Using vivid animation, Marina Zurkow creates a colorful cast of characters who inhabit a drowned world. In the carnivalesque Slurb ( a word that collapses “slum” and “suburb”) Zurkow designs a haunting ode to the rise of slime, a watery future in which jellyfish have dominion. Conflating time, this work refers not only to a future apocalypse but to the present world where extreme weather events occur regularly, ocean temperatures are rising, and the seas are increasingly acidic and hostile to most sea life. Few but the indomitable jellyfish are currently flourishing. And as New Orleans reminds us, the deluge is already upon us.
Wednesday, May 12th, 7-9pm, “Apocalypse Now”
Reception and Panel with Marina Zurkow, Juli Berwald, Ph.D. Science Writer, Peter Hall, Dept. of Art, UT, Andrea Mellard, Austin Museum of Art, Bogdan Perzynski, Dept. of Art, UT, Erica Shamaly, The Austin School of Film, Todd Simmons, Austin Museum of Digital Art, Kate Watson, Austin Video Bee and Christi Zangrilli, Environmental Designer.
Slurb, 2009, single channel video, duration: 17’42” loop, color, animation and stereo sound. Music by Lem Jay Ignacio with additional animation by Jen Kelly. Marina Zurkow is represented by the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.
To create the piece, Zurkow used live video clips drawn from a range of sources: Tourist and documentary footage of people practicing traditional aquaculture on now-polluted waterways in Myanmar and Cambodia; YouTube preacher competitions in the US; and people found in online stock footage archives under the keyword “sad”.
In this colorful, lush, and poignant video, Zurkow asks us to contemplate a future world that is in many ways already here.
There is a history of satirical illustration, epitomized by J.J.Grandville in the 19th century, in which animal-headed humans are deployed in the telling of troubling social narratives. Slurb is that kind of cartoon. Facts of the ocean’s radical changes in acidity and oxygen levels form the backbone of the animation; overfishing, dumping, and climate change’s heating of ocean currents have already triggered a reversion toward a primordial sea in parts of the ocean larger than the state of Texas. Slurb’s surface is inspired by fictions, like J.G. Ballard’s prescient 1962 novel Drowned World, in which inhabitants of a flooded world feel the tug of the sun, and dream of a return to their amniotic past.