i n   s a r c o p h a g o   v i v u m   a e r i 

M M X X I I I 

in sarcophago vivum aeri (MMXXIII ver.), installation view at Ugly Duck, London, UK, 2023
part of the body of work -321 °F | in sarcophago vivum aeri 
February 2023
Photos by the Artist, Iris Xu, Yuchen Chen, and Gabriel Chen

L180*W60*H50 CM
Microcrystalline wax, glass wax, 390-litre reverse osmosis filtrated dyed black and copper coloured water 
In its iteration in MMXXI, seawater was transported from 133° 79.515 N  012° 90.797 E, an undisclosed, 'nonexistent' location at sea, to London and poured in the sculptural structure. The transportation of water was initially delayed by the global pandemic and trade policy changes in export from the EU.

The sculpture 𝒊𝒏 𝒔𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒐𝒑𝒉𝒂𝒈𝒐 𝒗𝒊𝒗𝒖𝒎 𝒂𝒆𝒓𝒊 evolves from the transformation of the material cycle of water and wax, its instrumentation and ‘weaponisation’. Developed from the artist’s ongoing research on cryopreservation, freezing as an archival and empirical method, transnational logistics, the Essex refrigerator lorry incident and private cryonics organisations, the work expands to the Sisyphean cycle of labour, transportation, violence, mobility and displacement on a larger socio-cultural scale. The work and the ongoing research project it is part of inquire into how certain standalone cases of humanitarian crises relate to and amplify our collective understanding of the cryopolitical (related to thermo-politics) in which temperature experiences and effects are interwoven with human rights violations, legal issues and colonial legacies. As in particular scenarios, cold is instrumentalised to control and persecute individuals and targeted communities.
Composed of the crystallised remains of ceromancy and mirroring inland territorial waters, the piece becomes the nexus of interwoven time and potential futures. (Ceromancy is a form of divination in which solidified wax forms are interpreted to predict the future in a material transformation echoing the motion in which bodies fall into water. The process was conducted in seawater transported from 133° 79.515 N  012° 90.797 E and poured within the sarcophagus.) 
Reflecting on the notion that the sea has been in some way a gigantic collective sarcophagus in light of recent cases of humanitarian crises at sea, the spiritual syntaxes of augury and obsequies embodied in the materiality of white translucent wax, and the process of transporting seawater — which parallels the movement and displacement of bodies carried across continents and waters— converge in the middle, as a tribute, a resting place beyond time, and the intensive signification of the aforementioned notion that has haunted the artist throughout all this time.

133° 79.515 N
012° 90.797 E

© Celeste Viv Ly | 2024. All Rights Reserved.