'Otter in adoration of the Sun', Susan Kooi (2015)
'Otter in adoration of the Sun', Susan Kooi (2015)
Lutra Lutra Lutra, the Renaissance of the Italian Otter
Sunday November 8th 2015
5 November - 8 November, 2015
The Others Fair, Ex Carcere Le Nuove – Via Paolo Borsellino, 3 Torino – Italy
With contributions by: 
Susan Kooi
Curated by: 
Marloes de Vries
MAMA is proud to collaborate with Susan Kooi for The Others: staygold! Susan Kooi is a remarkable young Dutch artist, whose practice is as versatile as it is diverse. Her work transcends all disciplines and includes, sound, music, video, sculpture, fashion, and much more. She is half of the performance duo echo+seashell and also part of artist collective Samet Yilmaz (formerly known as kunstenaarsinitiatief Beyoncé). For The Others, Susan has developed Lutra Lutra Lutra, the Renaissance of the Italian Otter, a project in response to the environment of Turin.
Mesopithecus, Amphimachairodus, Cremohipparion, Eucyon monticinensis, Homo neanderthalensis, Dihoplus, Apodemus gudrunae, Lutra lutra lutra, Paraethomys meini, and many others were all once indigenous to the area where Turin now stands. Existence has blurred for these species; some are long extinct. Piedmont once used to be the bottom of the sea. These creatures have cast free the shackles of cold-bloodedness; furry ancestors crept out of their asylum among pebbles, cobbles, and boulders, without need for the concept of time, and then fell into the pit of extinction, remaining as skeletonized life, fossils, memory, and imagination.

Lutra lutra lutra, or the Italian otter, is only locally extinct, disappearing from Northern Italy in the 1970's and '80s. Now humans are making an effort to assist their de-extinction, come-back, or renaissance.

Humans and otters go way back. In ancient Egypt, the otter was ascribed to the goddess Wadjet, and many otter statues were made during the Ptolemaic era. With raised paws, the otter signifies its adoration of the sun God when he rises in the morning. In medieval zoology, an ichneumon (a mongoose or otter) was the enemy of the dragon. When it sees a dragon, the ichneumon covers itself with mud and closing its nostrils with its tail, it attacks and kills the dragon.

Nowadays considered a flagship species, the little carnivore's charm, appealing physique, and playful vivacity are a focus of Italy's developing nature tourism. The motivations behind the otter's renaissance lie in the aesthetic and emotional benefits that the return of wildlife in a densely populated and industrialized part of Italy has on humans.

In this installation, otter figurines act as a fertility symbol and represent this comeback. Accompanied by the scent of jasmine, reminiscent of otter spraint, the work ritualises the renaissance of the Italian otter: a dragon fighter too cute to be a fossil.

"In my work I am looking for the moments when physical objects start relating to the complex way of being human. I am interested in situations in which you can feel the size of the universe and time for an instant. Having a stone in your hand that was used by an early humanoid. Touching a piece of a meteorite that came from space and hit the earth. Or holding a fossilized ancient animal. My interest in certain subjects such as the concept of extinction or the status of stones are the start of the works. The medium that fits follows. In visual arts I can work the best with these themes, yet I am often on its borders, with applied arts or music. I work in various media: textile, plastics, installation, film, performance and text."