Barfly / Drinks for Insects

Performative installation with consumable plant distillatesodoeurs (plant distillates, glass vials, plants, vintage wooden bar, insects), collaboration with Dr. Susanne Schmitt, photography by Lene Harbo Pedersen and Beate Kellmann

Barfly is a performative installation based around, a mobile bar stocked with drinks for a non-human and human crowd that were distilled from local flora. Each drink tells a story of the relations and interdependencies of plants, insects, and humans: attraction, companionship;y but also scarcity and rivalry.

Based on an extensive research,h the consumable and ephemeral drinks are created to attract and confuse insects and humans alike as their fragrance molecules travel through the air. Air , as an element of swirling relationships, not only carries air plankton - tiny insects that are exposed to the winds at a height of several kilometers (Raffles 2010: 5 ff.) - but also pesticides, neonicotinoids, and other toxic substances that have so suspiciously thinned out the happy hour rush. As Steven Connor, air theorist, so aptly writes: “The thin air has become unignorably thick, for us, because it is thick with us” (Connor 2010: 10). Air is the element of flying insects, but also the substrate on which toxins migrate. These chemicals have caused an invisible but dramatic crisis; an unprecedented number of insect deaths, killing up to 75% of known species.

An inter-species open bar, stocked with distilled plants and flowers in place of liquor, presents an experimental setup to test the capacity of the brews to attract and confuse insects and humans alike.
Barfly plays with the dissociative mood of a homely place riddled with uncanny absences and shifted perspectives. In the setting of the bar, bouquets and stories mix and create a potentially unsetteling experience. It is a memento mori for Central European insects; a place of invitation and a micro-stage of the sixth great extinction of species in the history of the earth.
The performative installation comes out of a supposition that theWill the sociability of a more-than-human bar soon will increasingly seem like an echo of a bygone golden era in inter-species relations?.

Barfly was shown at (ou)vert curated by Jens Hauser and Ida Bencke, 12th Conference of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, Copenhagen University, SMK National Gallery Statens Museum for Kunst & Harbo Bar, Copenhagen (June 2018) and {un}[split]festival curated by Jens Hauser and Dietmar Lupfer, Muffathalle, Munich (August 2018)

Realized with friendly support by the Erwin und Gisela von Steiner-Stiftung and the city of Munich.

Connor, Steven. The Matter of Air: Science and Art of the Ethereal. London: Reaction Books. Kindle version, 2010
Raffles, Hugh. Insectopedia. New York: Random House, 2010