The Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst in Antwerp (M HKA) has invited the Uzbek-German artist Viktor Brim (b. 1987) for a solo exhibition as part of its In Situ programme. This programme is focused on exhibitions by early- and mid-career artists from around the world, with an emphasis on commissioning new artworks and experimental practices. The exhibition by Brim, titled Beyond the Depths, brings together the experimental project Dark Matter (2020) and a three-screen installation.

The video installation Dark Matter (2020) tells the story of the Mir diamond mine near the city of Mirny in Sakha, a republic in Russia's Far East region of Siberia. The artist utilizes a series of minimalist tableaux to take us on a journey through a landscape brimming with resources, starting from the 1950s Soviet discovery of diamonds in this region. On the backdrop of a dystopic landscape scarred by a large pit mine, industrial machinery is dimly visible at the 'blue hour' under an Arctic sky, tirelessly excavating the ground. As a reflection of the extractive economy that Antwerp is renowned for, the filmmaker aptly ties geopolitics into his film against the background of the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine.

The three-screen installation is a new project that is being featured for the first time at M HKA and represents a continuation of Brim's research into geology, time, economics and politics. Filmed imagery from Russia (Mirny and Murmansk) and Germany (Mansfeld and Rheinisches Braunkohlerevier) are deftly presented, taking the viewer from recent past towards a point in deep geological time where the natural metallurgic processes for rocks and slag are accelerated, imbuing both with an energy of their own. The installations at M HKA are presented within an innovative and ambitious architectural structure created by Brim, designed to evoke the industrial mineshafts where his cinematic narratives take place.

Through film and video, Brim explores sites of extraction, both past and present, intent on portraying the relationship between power and the exploitation of natural landscapes. The contrast between the two invites viewers of his works to ask themselves how human action impacts the environment, but also to ponder on geological time. The latter serves as the central point of Brim's creations, where he delves into the secret lives of minerals and matter over long lengths of time which are barely perceptible. Ranging on a timescale from the distant past to a future beyond the reach of our imagination, he draws our attention to the dichotomy inherent in the object itself, minerals being simultaneously 'precious' and seen as pollutants, exploited in the service of totalitarian ideologies yet possessing a life uniquely their own.

Brim has previously had his works featured at both group and solo exhibitions, most recently at the Werkleitz Festival and at the Max Ernst Museum Brühl. Beyond the Depths represents his first solo exhibition in a museum and his first major exhibition outside of Germany. The show is open until 5 May 2024. More information about Beyond the Depths can be found at the M HKA website and at the artist's own page.

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