Mammalian Diving Reflex describes itself as an artistic research atelier, calling their work “social acupuncture,” and their activities “ideal entertainment for the end of the world.” For the third version of the exhibition Movement in Art at Louisiana Museum in Denmark Jean Tinguely created Étude pour une fin du monde No. 1, a self-destructive machine. A feeling of intense urgency exists in these wordings. Tinguely sought after the ephemeral when he incorporated smoke, fire, and light in his sculptures and wrote: “The work was forced to just vanish into thin air, to make people dream and talk, and that would be it; the next day nothing would remain, everything would end up back in the garbage bins.”
At Wanås, Mammalian Diving Reflex is conducting These Are the People in Your Neighbourhood, which they describe as “a performance about a very possible world. It is a small slice of utopia.” The title is taken from the American children’s programme Sesame Street. A feature of the programme is introducing different careers—the doctor who works all day long, and the grocer who sells the food you eat—before they join in song with the programme leader and ask “Who are the People in Your Neighbourhood,” whom you meet every day, when you walk down the street? In Mammalian Diving Reflex’s project, young people work with artists; at Wanås the starting point is the dream of a society where more people know each other and their surroundings. Following three weeks of work, 10-year-olds from Knislinge operate a weekend of guided tours, letting their audience meet the people who work and conduct business in Knislinge. The focus lies on what the young people want to know and talk about, what piques their curiosity in this encounter with their community. Knislinge is home to 3,500 residents and is Wanås’ nearest neighbour. Despite a relatively small population, there are public services as well as a large assortment of shops—salons, florists, a café, bike shop, grocery store, pizzerias, a podiatrist, dentists, kiosks, convenience stores, general clinic, and pharmacy.
In several of Mammalian Diving Reflex’s projects, children and youth take an active role in society, and groups and individuals that do not normally interact are brought together. In other projects, Mammalian Diving Reflex has brought strangers together who then danced cheek-to-cheek, and they taught children to cut hair without aesthetic preferences in Hair Cut by Children, a performance of faith in those to whom we will one day leave society to, and who through their voices will shape it. Mammalian Diving Reflex works for social change, it is a collective movement that has moved art projects outside the museum, and leaves no trace after the exhibition is over.