Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller
Cubitt Gallery, 16 April–29 May 2011
Opening: Friday 15 April, 6.30–8.30pm
7.30pm: Performance of an American president’s dedication to the White House solar installation
Saturday 16 April, 2.30pm: A Road Not Taken (2010), film screening and Q&A with the artists
Cubitt Gallery presents the first UK solo exhibition by Swiss artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller. Through performance, video, sculptural-recreation, text and archive material, Hemauer and Keller explore two short-lived experiments with solar energy, both marking points of change or crisis in the history of oil consumption.
Latitudes recently collaborated with Hemauer and Keller for Portscapes (2009–10) (see making of video) and the solo show United Alternative Energies, at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Aarhus, Denmark (22 January–3 April 2011).
The exhibition will present Sun of 1913 (2009), which looks back to the first commercial-scale solar power plant, which American engineer Frank Shuman built in Maadi near Cairo in 1913. However, the plant ceased operation after one year, at the onset of World War I, as the British Government began mass-scale crude oil production in Iran, precipitating a widespread turn to oil. A video projection shows the reconstruction of two segments of the plant by the artists and craftsmen in Cairo.
A Curiosity, a Museum Piece and an Example of a Road not Taken (2006-2007) investigates former American president Jimmy Carter’s pioneering but ultimately futile energy programme. It culminated in his symbolic solar installation on the White House roof during the 1979 energy crisis, which was removed by the Ronald Regan administration.
Using re-creation and re-enactment to revitalise the optimism of these pioneering projects, Hemauer and Keller also highlight the time that has since lapsed; that these were “roads not taken”. They revisit episodes in the history of oil and solar energy to ask questions about the present energy situation: increased dependence on, and continued conflict over, fossil fuels.
Christina Hemauer (born 1973 Zurich, Switzerland) and Roman Keller (born 1969 Liestal, Switzerland) live in Zurich, Switzerland. Recent exhibitions include United Alternative Energies, Centre for Contemporary Art, Aarhus, Denmark, curated by Latitudes (2011) and the 11th Cairo International Biennale, Cairo (2009).
Exhibition curated by Fiona Parry.
Saturday 16 April 2.30 pm
A Road Not Taken (2010), 66 mins
Film screening and Q&A with the artists
This will be the UK premier of Hemauer and Keller’s documentary road trip film A Road Not Taken (2010). The film is structured around the conceptual act of finding and donating two of Carter’s solar panels to American history museums as the “museum pieces” he warned they might become. Through interviews (including with Carter) and archive footage the film investigates Carter’s energy programme in the context of his foreign policy on Iran during the 1979 oil crisis.
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