On Acausal Connecting Principles

27th September — 16th December 2018
In collaboration with AIR Antwerpen

Following the joint invitation of M HKA and AIR Antwerpen, Heterotropics will operate outside of its Amsterdam base for the first time. Between September and December 2018 we will be residents at M HKA with a durational exhibition and performance program unfolding on the 6th floor of the museum. The project forms a part of the LODGERS program.

Heterotropics#4: On Acausal Connecting Principles pushes forth Heterotropics’ research on the entanglement of fiction, language, space and history using the phenomenon of “acausal connectivity” to address the interplay of psychic and physical states as well as the embeddedness of meaning and matter. Studied by pioneering psychoanalyst C.G. Jung under the term of “synchronicity,” acausal connectivity refers to the remarkable concurrence of events without any apparent causal connection that we commonly refer to as coincidences. While examining the case of such meaningful coincidences, Jung defined synchronicity as that which “cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of a falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity.” (Jung, 1969) In this perspective, time is not understood as a linear succession but as a field centred on a specific moment binding an ensemble of events, both psychic and physical.

On Acausal Connecting Principles performs the Jungian concept of synchronicity as a curatorial and research methodology. As a 3 month durational program, the project presents a chamber of synchronicities, materializing five accumulative and interspersed acts acausally connected through the 1883 colossal Krakatoa volcanic eruption in Indonesia — the Dutch East Indies at the time. One of the most devastating events in recorded history, the eruption occurred while the Dutch East Indies were promoted as a tamed tropical paradise in the Amsterdam International Colonial and Export Exhibition (“Internationale Koloniale en Uitvoerhandel Tentoonstelling”). Whereas both events have found their way into history books, their “falling together in time” has never been examined.

Considered by some researchers as the prologue to the demise of the Dutch Colonial Empire, the eruption caused the sinking of an archipelago, killing thousands of people. Its sound was so powerful that it travelled around the globe four times, while its dust altered the world’s climate, producing red skies over Northern Europe for several years. At the very moment, however, the Amsterdam fair was celebrating the stability and exotic charm of the empire through model Indonesian villages inhabited by real people. Like all types of colonial and ethnographic exhibitions, the Amsterdam fair created a spectacle of voyeuristic domination where beings and objects are treated as synecdochic elements in an imagined representation, as broken symbols and symptoms of a disease spreading called imperialism. What is their coincidence revealing? What psychic substrata connect the unconscious logic of the volcano to the taxonomy of colonial reason?

From this generative synchronicity a cascade of coincidences brings together the various acts composing Heterotropics#4. The acts are connected to one another through acausal lines of flight, linking distant and apparently unrelated matters, traveling and unravelling from the belly of the Earth to the depths of the cosmos. These apparitions do not aim to render any representation, but rather to move away from it, protesting against the conventions of the human gaze and historical narratives, operating through non-specificity, magmatic flows, eruptions, and entropy. Over the course of three months, the project stages a field of entanglements across time, space, and matter, bringing together the work of artists and researchers who in their different practices investigate divergent formulations of knowledge, elucidating the mystified objectivity of the “real”, shifting scales of visibility, blowing voices across time.

Interventions and performances by Sara Giannini, Adam Bobbette, Mehraneh Atashi, Milena Bonilla & Luisa Ungar and Ivan Cheng will consecutively inhabit the space leaving different traces behind towards a final accumulation. From text-based displays to immersive installations, via bodily (dis)appearances, their work seeks to complicate the distinction between psychic and physical realms, divination and science, outer-space and inner-space, visibility and invisibility, distance and proximity, absence and presence. Destabilising the colonial-scented canon of exhibition-making, Heterotropics#4 aims to weave a junction for events and non-events beyond chronology and belonging, challenging anthropocentric narratives and subliminal systems of belief.


Every act will outlive its announced timespan with different traces that will accumulate and be left on display until the end of the project.
Updates and more details of this schedule will follow.

Act I  – Take Away Diary (Something More Than Mere Chance)
27th September
Sara Giannini
* Realized in collaboration with designer Raoul Audouin

Opening of the project with an installation of the past-present-future coincidences underpinning it.

Act II – Let’s Frequency
3rd – 5th October
Adam Bobbette
* Delivered and performed by Ivan Cheng
** October 3 and 5 – ongoing
** October 4 at 9.30pm

A volcano scientist is a radio engineer. An earthquake is a heartbeat. You need to know how to synch your signals because it’s all a matter of frequencies. A shaman who makes shoes and used to be a spy in Sumatra works in the market during the day but gives love advice in the evening to young and old men. This is about him, Santoso, but others, too.

Act II – Entropy Pump
18th – 27th October
Mehraneh Atashi
* Performance in collaboration with Geo Wyeth on October 25

The heart of this work is an electrical system that translates latent energy from detritus into light and sound effects. The installation is itself a circuit – a feedback-loop of organic and inorganic matter that transforms raw information into measurable data. In excess of materials and transmissions, the work resembles a haunted cosmic landscape, one bursting with transmutation of life forces.

Act IV – All Signal, No Message
28th October – 24th November
Milena Bonilla and Luisa Ungar

Working towards the setting up of a research space, the artist duo takes as a departing point the synchronicity between the Krakatoa explosion and the Amsterdam Colonial Exhibition, as well as the global effect that the eruption had at the time environmentally but also in terms of information spreading. They will approach volcanic life as a kind of dormant interactivity between life forms inside a volatile structure. In that sense the history of the volcano gets connected to the external world manifesting aspects of itself that embrace pure potentiality as a tool for crafting actions and interventions in the exhibition space.

Act V  – Intermezzo’s
1st – 8th December
Ivan Cheng

Whether instrumental, comic, dramatic, or character based, an intermezzo is understood to function between acts. When it is named as an act in itself, what can be thrown into relief? Like a spy, Ivan Cheng works from the position of “between,” using observation as a means of operating throughout the duration of Heterotropics#4. Intermezzo’s proposes a possessive on the singular noun, and re-interprets the gleaned knowledge, reporting after a duration of “passing-as.”

Post Finale Accumulation
8th – 16th December

The post finale accumulation accommodates the traces left behind by the various acts, reflecting a certain depression, and opening to new beginnings and life-forms.


Credits & Thanks