Through October 30, 2022, the interactive exhibition sees Ad forgoing conventional approaches to gallery space. Rather than being limited to frames and canvases, the colorful artwork in this exhibition takes up entire walls and flows along the floor. Biosfera Plush / Biosphere Plush transforms Tats St Ives into a fantasy world that merges ideas around modern art, social justice, internet subcultures and science & fiction.
As its name suggests, the exhibition takes Biosphere 2 as its starting point. For those not in the know, Biosphere 2 was the largest Earth science experiment in the world. Launched in the Arizona desert in 1984, it saw eight people live in airtight domes to determine if humans could create and sustain life in artificial environments such as space stations.
For Ad, however, Biosphere was interesting because it highlighted the colonial and capitalist intentions of space exploration. And given that Ad’s work is also shaped by feminist and queer thought, it’s no surprise that the project also highlighted for them the perpetuation of a patriarchal, monocultural society.
Biosfera Plush/Biosphere Plush is a subversion of the ideals that flourished in Biosphere 2. Ad’s experimental station values abstract identities, experiences and forms above all else, manifested through gigantic colorful murals and other installations such as a set of human-sized Furry mannequins.
“Within the imagined biosphere, the artist’s new Fables (Butterfly and Flowers) series works use color and form to deconstruct gender roles,” Tate St Ives said in a statement. “These are shown alongside works from Minoliti’s Space Playset series, often referred to as ‘cyborg paintings’ because of their origins as spray-painted images that are digitally manipulated, printed and then hand painted over .”
Elsewhere, the space is also inhabited by hybrid creatures that reference cartoons and other popular contemporary subcultures online. Named “Furries”, these human-sized avatars have non-binary names and wear clothing designed by Ad and his collaborator Lam Hoi Sin.
“By bringing together insights from queer and feminist theory, animalism and childhood, Minoliti further encourages viewers to think beyond the categorizations we make between things – male and female, earthly and extraterrestrial, art and everyday life.
Another focal point of the exhibition is the Minoliti school of feminist painting. This anti-art school sees the gallery space become an active classroom; it is only in these experiential sessions that feminist and queer theories are central to the lesson plan. “Through discussions and hands-on artistic activities, visitors are invited to participate in the reconstruction of a new world that relies on generosity and cooperation.” Sounds more fun than double math.
Originally produced by the BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art, where it was curated by Irene Aristizábal, Biosfera Plush / Biosphere Plush has been creatively adapted for Tate St Ives in collaboration with Anne Barlow and Giles Jackson.
If you want to immerse yourself in the progressive biosphere of Ad, you have until October 30 to descend to the gallery. Admission is free for members, or you can book online to secure your visit.