Joey Holder

Joey Holder (b. 1986) lives and works in London and Nottingham. She holds an MFA from Goldsmiths.

Her artwork is fuelled by continued dialogue and collaborations with researchers & practitioners from varied fields. She creates fictional worlds & constructed environments that respond directly to contemporary, real world events. Each artwork is considered a ‘set’ with filmic, narrative, architectural, visuals & sound elements created uniquely for the conceptual underpinning of the project. She has worked with computational geneticists, marine biologists, behavioural psychologists & investigative journalists where the artwork has addressed themes including future farming, synthetic biology and deep sea ecosystems.

Joey Holder’s work raises philosophical questions of our universe and things yet unknown, regarding the future of science, medicine, biology and human-machine interactions. Working with scientific and technical experts she makes immersive, multimedia installations that explore the limits of the human and how we experience non-human, natural and technological forms. Mixing elements of biology, nanotechnology and natural history against computer programme interfaces, screensavers and measuring devices, she suggests the impermanence and interchangeability of these apparently contrasting and oppositional worlds: ‘everything is a mutant and a hybrid’. Connecting forms which have emerged through our human taste, culture and industrial processes she investigates complex systems that dissolve notions of the ‘natural’ and the ‘artificial’. GM products, virtual biology and aquatic creatures are incorporated into an extended web; challenging our perception of evolution, adaptation and change.

Holder has exhibited widely in the UK & internationally including the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Athens Biennale, Design Museum, Moscow Biennale, Transmediale & Venice Biennale. She is the Director of SPUR an online platform which supports digital practice and the Director of Chaos Magic, an arts project space in Nottingham.

 

Biography
Joey Holder CV

Seventeen Exhibitions
Abyssal Seeker
Memeplex 
Joy before the object

Selected Press
Flash Art
Art Review
Vice Interview
tzvetnik
Art Monthly: Profile, Joey Holder by Tim Dixon
Rhizome: Joey Holder by Jamie Sutcliffe
Flash Art review by Sonja Teszler
BOMB Magazine: Faith and Technology: Joey Holder Interviewed by Caroline Elbaor
Elephant: 5 Questions with Joey Holder
The Evening Standard: ‘Conspiracy Week at The Photographers’ Gallery: Pictures from a post-truth world’ by Ben Luke
frieze: ‘The Mutants We Will Become’, Chris Fite-Wassilak
The Guardian: ‘DIY call centres and puppet shows help Athens Biennale fight the power’ by David Batty
Art Monthly: ‘Art and the Chthulucene’ by Jamie Sutcliffe
Dazed: ‘Mutant Hybrids’
MUTE: ‘Mutatis Mutandis’ by Josephine Berry Slater

Artist Websites

www.joeyholder.com
www.dark-creatures.com
www.wefadetogrey.co.uk
www.queeringnature.com
www.sushishhihuiiishii.com
www.biostat.media
www.interiiiz.com
www.proteus.space

Abyssal Seeker (Demersal Zone), 2021
Installation view at 23rd Biennale of Sydney, Australia, 2022

Abyssal Seeker (Demersal Zone), 2021 (Detail)

Abyssal Seeker (Demersal Zone), 2021
Installation view at 23rd Biennale of Sydney, Australia, 2022

Semelparous, 2019
Pigment prints, single channel video, acrylic on board, living ivy, sound system

Semelparous is a site-specific installation in the Pool and Spa of the now-closed Springhealth Leisure Center. Through research of the European Eels complex migration, reproduction, and biological makeup, Holder examines the irreplicable forces of the natural world.’Semelparous’ characterises a species that undertakes a single reproductive episode before death. A unique and generative strategy in which the organism inputs all available resources into maximising reproduction at the expense of future life. Each autumn, European Eels leave their freshwater river homes and migrate more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, to the bottom of the Sargasso Sea, to breed for a single time. The eels’ reproductive life has eluded scientists and philosophers for centuries, as humans have never witnessed nor recorded their spawning rituals.Semelparous revolves around Holder’s newest video work, situated within a complex physical structure, the eel is depicted as a mythological symbol, biological specimen, and it’s most controversial role: food. Unable to replicate the species enigmatic reproductive life in captivity, young European Eels have been extracted and illegally trafficked to farms throughout various regions of Eastern Asia. These practices have severely impacted the populations, and as of 2011, the European Eel has remained critically endangered.Responding to the eels population crisis, spawning migration, and structural characteristics of the Springhealth pool, Semelparous is a monument to the European Eel. Sculptural elements are extended from the existing architecture as plants and organic materials spill out from the skylights overhead to the depths of the pool. Through its immersive nature and biological sources, Semelparous speculates on our inability to replicate the encoded phenomenon present within an organism’s biological makeup.

Curated by Julia Greenway

Semelparous, 2019
Pigment prints, single channel video, acrylic on board, living ivy, sound system

Semelparous, 2019
Pigment prints, single channel video, acrylic on board, living ivy, sound system
7 minutes 48 seconds

Joey Holder & OMSK Social Club, Memeplex™, 2021
Installation view of Memeplex, Seventeen, 2021-22

Abyssal Seeker [Dermersal Zone], 2021
2 channel HD video with sound, curved projection screen
7 minutes 41 seconds

Installation view at Seventeen, London

Abyssal Seeker [Dermersal Zone], 2021
2 channel HD video with sound, curved projection screen

Eunice Aphroditois, 2021
Pigment print on cotton paper mounted to aluminium 

Cyclostomata, 2021
Pigment print on cotton paper mounted to aluminium

Abyssal Seeker, Littoral Zone, 2021
Pigment prints on cotton paper mounted to aluminium, wallpaper

Installation view at Seventeen, London


Khthon, 2020
Wallpaper, UV prints on light box fabric, light boxes, glass, steel, silicone, cacti, earth, driftwood

Khthon’, one of several Greek words for earth, typically refers to that which is under the earth, rather than the living surface of the land. Images of reproduction and reproductive forces are present throughout the work. The wallpaper and light boxes are created using an algorithm designed to blend photographic images together, intertwining them and breeding infinite new versions. Computation strives for biological variety. The glass tanks contain silicone casts of insect genitalia, dramatically scaled up from scans taken by electron microscope. These objects express the myriad exquisite forms and mating practices found in the animal kingdom, which are often invisible to the naked eye. We may imagine what life is like on other planets, other worlds, yet what is present right under our noses is far more ‘alien’.

Khthon, 2020 (Detail)
Wallpaper, UV prints on light box fabric, light boxes, glass, steel, silicone, cacti, earth, driftwood
Khthon, 2020 (Detail)
Wallpaper, UV prints on light box fabric, light boxes, glass, steel, silicone, cacti, earth, driftwood
Khthon, 2020 (Detail)
Wallpaper, UV prints on light box fabric, light boxes, glass, steel, silicone, cacti, earth, driftwood

The Evolution of the Spermalege, 2014 – present
3D prints, skin-safe silicon, spray paint, baby oil, acrylic, wallpaper

Vice Interview

Semelparous, 2019
Digital wall print, unique single channel video (9 minutes 50 seconds), soil, sand, wooden fireplace


Semelparous, 2019
Digital wall print, unique single channel video (9 minutes 50 seconds), soil, sand, wooden fireplace

A species is considered ‘semelparous’ if it is characterised by a single reproductive episode before death. In truly semelparous species, death after reproduction is part of an overall strategy that includes putting all available resources into maximising reproduction, at the expense of future life. Each autumn, eels leave their European river homes to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to breed for a single time, then die. Tagging studies show that the fish swim more than 3,000 miles to the Sargasso Sea and the deepest part of all the oceans – the Mariana Trench. The centre piece for the installation shows footage of eels at a purpose built farm in South Korea. Here the young eels have been taken from the sea, and grown in captivity for human food. The installation is a kind of domestic shrine to these ill-fated animals; trapped in giant vats, with the promise of death without reproduction.

Joey Holder, Adcredo – The Deep Belief Network, 2018
Installation view at Quad, Derby

Using the device of a fictional data-analysis company called Adcredo, Holder explores the role that online networks can play in the construction of belief. Across a series of exhibitions at Bloc Projects, Sheffield, QUAD in Derby, Matt’s Gallery, London, and the 6th Athens Biennale, Holder expanded this fictional world to examine the rise of political ideologies and fantasies, and how they might affect our worldview. The work develops a series of avatars, CGI talking heads stand in for Kanye West, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Peter Thiel alongside otherworldly creatures drawn from the artist’s online research into conspiracy theory and synchromysticism. The work exists against a techno-socio-political backdrop of fake news, conspiracy theory, cyber-espionage and political populism.

The work is complemented online at Adcredo’s company website: deepbelief.network and the research platform for this project can be found at randomforest.site

Joey Holder, Adcredo – The Deep Belief Network, 2018
Installation view at Quad, Derby

Joey Holder, Ophiux, 2016
Installation view at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge

This installation imagines a future in which synthetic biology has been fully realized and applied to both advance human evolution and increase life expectancy, and where human biology has been computer programmed. Ophiux visualises how current digital developments are used to extract data from DNA. The exhibition proposes that in the future the human population, and millions of other organisms, will have been genetically sequenced in order to extract data, with the aim of furthering life. Holder’s work reflects on the reality of today’s healthcare, in which our bodies are increasingly mapped and digitised. While conceiving the work, Holder worked in close collaboration with scientists she met during a residency at Wysing Arts Centre in 2015 – Dr Marco Galardini, a Computational Biologist at the European Bioinformatics Institute at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Cambridge, and Dr Katrin Linse, Senior Biodiversity Biologist at the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge.

Joey Holder, Ophiux, 2016
Installation view at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge

Joey Holder, Adcredo – The Deep Belief Network, 2018
Installation view at Matts Gallery, London

Joey Holder and Viktor Timofeev, Lament of Ur, 2015
Installation view at Karst, Plymouth

Lament of Ur was an exhibition by Joey Holder and Viktor Timofeev inspired by themes of entrapment, conspiracy theories and speculation on post-human life. The exhibition includes video, an interactive computer game, fabricated and found sculptures, prints and mural paintings. Holder and Timofeev’s work weaves together, eschewing the standard “duo show” division into individual practices, in favour of a synergetic in-house collaboration that brings together both artists’ works without emphasising their individual authorship, allowing the works to be re-contextualised and “ebb and flow” into one another.

Proxyah, a computer game installed together with a sculptural controller, floor-print and zine-like instructional guide, deliberately obfuscates the premise of goal-oriented gameplay, a concept mirrored by Holder’s film, in which fictional and scientific lexicons are collaged together in order to speculate on the nature of language, levels of abstraction and a time without humans. The golden spot-light wall-prints surrounding a floor to ceiling JPEG of a Cuneiform tablet refer to the name of the exhibition itself; specifically to the popular theory of the Annunaki, the gold-mining alien race that enslaved the human race and is believed to have centred around the city of Ur of the Sumerian Civilisation. The exhibition softly suggesting the parallel between this speculative theory and our current technocratic state – and reflects on our collective innate tendency to be controlled, to invent new gods to replace old ones, and to march blindly towards inevitable oblivion.