something as rudimentary as our humble microbic beginnings.
~Devon Caranicas, a writer living in Berlin.
(Images: Julian Charrière and Andreas Greiner, Installation View; Courtesy Program e.v.)