Semelparous (Vienna)

Joey Holder (1986 - )

archival pigment print


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  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    This post-edited photograph documents an installation centred around Joey Holder’s video work Semelparous (2020) as shown at Galerie Kandlhofer in Vienna. Representative of Holder’s research-led practice, Semelparous builds on her study of the European eel’s complex migration, reproduction, and biological makeup. The term 'semelparous’ characterises a species that undertakes a single reproductive episode before death – in the case of European eels, migrating more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to the bottom of the Sargasso Sea, to breed for a single time each Autumn. The species has been critically endangered since 2011 due to illegal trafficking to farms in Eastern Asia, as scientists remain unable to replicate its reproductive life in captivity.

    The display in Vienna included digital prints, a TV, a wooden ashtray, soil, and a wooden fireplace. The centre piece shows footage of young eels at a purpose-built farm in South Korea where they had been taken from the sea and grown in captivity for human consumption. The installation proposed a kind of domestic shrine to these ill-fated animals; trapped in giant vats, with the promise of death without reproduction.

  • About the artist
    Born in London, Joey Holder trained in Fine Art at Kingston University (BA, 2005) and Goldsmiths College (MA, 2010). Her work raises questions about our understanding of the world, the future of science, medicine, biology and human-machine interactions. Her first solo exhibition was at Project Space, The Woodmill, London (2011) and she has exhibited internationally since, with selected solo shows at: QUAD, Derby (2018); Bloc Projects, Sheffield (2018); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2017); Sonic Arts, Amsterdam (2016) and Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2016). Selected group shows are: Digital Dilemma – The Architecture of Trust, Bureau Europa, Maastricht (2019); Future Love, HeK, Basel (2018); and Materialising the Internet, MU, Eindhoven (2017). She lives and works in Nottingham.
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  • Details
    Semelparous (Vienna)
    Number 1 in an edition of 1, plus 1 artist's proof
    archival pigment print
    height: 80.0cm; width: 120.0 xm
    Purchased from Seventeen March 2021, through the Art XUK project 2020-21
    Seventeen Gallery; from whom purchased by UK Government Art Collection, 24 March 2021
    GAC number