Joey Holder “Abyssal Seeker [Demersal Zone]” Seventeen Gallery / London

May 3, 2021

Joey Holder’s first solo exhibition at the gallery depicts a slow, aquatic journey to a fictional brine lake at the bottom of an unnamed ocean. Protagonists float in and out of the story, semi fictionalised versions of invertebrates, hybridised and constantly shifting. These arrivants are situated in two scenes in the two rooms of the gallery. The first contains a photographic installation set in a rocky, arid landscape composed of architectural drawings of panopticons, subtle diagrams of DNA, human evolutionary charts – the landscape itself is formed of these diagrams and symbols of surveillance and categorisation, human interpretation of organic processes.

The second room holds a video installation that transports the viewer to the sea floor. The oceanic abyss envelops the viewer via a semi circular screen across which a digitally rendered environment is projected. This work initially might seem to recall Jules Verne’s series of novels set under the sea, which transposed themes from Homer’s Odyssey to the crucible of 19th Century colonial expansion. While the colonial project of exploration employed naming and categorisation to enable ownership, the beings in Holder’s world attempt to evade identification, classification and subsequent commodification. Holder’s brine lake represents a place beyond mapping, the deep sea as a metaphor for the limit of human knowledge, a place beyond categorisation, beyond monetary value, beyond the colonial project of taxonomy.

This exhibition represents an optimistic speculation of an acceleration to a dark future, an alternative metaphor for escaping surveillance and the cast of the net. This show is about a more positive future, an escape to a dark, safe place beyond data.

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