While many people found them spooky due to their Dracula-like nature even before COVID-19, the pandemic has affected the reputation of these little animals even further: bats were suspected of being the source of the new virus and their bodies also contain numerous other dangerous pathogens. From a social and ecological perspective bats are model creatures from which humans can learn a great deal. This fact provides the starting point for Monster Chetwynd’s (* 1973) sculptural installation in several parts The Futurology Kiosk. These mammals not only look after their few young with great care, but they also live symbiotically with fireflies and algae that provide them with light and nutrients. In addition, they play an important role in the ecosystem: they use up hardly any resources and over 500 species of plants rely on bats to pollenate their flowers. And their super-immunity ensures that the many pathogens and viruses that they carry inside them cannot harm them.
The British artist has enabled a colony of bats to settle in the former kiosk at Recklinghausen main station. A protest scene develops that – like a tableau vivant – appears to be frozen in mid-action. With outstretched wings, the bats look down from the roof of the kiosk and greet visitors. These human-sized creatures command the space with confidence and, in a gesture of self-empowerment, draw attention to their sustainable and future-proof qualities with a big banner.
As early as 2003, Monster Chetwynd began Bat Opera, an ongoing series of paintings, in which she explored the animals’ contradictory qualities. For the installation in the kiosk the artist has worked almost exclusively with recyclable materials.
The installation The Futurology Kiosk was developed as part of the exhibition Ruhr Ding: Klima and was on display from May 22—June 27, 2021 in Recklinghausen.