Last summer, I volunteered at an organic farm in South Sweden. On my way from France, I stopped in Copenhagen and spent one day in the city. Being a curious person, I could not help but visit Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center. I didn’t know what to expect from it, but I decided to open my five senses to art anyway.
One could not imagine my surprise when I saw David Shrigley’s new exhibition in the main hall. DO NOT TOUCH THE WORMS was perfectly in line with the theme of my summer! Twenty beautiful-big-flabby-pink earthworms. Dying, coming to life, dying and coming to life again, along with a big LED clock counting down. Nothing more. Only the audience and the worms dancing in the room.
“Worms have played a more important part in the history of the world than humans would at first suppose.” Darwin
It was only after one month spent at the farm that I truly understood the meaning of the artwork. David Shrigley managed to tackle a serious subject: worms are underestimated. Even though they play a major role in aeration, irrigation and fertility of soil.
At first sight, the exhibition makes us smile. It seems like the artist designed a playground for children. However, after a few minutes in the room, we get hit by something infused with both satire and gravity, in a very subtle way. When the worms awake, the scale between worms and humans is absurdly inverted. Their importance suddenly becomes apparent. However, when they deflate, we are reminded that we cannot escape our own death. Through this instability we are encouraged to reflect about serious subjects: racism, climate change, pandemics and food chain issues.