Tania Candiani starts her research stay at CERN as part of the Guest Artists programme, aiming to interweave the narrative of quantum physics and ancestral Indigenous knowledge.
Mexican artist Tania Candiani works with various media and practices, engaging with association narratives by rearranging, remixing and playing with correspondences between technology, knowledge and thought. In 2020, Candiani received a Collide Award Honorary Mention and an invitation to participate in our Guest Artists programme – involving a short exploratory stay at the Laboratory to engage with CERN’s research and community. “After three years of speculation about the shapes, sounds, perceptions, universes and dimensions that I would find at CERN, I will be finally going on a short field visit for the first time,” said Candiani.
Candiani aims to start building a visual, audio and written archive that will be the basis of two projects, Quantum Fictions and Quantum Prelude. Both take as a starting point the idea of interweaving possible connections between the narrative of quantum physics and the thoughts and words of ancient Indigenous cosmovisions.
In an interview with Arts at CERN, Candiani described the ways in which these two ways of thinking overlap: “In search of answers to fundamental questions about the more-than-human history of the cosmos, particle physics has scrutinised the world at the quantum scale, altering what we know and revealing the extent of our unknowing. [...] At the same time, much Indigenous knowledge has had for hundreds of years an explanation of those fundamental questions, between the real and imaginary, the measurable and immeasurable, the visible and invisible, all simultaneously.”
Her interest in tracing associations and parallels between the two seeks to merge a Western aesthetic canon that privileges vision and metaphysical knowledge with Indigenous oral traditions in which knowledge and history are encoded in the body and ritual.
Tania Candiani, Quantum Fictions, 2020 (video still). Courtesy of the artist.
During her time at the Laboratory, the artist will explore and film several detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), including ALICE, CMS and ATLAS, as well as the tunnels of the High-Luminosity LHC project. She will access the archives of the Data Centre and explore discarded equipment and objects from old experiments.
A core element of the residencies is the opportunity to engage in conversations with physicists, engineers and other Laboratory staff working across CERN’s broad scientific programme, including in the fields of antimatter, quantum gravity and particle detectors. About these exchanges with the scientific community, Candiani expects “to experiment with paradigms and systems of translating from the dimension of the invisible or inaudible. The existence of an expressive matter has deeply symbolic meanings and depth – eloquent, emotional, charged particles. So, I will be looking to have conversations from the perceptual imaginary where we can wonder at the possibility of interpretation.”
Thanks to the support for Arts at CERN provided by the Didier and Martine Primat Foundation and its special fund Odonata, Candiani will produce an art commission following her research and experience at the Laboratory. This multi-year partnership and grant scheme between Arts at CERN and the Primat Foundation fosters creative interactions between the arts, sciences and nature and includes art commissions by Irish photographer Richard Mosse and German artist Mariele Neudecker.
Candiani’s sound piece Quantum Prelude – which is part of the art commission – proposes a connection between CERN’s LHC and the exhibition space at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City. The ‘sound choreography’ that the artist finds in the movement of subatomic particles could be visualised as a musical score that integrates the sound of acoustic instruments and voices. In collaboration with musician Rogelio Sosa and performers from Mexico City, this work will be exhibited at the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition at MUAC in 2023.
Article by Ana Prendes, Communications and Content Producer at Arts at CERN