Kuai Shen

The Initiate (You) & The Mystics (Them)

experimental documentary and ant-mediated installation on phenomenologies of anthropocentrism

with Gonzalo H Rodriguez

Look carefully at Them. You can say this is simply effective labour. They know this is more than that.

Let's formulate it differently. The species you observe here are actively looking for a symbiotic contact with other species. This might be only possible within the recognition of one with another as a similar individual who can be integrated into the same group.

Even more, at the core of such recognition lies the instinctive belief of the possession of animal socialization: territoriality, family and security.

To be precise, they are not literally believing in animality as a physical presence but about the idea that the the animal is somehow...existent.

At the end, it appears to be all about categorizations... a label, a mask.

The only difference between you and them is the number.

Things that have once been in contact remain united: association by proximity; just as association by resemblance corresponds quite precisely to the attractio similium of magic: like produces like.

They identify with the whole, not the individual, but the holistic totem.

You and them. The Initiate and The Mystics.

A superorganism giving a hint of transcendence... metamorphosis.

The Initiate (You) & The Mystics (Them)

Experimental documentary and biologically-inspired audiovisual installation with two colonies of European ants, which explores 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 explores the sociality of ants and the human limitation to reflect on them 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 has being kindly supported by the Kunststiftung NRW and the Kulturamt of the City of Cologne.


    (2013) Quartier am Hafen, Cologne - curated exhibtion by Anne Mager