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4 March 2023 – 4 June 2023

Kestner Gesellschaft
Hannover, Germany

Download the exhibition handout here.

Daniel Ayat
Nicolas Baird
Maya Bjornson
Dasychira (Adrian Martens)
Nadia Hannan
Juan Heilbron
Aimee Lin
Juan Luis Matos
Lee Pivnik

Hysteria, 2023, Installation view. Photos by Volker Crone

Hysteria is an original multichannel video installation by IQECO premiering at the Kestner Gesellschaft. In this installation, the institute uses image, movement, and sound to construct an ecofeminist retelling of the poorly understood “dancing plagues” that swept through Europe between the tenth and the seventeenth centuries. The afflicted dancers are subtly recast as pointedly subversive agents entangled in environmental contagion and contamination that drive these wild, manic uprisings.

Dancing plagues (also referred to as dancing mania, choreomania, and tarantism) were spontaneous social phenomena in which groups of people, at times in the thousands, danced erratically and without restraint. The mania affected people of all ages and genders, and they often danced until they collapsed from exhaustion or suffered injury and even death. Although the phenomenon is well documented and affected multitudes of people across several centuries, these choreomanic events are still poorly understood. Some current theories explicitly cite ecological factors as likely origins for these choreomanic events. In one suggestion, the fungal disease ergotism, once known as St. Anthony’s fire, might be responsible for provoking widespread psychosocial turmoil. Ergot fungus would spread to rye and other grains in the damp periods following floods and in unseasonably rainy years, and the fruiting bodies of these fungi can cause hallucinations and convulsions when ingested.

In their recent work, the IQECO navigates the idea of a vanishing “nature” through frameworks of queer futurity. The artists assume a position of critical optimism, in part as a coping mechanism for the pain of living in, engaging with, and loving a biodiverse world that is being undeniably annihilated. 

Curated by Alexander Wilmschen. Made possible with support from Light Work’s Urban Video Project (Syracuse, NY).