Basel | ArtRegion: Basel - Oberrhein
Dries Segers / Suzanna Zak: Our companion, our other
28. Februar – 24. Mai 2020
‘Our companion, our other’ is a two-person exhibition of emerging artists Dries Segers and Suzanna Zak, whose practices use different photographic processes to explore animals, organisms and environments in relation to humans interaction with them.
‘Our companion, our other’ uses each artists unique narratives to weave together stories of human and non-human companionship. Through their thoughtful and sensitive use of subjects and material, Zak and Segers empathetically explore what it means to be together in cohabitation with others, trying to understand our shared relationships with the species we hold close.
Drawing closely from Joseph Bueys’ iconic work ‘I Like America and America Likes Me’ (1974), as well as the theorists Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing, ‘Our companion, our other’ situates companionship as a site of vulnerability and communication. For Beuys, who’s work saw him cohabit a room with a coyote for 3 days in America, direct communication and understanding is a fundamental part of healing a divide. For Haraway and Tsing, communications with other species is more nuanced and sublime, particularly as we begin to understand the complexities and interrelations of them.
Each of these forms of communication involve being vulnerable, both metaphorically and physically, with another to achieve encounters that become transformative. Segers and Zak have engaged in a listening exercise to understand our changing relationship to the species we hold closely, attempting to further understand what it means to cohabit spaces presently as compared to historically.
Zak explores landscapes and locations through a shared experience with her dog whom she relates to wolves and their historic position as North America and Central Europe’s apex predator. She traces their narrative from this point, through to becoming an endangered and protected species, speculating on possible histories, presents and futures of human’s cohabitation with them. As well as presenting work from her series of ‘bricks’, Zak has developed a new photographic installation and sculptural intervention within the gallery with the intention of replicating a habitat.
Segers practice uses photography to explore human and non-human relations as well as invisible systems of existence. In his new series ’The Natural Contract’ developed for ‘Our companion, our other’, Segers has photographed trees which have been planted and grown at specific geographic locations as signifiers for borders or significant locations. As time has gone on, the geopolitical landscape of these locations has changed resulting in alterations to boarders and sites of importance. The trees relationships to their locations, as well as with the people who relied on their communicative power, has been revised and they now function through their vulnerability to the landscape. Segers has also produced new hand sculptures for the exhibition which uses photochromic paint that reacts to temperature and light changes, reflecting the changing nature of relationships.