Aristotle sought to prove that physis could be defined in more than one way, in order to thereby prove that nature could be defined in many ways. Retaining the ancient idea of physis as growth, Aristotle argued that growth’s four causes should be integrated into the definition: matter (material), power/motion (efficiency), form, and end (final). Aristotle’s definition of physis was unique in that it formed a relationship between art and nature; he claimed that physis (nature) is dependent on techne (art). Aristotle distinguished art from nature by their different efficient causes: nature is its own source of motion, whilst techne always requires a source of motion outside itself. He sought to show that art contains neither its form nor source of motion within itself. Just as the process of an acorn becoming an oak tree is natural with its own driving force behind it, so there is no external force pushing this acorn to its final state; the acorn is progressively developing towards one specific end. Like the acorn, art per se has neither form nor source of motion; it calls for the being of physis.
An artist residency set in Northern Greece named Physis sought out to translate this scientific, theoretical and philosophical concept into a creative space for artists to develop work in relation to their natural surroundings. One year after this artist residency, several of the participating artists meet in Berlin to discuss their past experiences together. They criticize and converse over the purpose of this residency, its effects on the participants and whether it facilitated physis.
During this residency, many extraordinary things occurred. In order for the artists to be inspired by nature, they were taken to an isolated and abandoned old monastery in the mountains with little contact to the outside world, suboptimal facilities and limited possibilities to leave the residency space. Strained relationships between the organizing administration and participants, a flea epidemic, limited rations of food, and agitation on the part of participants were just some of the events that took place in the microcosm that the Physis Project became.
The need to meet again in order to evaluate this experience was hugely meaningful to the artists. Those participants who indeed met again saw that each other’s work had developed as consequence of the residency and realised the tremendous impact this experience, either negatively or positively, has had on them.
The idea of an Anti-Physis show came to life. In relation to Aristotle’s theory that ‘art calls for the being of physis’, the residency indeed caused a sweeping sense of motion and impact in the artists who participated. Physis sets a trigger for an exhibition that will provide a platform to express a sense of the residency experience itself: full of suspense, confinement, and their personal physis/anti-physis development in response to this experience. Several other artists who were not in the Physis Project itself but speak within their work of this involvement with incarceration and developing as a result of perplexity, will be invited to exhibit. The new dialog between the original Physis participants and the new artists will be ongoing and a crucial part of this group show. Finally, a documentary taken on the days of the residency itself will be shown amongst works of the artists.
With: Meydad Eliyahu, Anne Grefstad, Tingwei Li, Zohar Fraiman, Mark Tomka, Fee Kleiß, Mira Thönessen, Johannes Bansmann, Anna Fawdry, Milian Symanek