28 Feb 2019


Neomylodon Listai Ameghino

Opening Thursday, 7 May, 6-8 pm. Welcome!

In 1895 Hermann Eberhard, a German sheep rancher found a strange hide in a cave near his house in Last Hope Sound, in the south of Chile. Two years later Francisco P. Moreno visited Eberhard and was struck by the hide. He asked to be allowed to cut a section of it and take it to the Museum of La Plata, of which he was director.

In 1898, Florentino Ameghino saw the hide in La Plata. He immediately recognised it as a Mylodon hide. However, Mylodons were one-ton, three metre long ground sloth known to have been extinct for ten thousand years. The fresh hide clearly implied that there were live Mylodons roaming Patagonia. Putting two and two together, Ameghino announced to the world the Neomylodon Listai, a live ground sloth hidden in the forests of Patagonia.

Axel Straschnoy‘s exhibition is a research based art project about science and speculation, about the construction of knowledge and truths –  but also a story about personal and professional competition, about the colonial culture of exploration, and about deceit, delusion and the culture of display.

The exhibition will travel between museums in the Nordic countries as well as venues in Argentine and Chile, the antipodes of this strange and challenging story about the animal briefly known as the Neomylodon Listai Ameghino. While the work travels, it will only show the material locally available. When premiered at Gallery Augusta at Suomenlinna, a small amount of preserved coprolytes from the cave will be on display, the only scientific specimen that reached as far as Finland.

The work will consistently point at what is not present, all the layers of the story that reveal themselves indirectly, and the documentation that connect the exhibition to so many other narratives. The most important story might be the one about science and the truth, how theories and certainties are projected like the figures you might see when watching clouds, only to be dispersed and replaced by others.

In collaboration with The Finnish Museum of Natural History LUOMUS, Helsinki International Artist Programme HIAP, Museum of Evolution, Museo de La Plata and Malmö Museer. Supported by The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture AVEK, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, The National Library of Finland, Oskar Öflunds Stiftelse and Nordic Baltic Mobility Programme.

Curated by Pontus Kyander.

About the artist

Axel Straschnoy (born 1978) is a visual artist from Buenos Aires based in Helsinki. His long-term and research focused projects include Kilpisjärvellä (2011-12), a planetarium film on exploration in northern Lapland under the Northern Lights, La Figure de la Terre (2014), a short film based on the book The Figure of the Earth by 18th century French mathematician and explorer Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis and the lecture-performance series Notes on the Double Agent(ongoing). Straschnoy has participated in Le Pavillon residency at Palais de Tokyo (2008-09) and trained in Art History at University of Buenos Aires.