Penumbra—Hannah Black and Juliana Huxtable | May 15, 16
Hannah Black’s video installation, Beginning, End, None, takes the cell, the building block of all living organisms, as its starting point. Questioning the classic analogy of the cell as “factory,” Black explores the ideological aura of this comparison, which implicitly naturalizes the factory and commodifies the cell. Meanwhile, biotech has now made the analogy real by treating cells as sites of production.
Using found, personal, and laboratory footage, Black explores the leakiness of metaphoric and real transmissions between concepts of biology and society. Across three screens, the video proposes that our understanding of the material substance of life is haunted by containment and force, connecting the cell with the prison, the slave ship and industrial production. Past and present forced labor regimes provide the ground for the biological categorisations that appear here in purified form, as spectral technical images.
Warning: This video contains strobe effects.
Photo: mumok / Klaus Pichler, courtesy of Hannah Black and Arcadia Missa (cropped into heart)