Réquiem for Harley Warren (Screams from Hell), 2015

Installation View: Rare Earth, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna 2015. Photo: Joe Clark | TBA21

A new chapter in Marguerite Humeau’s stated quest “to explore the means by which knowledge is generated in the absence of evidence,” this installation stages the voice of the earth itself, inspired by recordings of “screams” emanating from various fissures in the planet’s crust, including the so-called door to hell in Turkmenistan, that have been reported in heterodox documentaries and in science fiction. It comprises a choir of shrieking and bellowing sculptures— three vitrines and their vocal catalysts. Each combines raw minerals and high-tech elements. One instrument uses the magnetic properties of erbium (normally used in fiber optic cables) to amplify and transmit the stalagmite’s testimony; another employs a neodymium amplifier to capture the electromagnetic speech of minerals. A third captures the roar of flame. The result is an unsettling chorus from the beyond.
The work is also inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s The Statement of Randolph Carter (1920), in which Carter recounts the disappearance of his friend the occultist Harley Warren. Warren had come into the possession of a mysterious book written in an unknown language, apparently suggesting the existence of doors and stairways connecting the surface realm to the underworld. Warren locates such a crypt below a graveyard and follows the stairs into the infinite darkness, reporting back to Carter by telephone wire. After a period of silence, followed by frantic noises on the line, Carter tries to reach Warren, only to be told by a voice—from whom or what?—that Warren is dead. Does the earth speak? 
Réquiem for Harley Warren (“Screams from Hell”), 2015 has been commissioned by TBA21 for the exhibition Rare Earth at TBA21-Augarten.

Marguerite Humeau was born in 1986 in Paris and lives and works in London and Geneva. Humeau’s interests lie in the realms of synthetic biology, historiography, performative design, and sculpture. In a contemporary condition in which, in the artist’s view, the idea of reality has itself become obsolete, she creates artistic speculations using actual scientific research techniques. Humeau studied in the Design Interactions Programme of the Royal College of Art in London, graduating in 2011. 
She has presented her work at exhibitions such as The Things?—A Trip to Europa, curated by Alexandra Midal, Design Project Room, HEAD, Geneva; Talk to Me, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011); The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, curated by Mark Leckey for Hayward Touring (2013); Politique Fiction, Cité du Design, Saint-Étienne, France (2013); Extinction Marathon: Visions of the Future, Serpentine Galleries, London (2014); andHorizons at Import Projects, Berlin (2014). Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Interview with Marguerite Humeau on the occassion of the exhibition RARE EARTH at TBA21, Vienna 2015