David Brooks: L25

David Brooks: L25


T-shirts: Lonely Loricariidae. Made for the Lonely Loricariidae project Brooks did for Art Basel Statements in 2014.

This shirt’s graphic illustrates an illegible “L-Number” list which indicates all unknown Loricariidae species of fish that are known to circulate through the European aquarium trade. In other words, it is a list of the fish unknown to science (undescribed) which are bought and sold in the aquarium trade, though they lack a species name and thus have been given an arbitrary “L number” to commodify them. The designated “L-25” on the shirt is one of the fish on display during this Art Basel exhibition.

Lonely Loricariidae was a sculptural installation that brought together five wild-caught fish from the Amazon Basin whose identities hang between two conflicting knowledge groups: the scientific study and taxonomy of the Loricariidae family of fish, and the commodification of Loricariidae in the ornamental aquarium trade.

Of the 100,000 or more Loricariidae fish that are both legally and illegally exported each year from South America, there are dozens of new species unknown to science that enter the flow of this international aquarium trade. Once beyond the border of their country of origin, the fish become legal commodities within the market and are arbitrarily assigned an identifying “L”number since they lack a species name.

For Art Basel Statements, David Brooks positioned these living creatures as spectators on a set of aluminum sports bleachers. Here these fish, who had yet to be studied and named by scientists, became active observers rather than simply the observed.

— from Art Basel Statements press release

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