CCA  Center for Contemporary Art and Ecology 

27 May – 20 August 2023

Oscar Santillán


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RADIUS is delighted to present A HEAVY HALO, a solo exhibition by Oscar Santillán. Under the umbrella of studio ANTIMUNDO, which encompasses both his artistic practice and the more-than-human network he collaborates with, Oscar Santillán investigates and reconsiders material, linguistic and technological entities and relationships in the formation of worldviews. Involving Artificial Intelligence, Andean knowledges, cybernetics, and science fiction, Santillán inscribes a plurality of philosophical and material lores onto a political ecology of agencies. With an ever-enquiring transhistorical and transdisciplinary practice, Santillán’s work is a generative means to expand our awareness of the diverse entanglements between natures and cultures, across times, bodies, and technologies. Presenting both existing and new work, the exhibition A HEAVY HALO is conceived as an exploration into the material and epistemic interfaces between world registers.

The Andean Information Age (detail), 2021

Contemporary anthropology has been experiencing a so-called “ontological turn”, which advocates for simultaneous and entangled realities and ways of being instead of interpretations of a singular natural world. Faced with the progressive encroachment of multiple ecological crises, esteemed authors such as Marilyn Starthern, Bruno Latour, Philippe Descola, Eduardo Vieiros de Castro, Marisol de la Cadena and Tim Ingold have been emphasising the necessity to embrace ontologies, knowledges, and practices of different Indigenous peoples around the planet. The European enlightened modern worldview has turned out to be incapable to cope with the critical state of the Earth, precisely because its intellectual foundation is based on a subordinate relationship with it. After the European scientific revolution during the 16th and 17th centuries, the idea of a single view of nature that had to be demystified and ‘managed’ was at the core of natural sciences. This singular view of nature assumed a monolithic nature and cosmos that are the result of a series of biological, physical, and chemical mechanisms that can be revealed through rational methods. Argued as a revelation for the progress of mankind, the removal of the human vis-à-vis other species and the physical environment, as well as its repositioning as external observer and master of the world, generated the separation between nature and culture.

Antibeing 0A (2021)

The philosophical and material fracture between nature and culture in Europe, and its forced establishment to other territories via colonialism, established what sociologist John Law has called “the one-world world”: a world that has granted itself the right to assimilate all other worlds, and by presenting itself as exclusive, cancels possibilities for what lies beyond its limits. Against the one-world world, the embracement of a pluriverse becomes an urgency. It is in the definition of pluriverse given by Marisol de la Cadena where we can start to comprehend Oscar Santillán’s artistic practice: a composite of heterogeneous worldings coming together as a political ecology of practices, negotiating their difficult being together in heterogeneity.

The one-world world conceives technological development as a universal means for progress. Philosopher Yuk Hui argues that the Earth and the cosmos have been turned into an enormous technological system, which he regards as the culmination of the schism between nature and culture brought by modernity. However, technology is not universal, as it is both enabled and constrained by particular cosmologies. As a result, “there is no single technology, but rather multiple cosmotechnics”, that is, the conception of the cosmos and morality through technology. In vein with Hui’s thinking, Oscar Santillán reminds us that in order to reconsider our cosmological narrations of the Earth we ought to pay attention to the technologies that enable them.

Antimundo 00S (2023)

Oscar Santillán’s practice of studio Antimundo consists of an intricate reorientation of the languages of ecology towards notions of reciprocity and relationally between human and other-than-human beings. With an acute interest in the histories and developments of both ancient and contemporary technologies, Santillán’s work is a fascinating approach to the the affective capacity of art to grasp and practice worlding. In order to identify and generate realities that do not fit in the one-world world, Santillán resorts to tools and imaginaries beyond the Western paradigm. As he describes it, studio Antimundo is attentive to what grows on the periphery of our normative realities and futures.

The exhibition A HEAVY HALO extends several points of enquiry to think about the ways we entangle the artificial and the organic in light of urgent ecological changes for  sustainable interspecies futures. Shunning the Eurocentric and the dichotomous, A HEAVY HALO is an insightful exploration of the margins of knowledge production and meaning-making that characterise Santillán’s practice. 

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  1. John Law and Marianne Lien, “Denaturalizing Nature”, in: A World of Many Worlds, ed. Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser, Duke University Press, 2018, p. 51. 
  2. John Law, “What’s Wrong with a One-World World?”, in: Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory 16, no. 1 (2015), pp. 126-139. 
  3. Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser (eds.), A World of Many Worlds, Duke University Press, 2018. 
  4. Yuk Hui, Cosmotechnics and Cosmopolitics, e-flux journal 86. 2017.  

Curated by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk, assisted by Sergi Pera Rusca.

A HEAVY HALO is made possible with additional support from the Mondriaan Fund and Copperfield Gallery.