Gonzalo H. Rodriguez & Kuai Shen – The initiate (you) & the mystics (Them)

From September 28 to October 18, 2013, the Atelierhaus Quartier am Hafen in Cologne-Poll showed an interdisciplinary installation with new works by the artists Gonzalo H. Rodriguez and Kuai Shen, curated by Anne Mager, as part of its exhibition program.

The starting point of the exhibition “The Initiate (You) & The Mystics (Them)” were two of the most successful and complex social models on the planet: Humans and Ants. Gonzalo H. Rodriguez (born 1981 in Peru, studied at the San Francisco University and the Catholic University in Quito/Ecuador and at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne) and Kuai Shen (born 1978 in Ecuador, studied at the San Francisco University of Quito/Ecuador and at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne) did not simply juxtapose the two spheres of biology and sociology, but rather develop a dynamic and documentary ritual. In the exhibition space of the Quartier am Hafen they presented a transitionless, organic and artistic fusion of visual stagings. In a three-part spatial installation, the two artists, who here collaborated artistically for the first time, combined biological and sociological aspects with media, narrative and performative elements – and living organisms.

The exhibition space became a laboratory and discursive sphere, a research and living space. At the center was a room-sized installation of transparent acrylic spheres, home to specially bred ant colonies. Film footage illuminating this ecosystem revealed analogies of the social-parasitic ant state to human social life. The essayistic film, shown as the second component of the exhibition, combined urban observations and defamiliarized social science statements into a poetic and mystical narrative. The sound and slide performance at the opening expanded the multimedia scenario to include themes of exoticism, mysticism, and ritualized relationships. Gonzalo H. Rodriguez and Kuai Shen used images, sound and text to explore anthropological issues and the ritual transformation from human to animal.

With “The Initiate (You) & The Mystics (Them)” the artist duo crossed the boundaries of scientific disciplines and brought them together in a new artistic way. Gonzalo H. Rodriguez and Kuai Shen created a complex world of life and thought that explores the parallels and differences in the phenomenology of humans and ants. After all, according to anthropologist Lévi-Strauss, “You must first observe the differences to discover the characteristics.”

Kindly supported by Kunststiftung NRW and the Cultural Office of the City of Cologne.