For the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014), Ann Lislegaard exhibited Time Machine (2011) at Carriageworks; as well as Oracle, Owls… Some Animals Never Sleep (2012–13) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
Wily, cunning, otherworldly and wise, the fox is symbolically a spirited creature. The protagonist in Lislegaard’s Time Machine, however, looks slightly the worse for wear as it delivers a fragmented account of an uncertain journey of future time. Titled after the 1895 H. G. Wells novel, Lislegaard’s projected animation utilises the genre of science fiction to explore the expressive and conceptual limits of language. Stuttering and spluttering, the fox attempts to tell a disjointed tale of planets and eclipses, ‘emergent futures and unknown pasts’. Words are repeated and sentences flow into one another. English lapses into the murmur of Nordic languages. Oscillating between nonsense and coherence, the animal appears, linguistically and physically, to be on the verge of collapse.
Lislegaard is fascinated by the human–machine and human–animal relationship, and the memories or markings that punctuate all of our lives. Her characters twitch and shudder, seemingly breaking up or coming apart, threatening to reveal the mechanisms by which they function – perhaps a master controller behind the scenes. Her work draws on popular culture tropes of future dystopias, such as devastation by nuclear war.
Throughout her artistic practice, Lislegaard has paid frequent homage to the work of science fiction writers and filmmakers. Avoiding straightforward re-presentation, the artist uses their ideas as a starting point for her own reflections on notions of language, gender roles, sociopolitical constructs and the future. As a genre, science fiction provides room for reflection on the state of humanity and meditation on contemporary ideas without abiding by the realities of the physical world. For Lislegaard, science fiction serves as an analytical tool, providing her with the language and the licence needed to combine and develop her ideas.
Significant solo exhibitions of Lislegaard’s work include ‘Speaking in Tongues’, Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam (2012); ‘Time Machine’, Murray Guy Gallery, New York (2011); and ‘Haunted. Tapping of the Fox Sisters’, Marabouparken Art Gallery, Stockholm (2010). Her work has been seen in numerous international group exhibitions, including the 12th Biennale de Lyon (2013); ‘Approximately Infinite Universe’, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2013); ‘Theatre of the World’, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart (2012); and the 27th São Paulo Biennial (2006).