Press Release - The Last Question
16/12/2022 - 04/02/2023
Zilberman | Berlin is pleased to invite you to the finissage of The Last Question on the 4th of February, 2023. After the performance there will be a conversation between the artist Pedro Gómez-Egaña and writer, critic and lecturer Jan Verwoert.
Thursday & Friday: 14–17 h
Every Saturday: 12–14 h, 15–18 h*
*on Saturday the 4th of February, the performance will take place from 16-17 h only. The conversation starts at 17h.
The Last Question is an exhibition centred on a single, ongoing performance inspired by Isaac Asimov’s eponymous science fiction story. The exhibition welcomes visitors to enter an intimate space for experiencing a live music performance on an instrument built by the artist. The installation and the performance borrow from the tradition of planetariums as sites for theatrical visualisations of phenomena that lie on the edge of comprehension. The performance also references historical practices that draw parallels between astronomy, magic and music such as can be found in the mathematician Johannes Kepler’s Harmonices Mundi (1619), or the Pythagorean Musica Universalis (6th Century BC). Pedro Gómez-Egaña will perform continuously during the exhibition’s opening hours*, following a score that interprets Asimov’s story.
Russian-American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s short story The Last Question (1956) explores the fate of humanity and the universe as determined by degrees of energy expenditure. The ambitious story weaves together philosophy, trans-humanism, simulation theory, and theology. “Can entropy, and specifically the depletion of sources of energy, ever be reversed?” is the fundamental question that drives the narrative. The answer emerges at the end of history, the moment when all the energy in the universe has been deployed, and when consciousness and technology have merged into one being. However, the answer is not given in language but through a mystical sense of storytelling that relies on sounds and gestures: a demonstration.
As an exhibition, The Last Question plays out an interpretation of what the narrative of the story proposes. In order to do this, it invokes ancient practices that suggest that cosmic movements are part of precise celestial musical harmonies – an intersection of mathematics, science and music.
Pedro Gómez-Egaña’s work is concerned with exploring ways in which technology shapes and informs culture, particularly our understanding of time. Whether by reproducing ancient machines, or exploring the experience of virtual realities, Gómez-Egaña follows an interest in how our relationship to tools and devices, and the cultures of time that emerge surrounding them, are a fundamental domain of analysis and exploration. This has included the reproduction of ancient machines (The Chariot of Greenwich, Bergen triennial 2009), investigating imperial dimensions of standardised time (The Common Ancestor, Zilberman 2018), the sexual undertones in the temporalities of digital culture (Pleasure, 2017), or looking at practices of scientific popularisation as an encounter between science and mysticism (Object to be Destroyed, New York’s Performa biennial 2013). Gómez-Egaña’s work also reflects a concern with economies of attention. He addresses this by producing purpose-built, often large-scale immersive spaces that seek to modulate audiences’ perception. The relation between site and viewer is central to his work, making storytelling a frequent strategy. He produces fictions, uses music, or appropriates literary texts, while also drawing from concrete historical characteristics of the place where a work is exhibited.
Pedro Gómez-Egaña (1976, Colombia) lives and works in Oslo, Norway. He studied music composition, performance and visual arts at Goldsmiths College as well as at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Bergen and completed his PhD in the Norwegian Research Fellowship Programme. Gómez-Egaña has developed a variety of research projects at different institutions and with partners such as the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Goldsmiths College London, Kunstnernes Hus-Oslo, The Laban Centre-London, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia. His work has recently been shown at the 16th Lyon biennale, 15th Istanbul Biennial, Contour Biennial, Performa13-New York, Kode museum in Bergen, Yarat Contemporary in Baku, Kochi-Muziris Biennial, Marrakech Biennial, Kunstnernes Hus-Oslo, Hordaland Kunstsenter- Bergen, Brussels Biennial, South Bank Centre-London, L’appartement 22-Rabat, Galeria Vermelho-Sao Paulo, Kunsthall Mulhouse-France, Colomboscope-Sri Lanka, amongst others.
- Pedro Gómez-Egaña