In her work “Would you would you would you•••••••?”, Haha Wang deals with the question of self-organisation (stigmergy) and forms of resistance. One point of reference is the novel “The Baron in the Trees” by Italian writer Italo Calvino. The story follows young aristocrat Cosimo as he breaks with bourgeois society and retreats into the trees after a quarrel at the dinner table where he refuses to eat snails. And although his life is marked by philosophical, amorous and combative adventures, it takes place, without exception, in the treetops — never leaving them until his death. The path of resistance against the bourgeois social order taken by the young Cosimo in the 1957 novel is found again by Wang in 2022 in Lützerath, where the protesters occupied local trees. The radical connection with nature — physical and symbolic — inspired the artist, as did the self-organisation of the community of protesters, who managed to rapidly organise thousands of people against an eviction. Here, responsibilities were distributed organically through social media or agreed signals on location.
She finds a similar method of non-verbal communication and localisation in nature: ant colonies communicate invisibly via scents. Their communities are organised towards a higher goal, where the individual’s needs come after the collective concern.
So, what can we learn by thinking collectively? How might this change society? In the exhibition space, Haha Wang invites visitors to climb up, while, back on the ground, a colony of ants takes over a 3D-printed sculpture; Cosimo's dinner table. Central to her work is the role of the body; just as the baron climbed the trees and the protesters set themselves in motion with their bodies, Wang invites visitors to climb onto the site and become part of the installation itself.
Commissioned by New Now Festival