In a dark, two-story loft near the Williamsburg waterfront, glass baubles display videos of people dressed in strange uniforms spelling out cryptic phrases with their bodies, colorful and animated infographics on endangered pollinator species, and three people roleplaying as a bat, a butterfly, and a bee, respectively, in incredibly detailed costumes.
This isn’t a science nerd’s fantasy; they're all pieces of Swiss-born, New York-based artist Katja Loher's elaborate exhibition Interplanetary Orchestrations. Done in collaboration with Emerging Collective, an NGO that supports artists working with activist issues, the show reflects on issues the natural world faces today, including the looming threat of endangered pollinator species and what the future might look like given our current environmental situation.
Conducted as a one-time opening of Katja’s own studio doors to the public eye, diverse segments of her practice are united together under one roof, but the strong artistic voice and cohesion that the video artist possesses causes the works to feel in total synchrony with one another.
Among the first things to notice in the space are Katja’s initimidating Videoplanets. Hung from the loft’s ceiling, these are enormous circular objects akin to celestial bodies, upon which are projected videos of colorful performances. Scattered nearby are Katja’s Videoportals, which behave somewhat like satellite moons to her Videoplanets. Just like the large planets, these objects display videos of performances conducted by Katja, often with performers dressed as endangered pollinating species, behind spherical glass. The performers join together to spell out poetic meditations on nature: “Where does the rainbow end? Is the rose naked or is it wearing a purple dress? Can the moonlight stop the blue ice streams?”
Some of the same performers from Katja’s Videoplanets and Videoportals made an appearance throughout the night. Acting like living, zoomorphic sculptures, the three performers became and embodied life-sized butterflies, bees, and bats, scuttling around the space with little regard to human conventions or etiquette. The bee repeatedly rubbed its abdomen on surrounding visitors, the bat found ledges in the space and remained contently perched upon them, and the bee flapped its wings curiously while looking at the info-graphic piece about itself.
If you missed the one-night-only showing of Interplanetary Orchestrations, you can view most of the pieces on display on Katja Loher’s website. You won’t get the experience of a rump-shaking bee, though.