Mrova: Landschaft Macht Kapital (2015) still from video, HD video, 16:9, stereo, 5:30 minutes, Dolomites, South Tyrol
On April 2019, the Artist in Residence Eau&Gaz will celebrate its 5th anniversary in Milan. Every year since 2014, the two sisters Kahtrin and Sarah Oberrauch have invited artists to live and to work in Eppan, South Tyrol. For its anniversary, the residence will take place both at its familiar cultural centre of Lanserhaus in Eppan as well as in the space of FuturDome, an independent museum in Milan, over the course of two months.
FuturDome, located in Milan’s western centre, is over four stories high. It houses several apartments where, in the last three years, also contemporary artists such as Andrè Komatsu, Guido van der Werve, Christine Sun Kim, Jason Gomez, Adam Christensen, Paul Kos and many others worked and exhibited. Built in 1913, the building was an headquarters for the last remaining futurists during the 1940s and has remained, actually, a place of debate for new aesthetic currents. Its abandoned renovation site, decommissioned prior to the finishing touches, curiously mirrors this sense of anticipation. The question of an aesthetic and architectural avant-garde lies at the centre of this search within the micro-movements of contemporary art and takes effect in the exhibition The Uncanny Valley.
During its temporary residence at FuturDome, Eau&Gaz would like to shed light on its own premises of collective living by viewing its home location from a distance. The compilation of artists is based on former and current participants of the residency program as well as various positions from South Tyrol. In his essay „The Uncanny“, Sigmund Freud describes the uncanny as something which is both familiar and unfamiliar. It is within ourselves, hidden and suppressed, but nevertheless emerging. Freud refers specifically to etymological components of the German word for the uncanny, „das Unheimliche“. By contrasting the adjective „unheimlich“ (literally un-homely) and its root, „heimlich“ (concealed, hidden, in secret, but also home), he suggests uncanniness („Unheimlichkeit“) to be the inversion of familiarity within unfamiliarity and vice versa. Although the enlightened subject has repressed these mystical remnants, every so often, they resurface to haunt it. The motif of the doppelganger, the continuous return of sameness, the all-pervading power of inner thoughts, forms of suspicion and animism all provoke feelings of uncanniness within us. According to Freud, the uncanny is not, as the German psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch describes it, uncertainty towards the strange and unfamiliar, but the return of the repressed.
“In this case, das Unheimliche (the uncanny) is the formerly familiar, the home. The prefix ‘un’ in this word is the marking of the repressed.” (Freud 1919) In this sense, the uncanny aligns with the unconscious. Both are distinguished by the fact that they lack a clear separation between their opposites, instead mutually intersecting and crossing over. Uncanny Valley is generally known as the phenomenon which marks a breach of empathy when an artificially created character transgresses a certain degree of human resemblance, only resulting in higher levels of acceptance when this “valley” is overcome.
In the exhibition The Uncanny Valley, we would like to emphasise the topographical dimension of the Freudian uncanny. The sanctuary of homeliness changes into uncanniness when repressions resurface. By looking at South Tyrol/Alto Adige, Eau&Gaz would like to explore the premises of collaboration between the supposedly unfamiliar and that which is one’s own, examining mechanisms of displacement and exclusion. After South Tyrol was annexed to Italy a hundred years ago, a definition of home in this case is no longer based on a clear boundary between inside and outside, but on a hybrid constellation, inextricably connecting the two.