With corridor systems of made up of umbilical-cord-like cables, growling, corporeal ventilation shafts and organs in sacral formations, the up-and-coming Danish artist Marie Munk transforms Gammel Holtegaard into an occult data centre, in which the human body, spirituality and the digital world merge. The Danish visual artist Marie Munk (b. 1988) kicks off this year’s exhibition programme at Gammel Holtegaard with her largest solo exhibition to date.
Big Energy is a kind of occult data centre, in which ice-cold technology encounters the warmth of the biological body. With her playful visual language, Marie Munk creates a sensuous holistic experience, which, with its references to both science fiction and contemporary spirituality, confronts visitors with a surreal vision, in which modern humans have merged with technology.
The exhibition, Big Energy invites visitors into a weird, futuristic corridor system composed of umbilical-cord-like cables, which wind their way through the Baroque architecture of the building, while corporeal ventilation systems hum faintly in the background. The further visitors venture into Big Energy, the more occult and wilder the journey becomes. Munk’s universe is inhabited by organs, which, though familiar from the inside of the human body, still seem totally extra-terrestrial. It all looks very brutal, but it is also enticing and exquisite. By using the extremely lifelike silicone material to color and paint with, Marie Munk creates lifelike, yet shapeless bodily sculptures. The artist establishes a narrative and evolution through her work, spotlighting not only topical societal issues, but also notions of the future. In Marie Munk’s own words, Big Energy is “like a parasite that takes up residence on the site.” In the exhibition, the historic building of the art gallery is like some relic of the past, which has been taken over by a world of the future.
In Big Energy, Marie Munk focuses on issues related to body, spirituality, technology and data, exploring how technological development and innovation leave traces in our society and our bodies. Munk is particularly interested in the development that involves an intertwining of infotech, bio-tech and the commercial world. She is fascinated by the impact on our bodily existence, when digital technologies get close to, and infiltrate our bodies in the shape of smartphones, fitness apps and digital measuring devices etc.: technologies that constantly appeal to our attention, curiosity and urge for self-optimization, as they gather our data. Munk also explores what it means to us when spiritual worship merges with technology, thereby connecting human and digital systems. The artist is partly inspired by the Israeli historian, Yuval Noah Harari’s concept of data-ism. According to Harari, digital technologies, which operate on the basis of vast amounts of data, algorithms, and huge computing power, will soon know us better than we know ourselves, and our faith in them is steadily increasing.
In Big Energy, Marie Munk examines the religious authority of data and imagines the status of data centres. Have these physical halls of the digital world perhaps become quasi sacred places for us? Perhaps this is where we seek to make contact with the inscrutable energies of this world. Has data become the God of our time?