"Eros-Thanatos” by Erika Harrsch
With sound collaboration by Edmund Mooney

Eros-Thanatos is an interactive multilevel visual/sound-scape, including video, sound and sixty thousand life-size, cutout monarch butterflies printed on polycarbonate. The butterflies are displayed on the floor on synthetic grass simulating the ground covered with millions of dead butterflies in the forest. The viewer can walk on the thick layer of butterflies, grab, play and crush them underfoot. This installation is an artificial recreation of a natural vulnerable environment, the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Michoacán, México. The installation becomes alive with the public interaction that slowly creates the devastation of the piece itself.

Eros-Thanatos represents the life cycle on earth and the results of environmental devastation caused by human interaction. It is also a reference to migration, transformation and adaptability, a re-contextualization of the way we perceive nature and reality. It Addresses the open world contained in a closed room, limpidness and purity mixed with obscurity and density. Such violence is a part of nature, shown here through the forces of destruction and chaos. In spite of the violent root of our being, the radiance of life seems to appear in the realm where death and eroticism are together. During brief moments, including sexual activity, birth and death, we experience the continuity of life. The passage of the Monarch becomes the emblem of that understanding.

The moving images present the real flight of thousands of Monarch butterflies filmed at their migration sanctuary in México. The video projection shows the sky alive with the flight of these graceful creatures, creating whimsical and almost unreal visual patterns. The speed of the flight, the intensity and vividness of the monarch butterflies’ environment show here the forces of nature.

The prerecorded sound sources of human female exhalations and sighs were digitally mixed at a very intimate level with the ultra-amplified natural sound of thousands of living butterflies at flight. Their quivering wings make a unique fluttering sound when beating against each other. Sound and image captured on-site and presented together create a sense of “otherworldliness’. Although we may build a world where work and reason prevail, the natural instincts, obsessions and desires remain.

Eros-Thanatos has been presented at:

- FotoFest - Biennial 2006, DiverseWorks Houston, TX. USA
- Leme Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil, 2007.
- Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium, 2008.
- 5th Seoul Media Art Biennale 2008, Seoul Museum of Art. Korea
- Centre d'Art Contemporain du Luxembourg belge. Belgium-