The Trials of Mosquitoes, Idle Institute, 2018
Acknowledging the contentious nature of travelling and making art in other countries as Western artists, the Idle Institute is particularly interested in the notion of owner(author)ship related to narratives and the post-colonial dangers of re-telling/translating a story. The Trials of Mosquitoes (2018), is a political fairy-tale addressing questions of otherness, the banality of evil, and western influence in China. This was made as part of the Red Mansion Art Prize residency, based in Fei Jia Cun — a small (now demolished) migrant village in the north-east corner of Beijing. This work is the first in an ongoing series of political fairytales, using the concept of a parasite to discuss diverse political and ideological intricacies. In The Trials of Mosquitoes, a disgruntled villager comments on the arrival of a fair Prince and Princess, who contrary to the villagers’ will, save the village from the annual Plague of mosquitoes. The parasite is approached both literally and metaphorically, identifying indigenous parasites characteristic to the sites in which the Idle Institute works, using it as a pretext for engaging with specific political problems faced by (often marginalised) communities. It is important that throughout these works, the shape and nature of the bug/parasite remains ambiguous.
The Idle Institute (est. 2017) is a storytelling lab: a collective of writers, filmmakers, sound-artists and engineers founded by Sonia Bernac and Eliot Allison. Combining theories of the public sphere with quantum physics, they investigate the potentialities of the story – seen as virtual matter and a precise political tool. This emerges from the presumption of an unstable narrative field, in which they examine unexpected couplings and clashes between narrative particles. The Idle Institute’s projects build from narrative experiments: poetic traps in urban space, phone pranks, impersonation games and sci-fi installations. Currently developing a theory of the narratology of the public sphere, their research explores narrative entanglement, machine(s) of writing and technologies of storytelling.