As above, so below: a rehearsal for an impasse

This part-inventory, part-essay, part-chronicle weaves together textual and visual references, fragments of literature and the outtakes of the daily landscape in the form of a video commentary on some of the lesser known scientific manuscripts of the past: day-to-day life at the residency is observed both through the lens of history and from the lookout of the present moment, with the library and the hotel being at its visual epicentre.

The artists Katrin Keller and Mia Ćuk have been studying and collecting fragments of cosmological fallacies and confluences of scientific and religious imaginaries that marked the prolific literary output of the 17th-century Jesuit scholar, an eccentric polymath and a disputed innovator Athanasisus Kircher (1602-1680). Emphasizing the poetic capacity of epistemic uncertainties, scientific misconceptions and speculative theories passed on as facts, the research is inspired by Kircher’s two scholarly works sourced at the Andreas Züst library: a strange encyclopedic textbook titled “Mundus Subterraneus”, a peculiar atlas of the natural world and its inner workings, and “Iter Extaticum Coeleste”, a cosmological treatise presented in the form of a celestial dialogue unfolding on a galactic journey.

The video piece is at once an assemblage of working material- books, notes and references being used and discarded in the process of research and a self-reflexive account on the hesitant nature of creating the work.The palimpsest of squences is accompanied by a narration- a mediated dialogue between the two artists discussing the possible directions of the project/ a dialogic rehearsal which comprises the elements of the history of science, religious misticism, natural philosophy and postmodern art, often in a self-satirizing way.

April 2024
Text+Fotos: Katrin Keller, Mia Ćuk