Deposit – Yann Mingard
How does our secular society manage its heritage and, with that, its future? By collecting and archiving data with near-religious zeal: human DNA in the form of slivers of umbilical cord, dental samples and sperm, DNA of animals already extinct in the wild, the seeds of all manner of (agricultural) plants. And, of course, vast quantities of digital data that we leave behind on the big data pathways of the Internet, credit card statements and official registers.
From 2009 to 2013, Swiss photographer Yann Mingard (*1973) documented this avid pursuit of collection and storage in images that raise many of the unasked but pressing questions of our time. Do propagation technologies transform the human prosthetic God into a veritable demiurge? What is the significance of a diversity of plant and animal species that exist only as rare individual specimens in laboratories, zoos and botanical seedbanks? Will the age-old fantasy of eternal life one day become a real biological and medical possibility? Yann Mingard pictures this dizzying array of issues in strikingly dark photographs in which medical instruments, data servers, human, animal and plant samples, the interiors and (very rarely) exteriors of laboratories and archives can often be discerned only on closer inspection. In the four chapters ”Plants”, ”Animals”, ”Humans” and ”Data”, Mingards photographs accentuate a dark side to the scientific progress by which humankind has continued to tame and harness the forces of nature and subjugate them to our own analyses and power structures. Deposit asks us to confront and ponder these realities.
The exhibition was curated by Thomas Seelig. A cooperation with the Museum Folkwang, Essen, FotoMuseum Antwerpen, and GwinZegal, Guingamp.
Main sponsor of the exhibition: Swiss Re. Further generous support from the Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung, the Migros-Kulturprozent and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.