• Nicholas Mangan

Nicholas Mangan is represented by MOSSMAN in New Zealand.

Galeria Plan B is pleased to announce the group exhibition Werethings curated by Mihnea Mircanwith with works of Raymond Barion, Becky Beasley, Camille Blatrix, Patricia L. Boyd, Sarah Browne, Erik Bünger, Lauren Burrow, Alex Impey, Ana Maria Gomez Lopez, Victor Man, Nicholas Mangan, Jacqueline Mesmaeker, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Ana Prvacki, Mladen Stilinović, James Williamson and Ran Zhangto to open on Friday, the 22nd of November 2019.

In his 1996 essay Vogel’s Net, the anthropologist Alfred Gell proposed that animal traps can be thought of as functional artworks and vice versa, that there is an operational similarity between traps apprehending their prey and the capture of attention in artworks. Both types of mechanisms intertwine environments, perspectives and intentions: traps and artworks rearrange, in the form of a weapon or in that of a question, perceptual or technological thresholds between worlds, or ways of being in worlds, boundaries that are turned into lures, snares or meandering interpretive pathways. While it does not focus on works explicitly preoccupied with the forms, signs or mechanics of trapping or on artistic projects that explore the posterity of the essay in conversations about the post-Duchampian canon and indigenous artefacts, this exhibition revisits Gell’s argument through a series of oblique takes on capture and entanglement, that reproduce thesway between potential energy and kinetic burst that unites the hunter’s design and the prey’s demise, between the concealment of the trap and the moment it reveals itself by springing shut. Werethings brings together works that inhabit spaces between species and modi operandi, ways ofform- and sense-making, the visual and symbolic agency of ‘promiscuous’ objects, Gell’s word for artefacts that move freely between transactional domains to activate an indefinite range of potentials. The exhibition thinks about things that draw and detain our thinking and make thinking accessible or imaginable as a kind of thing, things that do things and thus borrow the traits of personhood or usurp the prerogatives of the self, about relations between things that were and might return, futures and pasts, extinctions and emergences, about werethings that mutate, veer and swirl in much the same way that medieval werewolves and other metamorphic beasts transgressed the formal and moral frontiers of the monstrous.

“Every work of art that works is like this, a trap or a snare that impedes passage, and what is any art gallery but a place of capture, set with what Boyer calls ‘thought-traps’, which hold their victims for a time, in suspension?”.

An image of multispecies entanglement appears in Nicholas Mangan’s Neural Nest, part of the long-term project Termite Economies. The sculpture conflates a brain scan and a sample from a termite nest.Studied as a biomimetic ‘mentor’ or companion species, termites are believed capable to generate complex solutions of spatial and ‘managerial’ organization, to enact novel forms of collective intelligence that new industrialisms can learn from or adopt. Mangan notes that while termite mounds are made of dirt and the insect’s saliva, and could therefore be understood as stomachs, they are also highly receptive structures and conscious of their environments. Integrating ventilation and temperature regulation, the mounds arise out of complex systems of task distribution, communication and command, as burrowing circumvolutions that approximate the image of a collective brain, of the eusocial structures of the swarm, which contemporary design aims to coopt as model for imagining wireless communication systems, for perfecting distributed systems or informing the ways in which neural machines deep-learn.

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday-Saturday, 12–6pm


  • Potsdamer Strasse 77-87
  • Building G, Second Courtyard
  • 10785 Berlin