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Archived exhibition

HeHe: When The Future Was About Fracking

Exhibition: 22 April – 18 May 2016

Preview & Curator's Talk by Rob La Frenais: Thursday 21 April, 5.30-7.30pm

Closing Event with artists Alec Finlay and HeHe: Wednesday 18 May, 5pm

Centrespace, Visual Research Centre

When the Future Was about Fracking is a sequel, specially designed for Scotland, of the Paris-based artist group HeHe's Fracking Futures, which first took place in north-west England, also a contested site for hydraulic fracking.

The Guardian wrote at the time: 'It is one of the biggest, most polarising issues there is, but artists who have created an indoor fracking installation insist they are not trying to sway opinion either way. "We want to create an emotionally engaging experience. People can then go away and come to their own conclusions," said Heiko Hansen, who with his partner, Helen Evans, has recreated the sounds, tremors and flames you would get from a fracking operation.'

This time, the group re-enact a doomed landscape after extensive fracking, with leaking hissing ghostly wellheads, in the swirling mist of a post-apocalyptic abandoned excavation site, in the middle of a city centre, in Centrespace within DJCAD's Visual Research Centre located on the lower levels of the DCA. HeHe's often mischievous yet accurate miniaturisations of potential and actual global disasters have intrigued audiences worldwide, and this is the first time their work will be seen in Scotland.

Installation views of When The Future Was About Fracking. Photographer: Ross Fraser McLean.

When the Future Was about Fracking is curated by Rob La Frenais in collaboration with Cooper Gallery DJCAD and is part of the Energy Ethics project, organised by Mette M. High of St Andrews University. This installation was originally commissioned by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) and Arts Catalyst. Funded by Creative Scotland and the British Academy.

Preview & Curator's Talk for When the Future Was About Fracking, Thursday 21 April 2016. Photographer: Ross Fraser McLean.

Documentation video of the Closing Event with Alec Finlay & HeHe. Filming & Editing by Rob Page.



The spectator is always central to HeHe’s work, which investigates several fields of experimentation: visual perception and chromatic games, as well as more extensive explorations of social and environmental phenomena. With a humorous flair for performance, HeHe seeks to materially express everyday concerns such as pollution and consumption. Their monumental project Nuage Vert, realised in 2008 in Helsinki, used a laser beam to draw an outline onto a cloud released by a power plant, the green cloud changes in size relative to the energy consumption of local residents. This installation won a Golden Nica in Hybrid art at Arts Electronica in 2008. More recent work, such as Undercurrent or Is there a Horizon in the Deepwater, rebuild industrial infrastructures in miniature as a rehearsal to environmental crisis.

HeHe are Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen, an artists’ duo based in Paris. Born in the suburbs of England and Germany, they grew up while electronic technologies slipped into daily life and shopping became leisure. Always in movement, they continually reinvent their practice, using new materials (often based on light, smoke, mechanics, electronics and sound) that come from science or technology and bring them into relation to everyday spaces.

Mette M. High

Dr Mette M. High is a social anthropologist at the University of St Andrews whose research has focused on natural resource economies in different parts of the world. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, she is currently carrying out a 3-year research project entitled “Fracking Dreams: Corporate morality and environmental politics in a new ‘energy economy’ in the United States”. In her teaching and publications, she encourages reflection on critical issues in contemporary life and invites us specifically to consider the ethics of energy production, distribution and consumption.

Rob La Frenais

Dr Rob La Frenais is an independent contemporary art curator, working internationally and creatively with artists entirely on original commissions. He believes in being directly engaged with the artist’s working process as far as possible, while actively widening the context within which the artist can work. He has worked closely with artists such as James Turrell, Isaac Julien, Mona Hatoum, Orlan, Aleksandra Mir, Ashok Sukumaran, and Tomas Saraceno as well as many other established and emerging artists, working for European Cities of Culture in Glasgow and Madrid, directing the Belluard-Bollwerk Festival in Switzerland and curating a major programme ‘The Incident’, featuring James Turrell and others, for the ICA in London in 1996.

For 17 years he was based at The Arts Catalyst, along with director Nicola Triscott he developed an ambitious artistic programme and built up an unparalleled creative team which has been responsible for some of the most innovative exhibitions and events, based on interactions between art and science, in the world. As well as producing site-based works, The Arts Catalyst collaborates with institutions such as the European Space Agency, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, Tate Britain and the Roundhouse and many other galleries and institutions.

He was also the first curator ever to experience zero gravity, with a group of artists, at Star City in Moscow in 1999 and went on, with the Arts Catalyst to enable around 50 artists (and scientists) to work in an environment previously only experienced by astronauts and space scientists.

He is a visiting fellow of Bournemouth University, visiting curator at the Maison Des Arts Georges Pompidou, Cajarc, France and visiting curator at FACT Liverpool.

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Opening times: Monday - Saturday, 12 - 4pm.

Centrespace in the Visual Research Centre, DJCAD and is located on the lower floors of Dundee Contemporary Arts, 152 Nethergate, Dundee.