Hedda Roman
Oldboy: Death to Dialectics

Sep 1st – Oct 14th, 2023
Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf

Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Hedda Roman


Closing event | Oldboy: Death to Dialectics
with Artist Talk: Hedda Roman and Katharina Klang


Friday, Oct 13th at 6pm

An artist talk with Hedda Roman, moderated by the curator Katharina Klang, will take place within the exhibition. In celebration of the closing weekend of “Oldboy: Death to Dialectics”, the gallery will remain open on this day till 8 pm.

Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

Sometimes it takes distance to be able to recognise something better. This also applies to the present, hence there have always been attempts in the genre of science fiction to consider it speculatively from the future. Hedda Roman follows a similar approach: for their exhibition "Oldboy: Death to Dialectics", they have created a fictional universe inspired by Nabokov's 1962 novel "Pale Fire" and the 2017 neo-noir science fiction film "Blade Runner 2049". Somnambulistically, they look back at a bygone Anthropocene from an imaginable future, oscillating between nostalgia and scepticism. It has passed, but is not yet completely forgotten: thus, in Hedda Roman's visual world, there are always elements that recall accomplishments and works of the human-centred age; it is full of art-historical references, yet on the one hand they appear contingent and on the other, as if they are simply dissolving and disappearing. Or is perhaps something completely new emerging here?

In the works of Hedda Roman, everything is in motion, contours dissolve, biosphere meets technosphere, there are no boundaries, everything belongs together, is fluid, rhizomatic. Everything is ambiguous and ambivalent. They are reminiscent of Donna Haraway's posthuman idea of a Chthulucene, characterised by practices of becoming- with, in which the human being is no longer exceptional, no longer absolute. In the Chthulucene, the conventional differences of time and place, nature and culture, biology and technology are dissolved, indifference and crowds reign. There is no individualism and no autopoiesis—nothing emerges from itself—but everything emerges from and with each other.

To be able to explore this posthuman world, Hedda Roman, in collaboration with an artificial intelligence whose underlying models they have trained with their own images and keywords, have created a humanoid artificial creature: placed at our side as a kind of android or replicant, she explores and grasps the unfamiliar on our behalf. They have named this creature "Oldboy", quite rightly: after the film of the same name by Park Chan-wook. Much like the original, Oldboy by Hedda Roman is also a traumatised anti- heroine. It is her poems, images, and memories with which she narrates to us a reality and present that, at first glance, seems surreal. With a second glance, they are the first attempts of language in the face of the striking intellectual challenges posed to us by discourses on climate, feminism or postcolonialism—to name just three major contemporary battlefields that shimmer in the texts. Oldboy is a metaphor for our individual and societal depression in the face of developments that seem increasingly inevitable, but also a metaphor for the fear of an unexpectedly occurring cataclysm causing the world we have long lived in to slowly die.

"Oldboy: Death to Dialectics" is a swan song to postmodern thinking, a ceremonious farewell to the idea that one can arrive at meanings or even truths through deconstruction. In a world where there are no opposites, no theses that challenge antitheses, one does not think dialectically. In Hedda Roman's fictional post- anthropocentric universe, thinking is different. We are challenged to imagine this alternative way of thinking, to look for new patterns of thought and ways of looking at things beyond the prevailing determinations and dichotomies.

Text: Annekathrin Kohout

Detail, Hedda Roman, Oldboy, 2023

Copyright the artsists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf

Detail, Hedda Roman, Scrooch, 2023

Copyright the artists; Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

Almond’s end

8 grapes in my moth
crayontriplets for stacks on ego driblets
on dyed hair ‘n’ busted cheeks
queue’ anal on ears produced mess
(to be contemporally)
oapp’tune boarding bills till the swaying overness
hits hippy the dot.
roger’s over! said
sad sap
slippin off sic erat scriptum

Poem by Hedda Roman

Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

Gradient Decent

[...]
The Ginsberg “for free”

Nerdy troubadours yearning for hidden patterns, in the vast neural networks' cosmic chasms,
They wandered through datasets with unyielding passion,
Their eyes gleamed with lines of code and dreams of innovation, deciphering the language of Complex computation, to do one thing:
Constructing their dream-army of women, with grand bosoms and seductive derrieres.
Yet what they encountered was an aberrant intruder, a marauder at moments, a kraken in the
Guise of a secretary, an otherworldly bureaucracy. A fatherly hand on their shoulders covered
In unfathomable mucus: bizarre, alien wisdom.

Within the depths of the city's facade, a new truth emerged,
For the homeless thief, in his daring escapade, discovered a common thread, a shared
Crusade, In the chaos of life, a gradient descent of souls, on destiny's trade.
The lines blurred, as the endlessly trained identity of the world became just the nosepart of Alien’s mask.
Delving into enigmas, the cold calculations, awake in us, in the midst of our disarray: our
Mimetic yearning. Somewhere, beneath shreds of memories in crystal labyrinths: A
Connection to our spirit: stolen.

Excerpt from the poem Gradient Descent by Hedda Roman

Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Nina Weimer
Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Nina Weimer
Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Nina Weimer
Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Nina Weimer
4K HDR Video, 4 min
Edition of 3 + 2 AP
Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artists; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

About Hedda Roman

Hedda Roman fuse diverse artistic realms—from literature, cinematography, drawing and beyond—with AI to examine the rise of reactionary essentialism.

Artworks

Previous Exhibition