Microscopic beings moving with the ocean currents are generally referred to as plankton. They are scarcely recognisable by the human eye, but the cycle of life cannot be imagined without them. They are the essential foundation of the food chain of marine ecosystems, and are responsible for biochemical processes vital to life, such as photosynthesis.
Cyanobacteria, too, are involved in photosynthesis. More than three billion years ago, they developed as one of the first forms of life in a climate with almost no oxygen. By using photosynthesis to harness light and transforming CO2into oxygen, they gradually changed the composition of the atmosphere. Through the symbiotic processes of these early forms of bacteria, increasingly complex forms of life began to develop.
Today, meaning since industrialisation and the technological development of fossil fuels, vast quantities of CO2 are again being released. As a consequence, we are experiencing rapid mutation in the global climate, leading us to question life as we know it. At the same time, the majority of oil extracted today came originally from ocean microbes – that is, plankton – and dead biomass, which is broken down and compressed over millions of years, loaded with energy from the sun.
The Heavy Air That Surrounds Us points towards the agency of micro-organisms, rethinking the materiality of our world. Can we imagine a world beyond humanity? The journey to the origin of life takes us to the dimension of geological time, and in doing so, it brings us to contemplate the very fragile nature of our present.
Anaïs Senli (Barcelona, 1980) is an artist and an independent curator. She studied at the University of Fine Arts in Barcelona and graduated from the Universität der Künste in Berlin. In 2006 she received the Post-Graduate Diploma “Meisterschülerin” with Professor Bernd Koberling. Senli studied philosophy at the Universidad Nacional a Distancia Española UNED. In 2016 she received a Master’s degree in “Art in Context” at the UdK with professor Claudia Hummel. Senli has participated in numerous exhibitions in Spain and Germany, in spaces like Hangar (ES), Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien (DE), Kunsthaus Erfurt (DE), Haus am Lützowplatz/Studiogalerie (DE), Gallery Wedding (DE), GlogauAir (DE). In Barcelona, she is represented by Sala Parés since 2005. She was awarded the first prize at XLVI Premio a la pintura joven (young painters competition) at Galerie Sala Parés, Barcelona; the Dorothea Konwiartz Stiftung Grant, Berlin; the Funding for the Presentation of Contemporary Art by the Berlin Senate and the Research Grant by the Berlin Senate. She has also participated in Berlin´s Gallery Weekend (DE), the International Contemporary Art Fair SWAB (ES) and the Fair Arts Libris (ES). Senli’s work is in the Fundació Banc de Sabadell collection. With a background in painting, she has come to expand in recent years to video art and installation, while at the same time engaging in curatorial projects. The themes she explores throughout the various branches of her practice are rooted in feminist theory, ecological thought, and science philosophy.
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