Joey Holder, Semelparous (2020). 7'47".

Joey Holder


7 – 21 August 2020

MattFlix presents Joey Holder’s Semelparous (2020).

Semelparous is a monument to the European Eel; a species that undertakes a single reproductive episode before death. The eels adopt a generative strategy, unique to ‘semelparous’ species, in which the organism inputs all available resources into maximising reproduction at the expense of its future survival.

Each autumn, European Eels leave their freshwater river homes and migrate more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to the bottom of the Sargasso Sea to breed a single time, and die. The eels' reproductive life has eluded scientists and philosophers for centuries, as humans have neither witnessed nor recorded their spawning rituals.

The video work sees the eels depicted as a mythological symbol, biological specimen and, controversially, food. Unable to replicate the species’ enigmatic reproductive life in captivity, young European Eels have been extracted and illegally trafficked to farms across regions of East Asia. These practices have severely impacted the populations, and as of 2011, the European Eel has remained critically endangered.

Semelparous was originally exhibited as part of a site-specific installation in the pool and spa of the now-closed Springhealth Leisure Centre. Semelparous was originally commissioned and curated by Julia Greenway and was supported by Arts Council England and presented in partnership with Harlesden High Street. Further support was provided by the Zabludowicz Collection and the Exhibitions Hub at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Joey Holder is represented by Seventeen, London.

Duration: 7:47

Music: 'Padang Galaxxx' by Gabber Modus Operandi (Label: svbkvlt)