beyond the depths

2024, site-specific installation consisting of Dark Matter (4K video, 19’52”, 71’19“, color, sound), The Cavity on the Inside (4K video, 71’19“, color, sound), Right under the Surface (4K video, 71’19“, color, sound), trapezoidal sheet metal, LED worklight

Viktor Brim is an artist who portrays the relationship between power and the exploitation of the natural landscape. Working typically in film and video, his highly immersive installations of luminous imagery explore sites of extraction, both historical and contemporary.

Geological time is a central notion, with which Brim considers the lives of minerals and matter over imperceptibly long lengths of time, stretching from far back in the past, until their brutal encounter with humanity, and then extending more speculatively into the future. Stillness in his films simultaneously represents a wound and latent energy. Drawing our attention to the life of minerals – from the ‘precious’ to pollutant, and that are the lifeblood of modern societies and economies – his film works are also philosophical meditations at their core. Natural resources are viewed at once as being on the one hand exploited in the service of domineering ideologies, and on the other, living an extraordinary existence of the own.

Brim’s solo exhibition at M HKA titled Beyond the Depths brings together a recent and an experimental new project.

Central here is his video installation Dark Matter (2020), which takes us to the vast Mir diamond mine in the city of Mirny in Sakha (formerly Yakutia), a republic in Russia’s Far East region of Siberia. Through a series of minimal tableaus, we observe this resource-rich landscape that stretches back to the period of Joseph Stalin when diamond mining was a lifeblood of the Soviet Union. Filmed during the special light of the ‘blue hour’ in this Arctic region, industrial machinery can be seen from a distance in the dystopic landscape that winds down into a colossal void in the ground, demonstrating how human agency, in the cause of ideology, inscribes itself onto the landscape. Dark Matter reflects on an extractive economy that Antwerp is world-famous for, whilst making a contemporary connection to geopolitics with the unavoidable backdrop of Russia’s catastrophic war on Ukraine.

A new three-screen installation is a choreography of imagery from three projects that continue Brim’s investigation of geology, time, economics and politics. Using filmed imagery from Mirny, Murmansk (both Russian Federation), Mansfeld and Rheinisches Braunkohlerevier (both Germany) respectively, it takes us from recent human history towards a place in which the deep geological time of natural metallurgic processes for rocks and slag debris is accelerated to portray them as energised and in a state of flux.
The two installations that comprise this exhibition are also presented within an ambitious architectural structure designed by Brim, produced using trapezoidal metal sheet, typically used in industry, evocative of industrial mineshafts.

Nav Haq – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp

beyond the depths