Pumping Gas (You’ve Touched on More Water)
10.03 — 17.04. 2022
Sport, in its symbolical and social value, has held a central role in Fathia Mohidin’s practice, as a universally understood signifier, as a practice related to her personal life, and as a metaphorical aerobic step from which to leap and bring us to reflect upon cogent sociological, political and economical over-structures of our society. In Pumping Gas (You’ve Touched on More Water), Mohidin’s first exhibition paired with her long time collaborator, electro-acoustic composer Adele Kosman, the body, its muscles and sweat, becomes a point of departure for a broader reflection into the continuous process of breaking down and regenerating of matter.
The wearing and tearing and subsequent recovering of the body after physical exertion, translates here in an immersive installation that invites us to look deeper into the continuous process of disintegration and regeneration that takes place not only in our bodies, but in all that surrounds us. Starting from the cellular level and up, Mohidin & Kosman question the bodily and mental implications of these never ending processes of rebirth and decay. Water, the main element that composes our masses, assumes a central role in this investigation as the process of sweating and rehydrating takes us directly back to our bodily existence, captured at the same time in the moment and its cyclical nature, giving to the body an ontological and symbolic role. This idea of circularity, of disintegration as a creative process, and of regeneration as the beginning of an ending, informs deeply the quadraphonic sound installation that is central to Pumping Gas (You’ve Touched on More Water). The roughly 20 minutes long composition transports us into a journey of a rarefied yet brutal nature. Accompanied by pulsating beats and frail keyboards, field recordings, watery sounds and digital riffs. Its voices subtly narrate a story of disintegration: “Something has to break” they tell us, “Something always has to break” it is iterated while breaking up in what seems an attempt at reclaiming that this action happens “continuously.” The installation, infused in a blue light that reinforces the otherworldliness of this experience, is completed by sculpturally built concrete seats that invite the viewers to stop, sit down and allow the sound to take control. And, while the body comes into contact with the apparently sturdy material of the seats and abandons itself to the experience, we realise that the same water that our body disperses by living and moving, is what makes concrete particularly subject to disintegration over time.
A last element completes and subtly connects every part of the exhibition: a licking stone for horses. Used to give the animals salts, vitamins and minerals, this unexpected object, leans like an alien stone or a strange healing crystal in the blue light. This direct reference to the process of dehydration and rehydration, and to the instinct leading the body towards assuming the salts it lacks in order to restore itself, leads us back to that cycle of disintegration and regeneration that is life itself and that has informed so much of mankind’s ontological speculations from the origins until now. But, as Carl Jung once wrote: “The purpose of nearly all rebirths rites is to unite the above with the below”(1) and maybe that’s all that it takes to understand this movement intrinsic to all that is, by literally and metaphorically embracing this process connecting A to B, and back, continuously.
Mattia Lullini & Alina Vergnano
(1) Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, p. 259-261.
All pictures courtesy of Fathia Mohidin & Adele Kosman and NEVVEN.
Photography by David Eng.