Robertina Šebjanič engages in investigating living systems (bio art) and sound. Taking on the form of interactive installations on exhibition grounds, her research-based art projects primarily focus on cultural, political, and biological realities of both marine and freshwater ecosystems.
The exhibition Aquatic Twilight_Lygophilia presents a series of projects titled Lygophilia, which she started in 2017 to thematise two unusual creatures, the Mexican axolotl and the Slovenian proteus, and their love (Gr.: philéō) of darkness (Gr.: lúgē). What these fascinating water animal species inhabiting two different continents have in common is that not only they hide from the light, but they also serve as examples of parallel evolution and endemism. The only natural habitat of axolotl is the swampy parts of the lake complex surrounding Mexico City, whereas proteus can only be found in Europe in the underground caves of the Dinaric Karst. Accordingly, they have adapted to the specific conditions of their habitats, which have undergone drastic changes due to human interference through excessive hunting, the introduction of non-native species, and above all pollution in the last fifty years. As a result, axolotl and proteus are now on the list of endangered animal species and the survival of both predators, which once occupied the top of the food pyramid, is becoming increasingly questionable.
Axolotl and proteus are distinguished for their longevity and even more so for their extraordinary regenerative abilities and they maintain eternal youth even in adulthood. These characteristics have made them the protagonists of ancient myths, part of cultural heritage, the national symbols of Mexico and Slovenia, respectively, and they have also put them at the centre of high-tech scientific research, where it should be borne in mind that the majority of living axolotls are now bred in laboratories.
The Tobačna Gallery will put on display the spatial installation Neotenous dark dwellers_Lygophilia, the video essay Piscis ludicrous / Transfixed Gaze_Lygophilia, the sound composition Black Drops_Lygophilia, and the newly produced work Odorantur_Lygophilia, with which the artist takes the viewer into the Proteus’ environment by triggering various sensory perceptions. Life and evolution in the darkness raises the question as to how proteus can perceive space and how it orientates in it. As an animal species whose eyes have become degenerate for no use of sight, it heightened other senses, including smell. Water pollution therefore causes not only the accumulation of toxic substances in its body, but it also robs it from another way of perceiving the environment, hinders its communication with other species, and prevents it from detecting its prey.
Production: Museum and Galleries of LjubljanaCo-production: Zavod Projekt Atol (Uroš Veber)Exhibition curator: Alenka TrebušakArtist: Robertina ŠebjaničText: Alenka TrebušakDesign: Ajdin BašićRealisation of the exhibition: Technical Service MGMLThe exhibition was made possible by: City of Ljubljana, Department for CultureSpecial thanks: Tular Cave Laboratory, Zavod Sektor
Series of works Lygophilia:
Special thanks: Tular Cave Laboratory, BioTehna, Annick Bureaud, Uroš Veber, Arte+Ciencia (UNAM), Bunker, Sektor institute, Miha Godec, Roman B., Peter Kolobarić, Zavod Sektor, Ida Hiršenfelder, MG+MSUM, Ana Ćavić, Matija Drobne, Polona Torkar, Rok Kovač, Radio Cona, CIBAC-UAMX, María Antonia González Valerio, Roberto Rojas Madrid, Transitio_MX CENART
Odorantur _Lygophilia, installation
Artist, research, development: Robertina ŠebjaničTechnical support and development: ScenArt d.o.o.Development of the smell / odour: Marko ŽavbiProduction: Projekt Atol (Uroš Veber) and Museum and Galleries of LjubljanaYear of production: 2019Special thanks: Tular Cave Laboratory, BioTehnaProduction support: Ministry of Culture of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana
Neotenous dark dwellers _Lygophilia, installation
Artist: Robertina ŠebjaničAdvising: Annick BureaudProduction: Projekt Atol (Uroš Veber), Slovenia, 2018 & Arte+Ciencia (UNAM), Mexico 2017; Sektor Institute, Slovenia 2017/2018Special thanks: Aisen Caro Chacin, Miha Godec, Roman B., Peter Kolobarić, Rampa Lab, Osmo/za Consortium, Bunker team, Tular Cave LaboratoryProduction support: Ministry of Culture of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana
Dark Drops _Lygophilia, sound composition
Field recordings, editing: Robertina ŠebjaničProduction: Sektor InstituteYear of production: 2017Special thanks: Radio CONA
Piscis ludicrous / Transfixed gaze _Lygophilia, video essay
Camera, editing, sound: Robertina ŠebjaničAdvisor: Ida HiršenfelderText: Robertina Šebjanič and Ida HiršenfelderVoices: Polona Torkar, Matija DrobneSound editing: Rok KovačProofreading (English): Paul SteedProduction year: 2017Production: Projekt Atol, Ministry of culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Sektor Institute, Arte+Ciencia at UNAM (The National Autonomous University of Mexico)Advisers / Special thanks: MG+MSUM, Tzintia Mendoza, CIBAC-UAMX team: Dr. José Antonio Ocampo Cervantes & Arturo Vergara Iglesias & Alan Roy Jimenez Gutierrez & Angelina Saldaña CIBAC-UAMX dr. Jesús Chimal Monroy and Brianda Berenice Lopez Avina at Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas UNAM, Arte+Ciencia UNAM team: María Antonia González Valerio, Roberto Rojas Madrid, dr.Luis Zambrano (El Laboratorio de Restauración Ecológica UNAM), Alejandra Ramos (UNAM), Francisco Martinez Perez, Secretario Auxiliar de la Cantera Oriente (REPSA), Pedro Soler, Miha Colner, Sarah Hermanutz, Annick Bureaud, Ale de la Puente, Ida Hiršenfelder (MG+MSUM), Kristijan Tkalec (Rampa Lab), Gregor Aljančič (Tular Cave Laboratory), Transitio_MX festival at Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART), CIBAC-UAMX (Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas y Acuícolas de Cuemanco Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco)
Exhibition space is open according to exhibitions:
Monday, Saturday, Sunday: Closed
As lots of axolotls spend most of their lives as model organisms in scientific laboratories, the axolotls that were hatched at Sarah's aquarium are descendants from axolotls that had been lucky to leave the scientific laboratories. As they have been reproducing very successfully Sarah has now quite a few baby axolotls and she would be glad to give some of them for adoption.