Suspended Animation

Headlong into digital space

Les Abattoirs brings together nine artists who use animation as their tool to defy our conceptions of reality. This exhibition shows works from Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Kate Cooper, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, Jon Rafman, Avery Singer and Agnieszka Polska - all of whom explore our information-loaded era and our place within it. The exhibition raises many questions such as the impact that all these virtual worlds have on our real physical experience

Over the last few years, the increase in computer-generated images has had a huge impact on our lives, and the way in which contemporary artists have brought them into digital animation and art reflects this change.

The exhibition shows a range of prominent artists whose work explores the new realities of our era of non-stop information and virtuality from a humanist perspective. How does the virtual world affect our real, physical experience? What consequences will the digitalisation of identity bring? Are these virtual beings even more real than us?

The exhibition offers answers to such questions through various works from international artists who have chosen these tricky issues as their subject. The first floor of Les Abattoirs will be transformed -becoming an immersive environment where our perception of this new virtual human condition is challenged.

The term "Suspended Animation" is used in science fiction and medicine to refer to the slowing down or stopping of life processes in order to conserve life, like pushing “pause”. Applied to computer generated animation, the notion rather refers to replacing the physical body with that of a virtual one. A huge part of our lives now takes place in front of a screen; a phenomenon which has lead the artists to rethink the body in relation to technology. Rather than mimicking the real, the works look at how reality can be shown in a digital world. Animation brings new ways of studying the relation between fiction and reality, what is real and what is simulated, human beings and their avatars. Throughout the exhibition, you will meet intriguing characters who reflect the mutations of this new technology-generated human, and be confronted with the idea of the virtual human marking the end of the real, or being reincarnated in a new form.

There have been several exhibitions which have delved into the impact of new technologies in recent years in Europe - CO-WORKERS, Network as Artist (2015-2016) at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the 9th Berlin Biennale, both mounted by the New York collective DIS, are just two examples.

Put together by Gianni Jetzer for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with Les Abattoirs, Musée– Frac Occitanie, Toulouse, Suspended Animation, looks at the subject from a humanist perspective.

Partner Museum: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington is dedicated to Modern and Contemporary art. With a collection of over 12,000 works from prominent artists from the 20th and 21st Century, the museum opened to the public in 1974.

The Suspended Animation exhibition is organised by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, in collaboration with Les Abattoirs - Frac Occitanie Toulouse.

Special thanks to Canadian Cultural Center in Paris and to Fluxus Art Projects