Rike Droescher and Zoe Koke
10 October - 18 November, 2023
In the serpent’s tail, artists Rike Droescher and Zoe Koke draw on ancient references, represented by the Ouroboros, an archetypal symbol of a serpent eating its own tail. Traced back to Ancient Egypt, the symbol cycled between various spiritual and mythological traditions, forging a ubiquitous meaning of perpetuity. By questioning linear narratives, the exhibition is a collection of overlapping memories and experiences, doubts and urges. The artists approach the work with a fractal glance on humanity’s technological achievements as well as on its fragility.
Blurring timecodes of contemporary and primordial worlds, Droescher and Koke build two distinct scenarios divided by floors in the gallery, where they focus on the human-nature relationship, with its remnants of culture and technology as well as evidence of optimism, grief and destruction. On the ground floor, the artists construct a bright and vibrant environment: Koke's luminous landscapes offer atmospheric optimism, while Droescher's
sculptures point to natural rhythms, forces and human mediation. While gleaming apple-shaped ceramic sculptures evoke the biblical tree of the forbidden fruit as the breaking point between eternal and mortal life, Koke’s paintings are a hymn to a flourishing nature, dreamscapes of an Edenic primordial world. In the lower floor of the gallery, as if transitioning from light to darkness, Koke's restless landscapes conjure a counterpoint to Droescher’s dormant remains of human domination. The artworks engage the viewer, guiding and disrupting their path, by occupying and reshaping the space. Here, nature is sinister, the paintings depict fire and gas, architecture and objects are outlines of an abandoned place of refuge. Thus, the exhibition space turns into an upside-down world where the relationship between humans and nature is characterized by conflict rather than proximity. There is a dialogue between the two fictional environments of the exhibition, wherein they activate an energetic stream of dialectic perceptions and feelings, – asking how human survival and evolution continues to move backwards, as well as forwards, remaining both in flux and unknown.
Across a shifting landscape, the artists weave a tortuous path around questions of humanity – from the mysticism and magic of the primordial era, to the crisis of contemporary times – they ponder the bond between human beings and their surroundings as a continuous conversation about power. Droescher and Koke attempt to reshape and tailor new landscapes and spaces as a matter of bodily experience.
Text developed in conversation with Art Historian Ilaria Monti