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In the dimly lit expanse of the MU Hybrid Art House, an otherworldly terrain unfolds. Cocoon-like structures dangle, resembling sheltering bandages, within a breathing landscape that conceals secret lakes. The surreal setting forms the backdrop for WOMBTOMBS by Boogaerdt/VanderSchoot and Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti: an exhibition that invites visitors to muse upon the twilight between creation and dissolution.

Partnering with shaman Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti, the artist duo Boogaerdt/VanderSchoot delves into an array of realities at MU Hybrid Art House in Eindhoven, traversing virtual realms to dreamscapes. Drawing inspiration from the concept of ‘hospicing modernity’, introduced by Brazilian activist Vanessa Machado de Oliveira in her book Hospicing Modernity: Facing Humanity’s Wrongs and the Implications for Social Activism (2021), WOMBTOMBS serves as a meditation on the inevitable decay of our contemporary society and the role of the ritual in navigating this transition.

The setup of WOMBTOMBS immerses visitors in a labyrinthine journey. The exhibition space is shrouded in darkness, evoking a sense of quiet introspection. Hundreds of cocoons, varying in size, hang while clever projection mappings reflected on the floors create the illusion of lakes rippling underfoot. As you walk through this world, you encounter altar spaces reserved for contemplation and offerings. These spaces are surrounded by video channels depicting diverse scenes.

Drawing inspiration from the concept of 'hospicing modernity', WOMBTOMBS serves as a meditation on the inevitable decay of our contemporary society and the role of the ritual in navigating this transition

In one, a cyborg meticulously examines a cocoon within a setting hinting at a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world. Another channel portrays cyborgs in repose, seemingly suspended within a liminal realm. A fourth reveals the creation process of swaddled objects, likely intended as offerings within the exhibition. Lastly, snippets of text messages, laden with contemporary memes and emojis, offering enigmatic glimpses into another layer of the narrative. Each channel contributes to a multifaceted exploration of themes woven throughout the exhibition.

The impression of ‘hospicing modernity’ permeates the exhibition. Boogaerdt/VanderSchoot translate this concept into a tangible experience through their use of symbolic, ritualistic elements, polyphonic soundscapes, and installations that could be experienced independently or among others.

Central to WOMBTOMBS are the mourning rituals led by Guardia Ferragutti. Drawing on ancient technologies and contemporary practices, these hybrid rituals offer participants a chance to engage actively with the exhibition. During Sunday ceremonies, visitors are invited to come together in communal mourning rituals, guided by Ferragutti’s meditative presence.

The hybrid nature of these rituals blurs the boundaries between past and present; material and abstract. Participants are encouraged to call upon memories, ancestors, or entities from across different planes of existence to come to their aid, bridging the gap between the tangible and the intangible. Swaddled objects created during these ceremonies with the intent of ‘letting go’ of pain or grief are later positioned in either one of two offering spaces within the labyrinth and become integral parts of the exhibition space, blurring the lines between participant and artwork.

WOMBTOMBS isn’t a typical exhibition. The suspended cocoons serve as more than just art installations; they’re cocoons of introspection, urging you to grapple with the fragility of life and the passage of time. Meanwhile, the undulating hills and flowing digital rivers paint a vivid tableau of life’s cyclical nature—birth, growth, decay, and rebirth. But what truly sets WOMBTOMBS apart is its interactive aspect. Here, you’re not merely an observer; you’re an active participant, shaping the exhibition’s narrative and infusing it with your own personal significance.

WOMBTOMBS transcends traditional notions of art and ritual, offering a space for contemplation and collective mourning in the face of societal decay. By blending ancient practices with contemporary art, Boogaerdt/VanderSchoot and Guardia Ferragutti create an experience that encourages viewers to engage with themes of mortality, environmental degradation, and social collapse. As the exhibition draws to a close on June 9th, I encourage readers to engage with this experience before it’s too late. Join in the organic and technological cracks of our disintegrating world and navigate the journey from life to dust, or liquid.

WOMBTOMBS runs until the 16th of June, 2024, at MU Hybrid Art House in Eindhoven

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