Joey Holder

Cryptid

25 November 2023 – 17 February 2024

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Two Queens is proud to announce our forthcoming exhibition by Joey Holder, ‘Cryptid’

A Cryptid is a creature which may or may not exist, unrecognised by mainstream science. Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience, which primarily looks at anecdotal stories, and other claims rejected by the scientific community. An astonishing 86% of all plants and animals on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be named and catalogued. With the majority of life in the sea unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored there are millions of ‘Cryptids’ out there –  this project is a speculation on these creatures alongside those that have been ‘captured’ and catalogued by mankind.

For her project at Two Queens Holder draws on the term to explore queer ecology and the limitations of Western scientific taxonomy. Turning her attention to the well known catch-all terms for microscopic marine creatures – viruses, bacteria, plants and embryos – this new installation centres on plankton, one of the most understudied and diverse groups of creatures on the planet. The organisms and viruses that make up the Plankton universe are vital for the Earth’s Ecosystem; they are the basis for the entire marine food web. Phytoplankton photosynthesis provides oxygen for an estimated 70% of the earth’s atmosphere. 

Centred around an immersive installation showing shifting, layered footage of plankton from laboratory cameras, imagined creatures from cryptozoology forums and conspiracy sites, and set to an electronic score by AJA, ‘Cryptid’ adopts a diagrammatic aesthetic, with Holder using the visual language of science, rhythmic data streams and electron microscope photography, informed by her collaboration with marine biologists. Using 3D modelling, AI generative images of deep sea creatures and mystical symbology she reveals the interdimensional zone these creatures occupy across popular culture, and their importance to all life on earth. 

Queer ecology seeks to challenge  a worldview based upon the dualistic notions such as natural and unnatural, alive or not alive, human or not human, stating instead that nature exists in a continuously changing state. The idea of the Natural arises from human perspectives on nature, not nature itself. This branch of ecology rejects ideas of human exceptionalism and anthropocentrism that position humans as unique and more important than their non-human counterparts, specifically challenging traditional ideas regarding which organisms, species, and individuals have value. For Holder this contrasts the prevailing, limited system of Western thought, that recognises some bodies and rejects others.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of talks and workshops, more details to be announced. This exhibition is made possible by public funding from The National Lottery through Arts Council England.