Hank Yan Agassi
Hank Yan Agassi (date of birth and place are unknown to our perception and inconstant. Pronoun: it, its) works on Earth of our time occasionally as an artist, a subjection it romanticises as a concept when separated from the notion of Human. Its speculative or prophetic conceptual visual art practice consists of wooden-panels and site-specific wall paintings, as well as supporting sculptural objects and short stories. With its mutating physical appearance, Agassi's focus of work range from earthly materialities to future speculative or prophetic storytelling, with a perspective that perceives (non-)human existence in a (non-)territorial Postordial Soup** of planetary existence. It is the painter of the Oblivials*.
*Oblivial is a word I came up for the practice of Hank, compounding a word and a suffix: Oblivion means the state of being completely forgotten or being unaware. The suffix 'al' has a sense of action or process of something as part of a noun and meaning of pertaining to something as part of an adjective.
**as the antonym of Primordial Soup
The Red Letholith*
This project is about a fictional approach to a certain geological stone, the formation of which will take place after the sixth mass-extinction caused by humans. This rock has a taxonomic kinship to the stone of Adnet or namely Reichskanzlei-Marmor, which was used for the National Socialist architecture in Berlin, but with an essential difference. The usual sedimental matters such as (in-)organic calcium-carbonate depositions of these red-condensed limestones will be disturbed with a new component: The traces of humans.
*Letholith is a hybrid word Hank created for this project, compounding two greek words "Lethe" - which means "oblivion" or "forgetfulness" related to the word "truth", "aletheia" which also means "un-forgetfulness." Lethe was also the mythological goddess of oblivion, the daughter of Eris, with whom one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades is often associated. The newly deceased must drink the water from this river to be able to forget all of their past to be peaceful in the underworld of Hades - and "Lithos" - means "stone."
The textual and the pictorial narrative starts and continues from the oldest work to the recent one. But feel free to start and go on from which ever you want to.
The Red Letholith (Monolith no.:2), acrylic mural, 335 x 150 cm, 2022
The Red Letholith (Monolith no.:2), sort-story, acrylic on wall, 2022
The Red Letholith (Monolith no.:1), acrylic mural, 335 x 150 cm, 2021
The Red Letholith (Monolith no.:1), sort-story, acrylic on wall, 2021
The Red Letholith (Pigments), Medium-density Fibreboard, 45x35cm, 2020
Text on the Frame
"THE COLOR OF SAPIENS' HEMOGLOBIN, RESPIRATORY PIGMENT WAS THE BIND OF ITS IRON AND OXYGEN. THE BLUSH ON THIS CUBE OF LETHOLITH IS ALSO FROM THE WED BETWEEN THESE TWAIN. THE HEMATITE PAINTING THE PLANE."
The Red Letholith (The Last Chancellery), acrylic and oil paint on birchwood panel, 123x127cm, 2019
The Text on the Frame
ONCE ONE SAID, "GIVE ME A HALF TANKER OF IRON, AND I WILL GIVE YOU AN ICE AGE." THIS WAS AN OVERRATED SCIENTIFIC HOPE AGAINST THE DOOM OF HIS KIND. JOHN! ALL YOU HAVE GIVEN ME WAS A SHADE OF BLUSH TO THE LIMESTONES WHICH HAVE TRAPPED THIS LOW IDEA AND THE REST FROM THE TIME OF YOURS. EVEN A TINY PIECE OF THIS BLOODY MASS OF RUSTED ROCKS WARPS GREATLY MY GRASP OF THE FABRIC OF MULTI-DIMENSIONAL CONTINUUM. NOT COS ITS ENERGY IS HIGH, BUT SYMBOLICALLY IT IS TOO DENSE, GIVEN THAT THE UNITY OF ITS MULTIPLE BIOTIC-CONSCIOUSNESS IS INACCESSIBLY PETRIFIED. THO, I FELL FOR THIS STONE! SO MUCH THAT I WANT TO BUILD THE LAST IMPERIAL CHANCELLERY OF EARTH'S GREAT FILTER WITH IT.
The Red Letholith (HE0025), acrylic and oil paint on birchwood panel, 138x78cm, 2019
The Text on the Frame
I AM CURIOUS ABOUT SOCIO-BIOLOGICAL INTRA-ACTIONS, SINCE I HAVE ALREADY MASTERED THE NON-BIOLOGICAL. DAMN SAPIENNESS! I WISH MY REPRODUCTIVE PAIR HE0025 WERE HERE. I WONDER ABOUT THE INFANT I COULD PRODUCE WITH ANOTHER HOMO ECOLOGICUS. YET, WOULD I ENJOY MY PENIS IN A VAGINA AFTER WATCHING SO MANY HISTORICAL HOMOSEXUAL HOMO SAPIENS VIDEOS? DID THIS RANDOM PATTERN I HAVE CHOSEN TO FOLLOW ACROSS THE PARENT- DATABASE SHAPE MY DESIRES? OR WAS THIS PATTERN WHAT MAKES ME "ME"?
The Red Letholith (The Orb), acrylic and oil paint on birchwood panel, 123x101cm, 2019
The text on the Frame
~CL YEARS AFTER JOHN THE OCEANOGRAPHER'S DEATH, MEGATONS OF IRON REALLY WERE DUSTED IN THE OCEANS TO PROLIFERATE VARIOUS TYPES OF CYANOBACTERIA AND ALGAL COLONIES. THIS MIGHT HAVE COOLED THE XXII CENTURY EARTH AND KEPT ITS RICH "RICH." THE IRON FERTILISATION DID MAKE THE MICROBIAL BIOFILMS GROW RAPIDLY BUT DID NOT COOL THE SKY AS FAST. AFTER THIS FUTILE ATTEMPT, THE UNAVOIDABLE BECAME PALPABLE. AT LAST, MOST ENSLAVED SCIENTISTS AND SOME ETHICAL RICH REVOLTED AGAINST THE STATUS QUO TO ACTIVATE THE PROJECT, "PARENT", FOR THE FAR FAR FUTURE TO DRIVE ME CRAZY ON THIS SPACE WANDERING ORB.
The Red Letholith (Red Prisons), acrylic and oil paint on birchwood panel, 123x68cm, 2019
The Text on the Frame
THE MEGATONS OF IRON POWDER GAVE BIRTH TO THESE STRATA OF ROCK AS RED PRISONS FOR HISTORICAL SAPIO-VANITY. IT MEANS THAT, I AM THE GUARDIAN HERE. ON TOP OF THIS, THEY DESTINED ME TO CARVE AND SHAPE THE STONES AS THE ARTIST, SIMULTANEOUSLY THE OBSERVER AND THE OBSERVED. SO THAT I CAN EQUALIZE THE GAZE AND INTERNALIZE THE DISCIPLINE IN MY BODY FOR THOSE TO COME AFTER ME.
The Red Letholith (Berliner Triptych), Acrylic on Birch-wood Panel, 120 x 130 cm (folded), 2018
The Text on the Frames
THIS IS WHY THE PROJECT'S PHILOSOPHICAL INSPIRATION WAS ROMANTIC NOT A REALISTIC ONE IT WAS POSTHUMANISM MY ASS! THE DESIGNERS HAD NOT PLANNED TO BRING OTHER ORGANISMS WITH SYMMETRICAL NERVOUS SYSTEMS FROM THE ANTHROPOCENE; JUST VEGETATION TO GROW AND TO BE SEEN. THIS IS WHAT I DO MOSTLY... GROWING PLANTS WITH PARENT. THIS WAS A STRATEGY JUST IN CASE THE FAMILIAR-PLANTS HAD NO PROPER NUTRITION. THEY COULD NOT HAVE PREDICTED THE LIFE TODAY.BESIDE GROWING GRAINS, I HAVE TRIED TO FIND THE ANTHROPOCENE'S TRACE. I WENT THROUGH MANY GEOLOGY BOOKS OF THE PARENT-DATABASE. BY USING THE PARENT-ROVER AND ZIR cHEmIN INSTRUMENTS, I HAVE STUMBLED UPON A KIND OF SEDIMENTARY ROCK AS EVIDENCE. FROM A SPECIFIC STRATUM, I HAVE COLLECTED MANY SAMPLES. I HAVE NAMED IT THE RED LETHOLITH FROM THE TIME OF HOMO-SAPIENS...
The Red Letholith (Berliner Triptych), Acrylic on Birch-wood Panel, 120x 130 cm (central panel)
123x 63cm (wings), 2018
The Text on the Frames
THE BENEFITS OF WRITING ARE TWO FOLD, SAYS PARENT; THERAPEUTIC FOR MY DEPRESSIVE EPISODES AND IT MIGHT PRODUCE SOMETHING EDUCATIONAL FOR NEW ARRIVALS. FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, I HAD BEEN FROZEN AT THE ZYGOTE STAGE. PARENT AND I DEPARTED THE MOON FOR THE EARTH WHEN THE TIME CAME. I WAS EITHER A FETUS OR AN INFANT WHILE TRAVELING. ALTHOUGH, I DON'T REMEMBER THE MOON, IT LOOKS VERY BEAUTIFUL WHEN THERE ARE NO CLOUDS IN EARTH'S SKY. AMONGST ALL THE OTHER HOMO-ECOLOGICI, I WAS THE FIRST TO SURVIVE. SOME PARENTS HAD PROBLEMS WITH THEIR CRAFT'S LANDING OPERATIVE SYSTEMS, SOME COULDN'T PROVIDE ENOUGH NUTRITION FOR THE INFANTS. MY REPRODUCTION PAIR COULD NOT MAKE IT EITHER. WE WERE EIGHT YEARS OLD WHEN ZIR BODY WENT COLD DUE TO A GENETIC KIDNEY DISORDER. NOW, I AM WAITING FOR OTHER PARENTS TO ARRIVE... THIS TIME, TO ALTOGETHER NURTURE NEW ONES TO THRIVE. A SINGLE LAUNCH EVERY FIVE YEARS... EACH PARENT COMES TO NURTURE THE PAIRS. I FIRST HEARD ABOUT THE 6TH EXTINCTION FROM PARENT. INHABITANTS USED TO CALL THEMSELVES HUMAN BEFORE THEY DISAPPEARED. I HAVE LEARNT EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM AND THEIR MISTAKES. THE KIND OF MISTAKES WILL NOT BE REPEATED IF THE PROJECT PARENT MANAGES TO SEED THE PLANET WITH US... IF THERE WAS SUSTAINABLE LIFE AGAIN. THE EARTH HAS MADE IT. IT IS WONDERFUL HERE, TO FEEL THE AIR. OTHERS WITH NERVOUS SYSTEMS ARE SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT NOW THAN THEY WERE IN THE HUMAN ERA. I'VE LEARNED OF THEIR APPEARANCE AND BEHAVIORS FROM ARCHIVAL FOOTAGES IN THE PARENT-DATABASE. I, TOO, LOOK AND FUNCTION DIFFERENTLY THAN HOMO-SAPIENS. THE DESIGNERS BASED OUR CREATION ON THEIR GENETIC MAKEUP SO THAT WE COULD EASILY ADAPT TO AND HARMONIZE WITH THE EARTHS RENEWED ECOLOGY. THEY HAD ALSO DONE THEIR BEST FOR OUR EDUCATION, BUT I CAN STILL SENSE THEIR HUMANIST OUTLOOK. THE PARENT-SOFTWARE HAD BEEN PROGRAMMED BY THE DESIGNERS WHO, AFTER ALL, WERE HUMANS. WHY AM I HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE? HARMONY IS IN MY GENES. HOWEVER, I STILL AM AFRAID THAT I MIGHT HAVE ALREADY BEEN CONTAMINATED WITH SOME ASPECTS OF HUMANISM. I DON'T WANT US TO DESTROY THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE AGAIN WITH NARCISSISM. SOMETIMES I WANNA KILL MYSELF BUT I CAN'T THIS IS THE CORE OF MY FEAR...
More about Adnet Stone or Reichskanzlei-Marmor; Scientific Understanding of Red-Condensed Sedimentary Rocks and Their Future
This project revolves around a sedimentary rock known as the red-marble of Adnet (Salzburg). This marble is known for its use in the National Socialist architecture in Berlin, especially for the interior of the New Reich Chancellery; and according to legend was redistributed to numerous locations (Soviet Embassy of Unter den Linden, the underground station Thälmann-Platz or today's Mohrenstraße, the staircase of Humbolt University, the Pergamon Museum's main hall, the Maxim Gorki Theater) in the city of Berlin after the building's bombing. This stone has thus been named Reichskanzlei-Marmor (Mittig 2005, 178).
Sedimentary rocks contain depositions of many different materials. These rocks generally form on the bottom of shallow waters, and are then pushed onto land by tectonic movements. Limestone is the general term for sedimentary stones mostly containing calcium carbonate (CaCO3). It is known that unicellular or multicellular photosynthesizing organisms play a role in this event when they are calcified during the CO2 uptake from the atmosphere. They capture the carbon from CO2 and convert it to CaCO3 to build tiny plates on their exterior (Coutland 2008). They die very swiftly and sink to the bottom of the ocean, accelerating the formation of limestones.
The red pigmentation of red-condensed Limestones is the result of iron-oxidation or rust. Approximately 2.3 billion years ago, until the Great Oxidation Event (GOE), the chemical rusting in the ferric and ferrous waters was most probably green, not red or brown. The GOE occurred through the proliferation of cyanobacteria. They were the first photosynthetic organisms which favored iron-rich environments for their photosynthetic electron transport chain to extract energy via redox reactions from sunlight. This bacteria caused Oxygen, once poisonous to all life forms, to rise up and wipe out almost all life on Earth; the green rust to become red-brown and stimulated the formation the most common red-limestones. (Margulis & Sagan 1997, 99-110).
These limestones are classified as Marine Red Beds (MRBs), the formations of which designate the time period iron concentrations in the oceans decreased: starting from ~580 million years ago. That is why, MRBs have a lower concentration of iron (less than 10%) which is still enough to give a red characteristic to the stone. There are a total of five global MRB formations, including the Adnet formations of Austria (Song et al, 2017) which are found at the Adnet quarries and the Osterhorn mountains of the Northern Alps and located on the Southeast of the city Salzburg, specifically in the east and the northeast of the village of Adnet (Böhm 2013).
The oceanic iron levels have naturally decreased over time minimizing the reproduction of cyanobacteria which had GOE. This natural fact combined with other factors such as the CO2 over- load by humans lead to Global Warming. In 1988 John Martin, the former director of Moss Landing Marine Labs, suggested that dumping iron-dust in the ocean water will proliferate reproduction of planktons which absorb CO2 faster and produce oxygen; potentially cooling the Earth's atmosphere.
Theories around mimicking the GOE with modern cyanobacteria species such as Trichodesmium, Crocosphaera Watsonii, Synechococcus, Prochlorococcus, eukaryotic algae and many other microscopic ocean plants hold a high potential to reverse effects of greenhouse gases. Scientists and non-governmental organizations have voiced concerns about the unknown effects of such manipulations in oceanic ecosystems. With his sci-fi writing on his frames, Hank does not intend to discuss the future feasibility of these methods to mitigate anthropogenic effects on the planet. In fact, his intention is to transform these scientific facts and theories into artistic productions, with an obsessive focus on the red-condensed Limestones, their loaded pasts and their fictional future formations. Therefore, all of these facts and hypotheses provide for Hank more than enough input to speculate future trajectories of Letholith, his fictional stone, and imagine the aftermath of a possible future implementation of the iron dust seeding technique resulting in the return of red-condensed Limestones.
Böhm, Florian. 2003. Lithostratigraphy of Adnet Group (Lower to Middle Jurassic, Saltzburg, Austria). Piller, W. E. (Hg.), Wien: Stratigraphia Austriaca.
Crutzen, Paul, & Eugene F. Stoermer. 2000. "Anthropocene." IGBP Newsletter 41, 17-18. Courtland, Rachel. 2008. "Phytoplankton Responding to Climate Change" In Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science. doi:10.1038/news.2008.760
Margulis, Lynn & Sagan, Dorion. 1997. Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors. London: University of California Press, Ltd.
Mittig, Hans-Ernst. 2005. "Marmor der Reichskanzlei." In Die Schleifung: Zerstörung und Wiederaufbau historischer Bauten in Deutschland und Polen, 174-187. Hinz, H.-M. (Hg.), Wiesbaden: Harrassowiz Verlag.
Powell, Hugh. 2007. "Fertilizing the Ocean with Iron: Should We Add Iron to the Sea to Help Reduce Greenhouse Gases in the Air?". In Oceanus Magazine, Vol. 46 No.1. Letzter Zugriff am 5. Man 2018. https://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/fertilizing-the-ocean-with-iron.