And nowhere a shadow

Cohen van Balen's wild, wolf-oriented installation for the Lisbon Architecture Triennale highlights conservation as entertainment.

In a new installation, And Nowhere A Shadow, London-based studio Cohen Van Balen has created a wild environment which wolves enter at night to scratch their bodies on steel branches.

The installation forms part of Future Perfect which is part of the Close, Closer series of contemporary art programmes/exhibitions at this year’s Lisbon Architecture Triennale. The project organisers recruited a team of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors to create a fictional future city that included its look, surrounding landscapes and the activities that occur within it.

The movement of the wolves generates electricity while the lit-up metal branches massage the wolves and encourage them to eat genetically-modified blueberries containing rabies vaccine that keep them healthy.

The whole process is filmed via infrared surveillance cameras and broadcast on a live-stream over the Internet, turning conservation into performance.

“We wondered whether conservation was in fact a form of entertainment, since its motives are still largely anthropocentric. Therefore, maybe a form of performance could become a viable survival strategy for endangered animals,” Cohen said.

Cohen Van Balen is a partnership between designers Tuur Van Balen and Revital Cohen, whose work often focuses on the intersection of conservation, biology, and technology. 

Watch the Talk with Revital Cohen