The Initiate (You) & The Mystics (Them)

2013 // ant mediated installation and experimental documentary by Kuai Shen and Gonzalo H. Rodríguez // Spherical terrariums inhabited by two ants colonies / video projections / automatic slide-projection  

The Quartier am Hafen Poll in Cologne was presented from Sept. 28th until Oct. 18th, 2013, within its annual exhibition program, an interdisciplinary installation by Gonzalo H. Rodríguez und Kuai Shen, curated by Anne Mager.

The experimental documentary and biologically-inspired audiovisual installation with two colonies of European ants explore the phenomenology of anthropocentrism: a transdisciplinary visual discourse on the limitations and biases of human perception and the mystics of mundane social rituals.

The film extends the ethnographic subject of Rodríguez’s ominous short film “The Initiate And The Mystics” to the study of ants colonies. The installation explores the human limitation to reflect on ants societies either as a model for efficient social labor or as an alternative hierarchical system where individuality has no meaning. The human individual confronts the meaning of being social by reproducing fears and anxieties and projecting them onto the complex behavior of other animals. Our intention is to reformulate the post-human relation to ants as a ritual event without end, which seeks the return to nature: the transformation of human into animal.

This project was kindly supported by the Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Cultural Affairs Office of Cologne.