Joey Holder presents Semelparous, a site-specific installation in the Pool and Spa of the now-closed Springhealth Leisure Center. Through decimated research of the European Eels complex migration, reproduction, and biological makeup, Holder examines the irreplicable forces of the natural world.
'Semelparous’ characterizes a species that undertakes a single reproductive episode before death. A unique and generative strategy in which the organism inputs all available resources into maximizing reproduction at the expense of future life. 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 for a single time. The eels' reproductive life has eluded scientists and philosophers for centuries, as humans have never witnessed nor recorded their spawning rituals.
Semelparous revolves around Holder’s newest video work, situated within a complex physical structure, the eel is depicted as a mythological symbol, biological specimen, and it’s most controversial role: food. Unable to replicate the species enigmatic reproductive life in captivity, young European Eels have been extracted and illegally trafficked to farms throughout various regions of Eastern Asia. These practices have severely impacted the populations, and as of 2011, the European Eel has remained critically endangered.
Responding to the eels population crisis, spawning migration, and structural characteristics of the Springhealth pool, Semelparous is a monument to the European Eel. Sculptural elements are extended from the existing architecture as plants and organic materials spill out from the skylights overhead to the depths of the pool. Through its immersive nature and biological sources, Semelparous speculates on our inability to replicate the encoded phenomenon present within an organism’s biological makeup.