Bipolaris

Essay film (development phase)

Updated 2 months ago

The film tells the story of a fungus called Claviceps Purpurea, also known as Bipolaris. This fungus lives on grain and has caused outbreaks of Ergotism in the past. This disease leads to cramps, hallucinations and madness in humans and animals, and in severe cases to death.

Using macro shots, the life cycle of the Claviceps is illustrated, interwoven with audio fragments of witnesses to the most recent outbreak of Ergotism, in the French village of Pont Saint-Esprit in 1951. Meanwhile, in a top floor apartment in a towerblock in an unknown city, an individual is silently constructing a 3D spatial model of a pollen of the fungus, which gradually takes on monstrous proportions, comes to life and eventually swallows the space and the character.

  • Medium/Duration

    Short film (appr. 30 min), colour, sound

  • Collaboration with

    Marc Thelosen, seriousFilm: producer
    Ingrid van Tol: script coach
    Peter Mann: cinematography
    Stephan Blumenschein: soundscape
    Erika Roux: Research, assistance and translation

  • Support

    Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst (AFK)

In terms of form and content, the film is an interweaving of two narrative perspectives, based on how our brain hemispheres experience the world; on the one hand, the perspective of the Tower, which symbolises the ‘knowing’ of science, that of modern Enlightenment thinking, and on the other hand the perspective of the Earth, in which life emerges, where knowledge is embodied and where fungi dominate. But it soon becomes clear that these two perspectives are not fixed themselves either, that they shift and intertwine. The film, like the fungal world, is a place of paradoxes: Fungi are microscopic but can become overwhelmingly large; they are soft, but can force their way through asphalt; they are eaten, but also invade other organisms. In this symbiotic world, the boundaries of identity and the power relations of possessing and being possessed are blurred.

Le Corbusier Cassina chair
Black Autumn Truffle

Technological progress alone is not going to save the world and I believe that art and science are a special pair in this respect; one that brings together knowledge and feeling, calculation and magic. We can learn how to fly and realise our ideas, but we also live in a body and stand with our feet in the mud; it is important to keep those two extremes in touch. This film is a plea for shifting the balance to the right hemisphere; for not recognising what you already know, for being surprised in a childlike way, for respecting the limits of human knowledge, for learning from other life forms. By placing the story in the kingdom of fungi, I deliberately cross the anthropocentric boundaries of place and time, of identity, and of truth and madness.

About & CV

Maaike Anne Stevens is a visual artist based in Amsterdam and London. She works with text, image, installation and film. Her work has been shown at exhibitions and screenings worldwide, including at the Jerwood Space London (UK), the Austrian Filmmuseum (Vienna), Visions du Réel, Nyon (CH), IFFR Rotterdam (NL), The Art Gallery of Alberta (CA), and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Santiago (CL). Her work is part of the Victoria & Albert Museum permanent collection. Maaike is a graduate of Central St.Martins College of Art and Design (BA Fine Arts, 2008) and Goldsmiths College (MFA Fine Arts, 2012).

2021

Scylos

Short film

Updated 2 months ago

At the edge of the Moroccan Sahara a man contemplates his nomadic past and the turn his life has taken, whilst scientists in a German lab analyse deep-sea mud cores to unravel the Earth’s history. Scylos is a short film made in collaboration with Peter Mann. It premiered at Visions du Réel, Nyon (CH) and IFFR Rotterdam in 2021.

This contemplative film is composed from sequences shot in a small desert village on the edge of the Sahara in southeastern Morocco and at the IODP Bremen Core Repository, where thousands of deep-sea mud cores from all over the world are stored, sampled and analysed by scientists, who try to explain cycles of extinction and bloom in the history of the planet.

Strange Body

Silver cast

Updated 2 months ago

Silver cast made out of a 3D scan of a cyst in my left breast. This is a work in progress.

2019

Objets

10-day research programme with Slow Research Lab

Updated 2 months ago

In January 2019 I participated in a 10-day research programme in Tiznit, Morocco, organised by Slow Research Lab. The programme was a collaboration between international artists and the local community. Tiznit is located on the Targua oasis, 90 kilometres south of Agadir. Today, much of the oasis is in a state of neglect. This programme was set up to create more awareness among the local population of the importance of the place and to give the oasis a new lease of life.

Stop 18

Drawing and text

Updated 2 months ago

Text written as part of a creative workshop with Perdu, Amsterdam about my time working as an image editor for a multimedia tour guide company. Image drawn with graphite and pencil.

2018

Bodies of Water

Trio exhibition at Exposed Arts Projects, London

Updated 2 months ago

Curator Sasha Burkhanova-Khabadze: ‘The thought experiment in the exhibition Bodies of Water is not only to undo the idea that bodies have to be human; rather, it is to help our imagination to grasp that the human is always inevitably more-than-human…The three art projects, coincided in the exhibition, enable alternative ways of thinking about the ‘waterly ethics’, mutual responsibility, and developed practices of care — specific to the human-water relationships, explored by each artist.’

Calymene Siveter (1996)

Temporary installation at Galería Tajamar, Santiago (CL)

Updated 3 months ago

This work is based on the trilobite Calymene Siveter, which was found in 1996 in Herefordshire (UK). Trilobites constitute a class of extinct arthropods most of which lived in the sea. The installation was specially designed for Galería Tajamar, in downtown Santiago (Chile). The gallery space is in an old kiosk, which stands in a square between 4 towerblocks. These towers, the plaza and the surrounding shops were built in the distinctive concrete modernist architecture of the ‘60. For the space, a 3D scan of the trilobite was blown up to life-size proportions.

In The Minds of Others (Anonymous)

Ongoing collaboration

Updated 2 months ago

In The Minds of Others (Anonymous) is an ongoing collaboration with Chilean artist Maite Zabala in which we meet each other for short working periods in different parts of the world. Past residencies and exhibitions have included: The Banff Centre (CA), The Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (CA), Arquetopia, Puebla (MX), and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago (CL).

2017

Displacement

Commissioned artwork, 26-32 Oxford Street, London (UK)

Updated 2 months ago

This public artwork is an integral part of the facade of a new construction project in the centre of London. An irregular pattern of lightboxes, made out of limestone, introduces a playful element in the classical, vertical order of the facade.

Esa Architects and Westminster City Council had expressed their wish for an artwork to be developed for the facade of 26-32 Oxford Street and for the art to be an integral part of the building fabric.

2016

Kif Kif

Sculptural installation in the desert near Tisserdmine (MA)

Updated 2 months ago

This work was developed during a work period in the desert village Tisserdmine, in the Tafilalet Region in Southeast Morocco. The sketches and sculptural forms arose from my experience in this environment, a landscape that hardly gives any sign of recognition to the human eye.

2015

Stills

10 grave stones from memory

Updated 3 months ago

10 ceramic tablets made during a residency at the Banff Centre, Canada. They were based on the shapes of grave stones I had seen in a Norwegian village.

2014

Almost Touching

Temporary installation at the Acme Project Space, London

Updated 2 months ago

Almost Touching is a sculptural installation made on location at the Acme Project Space in London. It was selected by students from the Royal College of Art MA Curating programme to be part of the duo show Delve, together with artist Sarah Duffy.

Sketch book: The Diagram

Black Sea

Short film

Updated 3 months ago

This film brings together 3 narrative spaces: The mining network below the city of Odessa, The anoxic water of the Black Sea, and the (virtual) space inside a spiral shell.

Erika

A series of work based on a poor image

Updated 2 months ago

On 12 December 1999 oil tanker Erika broke in two in a heavy storm off the coast of Brittany, and sank. One of the last images before she disappeared became the starting point for a series of material explorations.

2012

Saving Everything I

A collective reading of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Updated 2 months ago

200 days, 1065 readers, 912 eliminated phrases. One sentence remained.

Saving Everything II

Short film

Updated 2 months ago

This short film is the documentation of the systematic deconstruction of a 20-volume history encyclopaedia. The work shows various steps in the course of this process, while sounds in the background form a new story.

About my work

I work with text, image, installation and film. A new work often starts with something small (linguistic) that grabs my attention: a sentence from a book, an image from the internet, a medical term. These words and images become part of a schematic approach in which encounters are organised between conflicting elements. This may be in the form of clashing materials, contradicting concepts, or by going through a process that gradually starts to undermine its origins. Through this process I want to focus attention on how language, established patterns of behaviour and social choreographies obscure a chaotic world of emotions and feelings, which at the same time define much of our lives. I am interested in the space and freedom generated by these collisions, which arise when there is a certain repetition, or shift in scale, or when the intimate is brought into contact with the public. They constitute a search for an alternative to the rational, dualistic world of Enlightenment thinking that colours so much of our Western world.

If you would like to know more about one of my pieces, or about my work in general, please don’t hesitate and get in touch.