Instar (6.9 kWh)

Is a site-specific battery installation based in Dunkirk, France, between June 2023 and January 2024.

Illegal items (e.g. drugs) are confiscated by customs and extracted from circulating on the market. Law determines that these items are immediately destroyed through incineration. However, the leftover of this process generally enters another circulation; that of the electric grid. In 2022 alone, 47,008 kg of cocaine was confiscated and consequently destroyed.

After the incineration of a batch of confiscated cocaine in the Spring of 2023 - found in the docks of Rotterdam between a shipment of melons from Honduras - a battery was charged, directly at the power plant.

This ‘cocaine battery’ heats a radiator for the duration of ‘Triennale Art & Industrie’ at the FRAC Grand Large in Dunkirk. Between June 2023 and January 2024 the battery keeps a radiator at moderate temperature to offer the ultimate conditions for various endemic moth pupae to hatch over time and fly out into the vast environment. As the seasons pass new pupae will be added to the installation to meet the hatching period of different local species. This precise schedule was developed in close collaboration with Thomas Huet, a lepidopterist based in Normandy, France.
*Latin for ‘form’ or ‘likeness’, the ‘instar’ refers to a body in between the shedding of skins. An incomplete metamorphosis. The former body being digested into the next, made of cells entirely different and radically the same. Finally, when a moth or butterfly emerges from the pupa, one body is destroyed and one is generated. The unfixed state of the instar contains life and death simultaneously, a pupa is both a birth chamber and a coffin.
Electricity generated from burning confiscated cocaine, lithium batteries, transformer, battery management system, heater element, cast iron radiators, heat regulator, electric cables, endemic moth pupae (including: Lasiocampa quercus, Thera cupressata, Peribatodes rhomboidaria and Scotopteryx peribolata), resin.

Many thanks to: curators Anna Colin, Camille Richert an Henriette Gillerot, Peter-Jan Schouten (EV Europe),  HARC authorities, including Dutch customs team Douane Belastingdienst, Thomas Huet, and all the team at Frac Grand Large.

photo 1,4: Martin Argyroglo image 2,3: René Martínez Sánchez
photo 5: HARC authorities

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