To Be We Need to Know the River is the first solo exhibition in the UK of Latvian artist Sabīne Šnē, who explores the intersections between culture and nature, informed by historical and current ideas. Her broad interdisciplinary practice combines video, 3D animation, sound, sculpture, and drawing.
Merging scientific facts, science fiction and 3D worldbuilding, To Be We Need to Know the River speculates different possibilities for re-worlding, centred around new symbiotic relationships between humans, non- humans, and nature. As the threat of climate change intensifies, it forces us to confront difficult questions about the future of our planet. What might Earth look like? Can it continue to support both human and non-human life? How will ecological, existential, legal, and political frameworks shape our world? And what can we learn from our non-human neighbours?
The exhibition unfolds in a series of vignettes that chronicle the passage of time. 445 Million Years Ago to Today in 12 prints interprets climate change throughout history, from the formation of continents and global coolings and warmings to the consequences of volcanic eruptions and changes in the ocean, which have always provided the basis for life on Earth through water pipelines. Accompanied by an AI-generated soundscape, the synchronised 3D animation works give centre stage to the non-human protagonists – blue mussels, lichens, dung beetles, and mycelium. Collapse, Shelter, and Ecotopia addresses the catastrophic damage of anthropocentric thinking and prototypes collaborative strategies for ecological survival while spotlighting different ways of existence adopted by non-humans, which benefit all living things in various ecosystems. Network of Mutuality speculates possible scenarios for the future where non- humans are recovering Earth from human impact. Hyphae and Algal Cells spotlight the microcosmic organisms that orchestrate planetary-scale processes, their shapes mimicking the parts of mycelium and lichens. Being Together / Camaraderie is an ode to the coexistence of many creatures.
*To Be We Need to Know the River takes its title from a poem by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Curator: Nastia Svarevska
Venue: Lot Projects, 2 Broadway Market, London, UK
Duration: 24.08.2023. – 29.08.2023. Private view on 23.08.2023.
Opening night performance: Bestiary (Noah Franklin, Jude Norton-Smith, Milda Valiulytė)
Workshops: Circle of Listening by Hayley Harrison and Attendant Writing by Fiona Glen
Publication: Beyond Human Horizons with contributions from Micol Curatolo, Martina Francone, Fiona Glen, Hayley Harrison, Chantelle Mitchell, Sabīne Šnē, and Jaxon Waterhouse
Audio and text descriptions of the works: Joe Rizzo Naudi. Drawing from conversations in front of the artworks with the artist and curator, descriptions translate the artwork into language, providing visitors with a parallel experience in a non-visual form
Graphic design: Lot Projects
Exhibition was supported by State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia and the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia to the United Kingdom
Photography: Chris Denoon