Project Room #1: Theo Drebbel in Viasaterna, Milan

We are happy to announce our latest curatorial project: Theo Drebbel – Project Room #1, the first chapter of a special programme of brief exhibitions dedicated to emerging artists and new discoveries, hosted at Viasaterna, Milan.

With this project, the gallery presents for the first time to the public the research and work of Theo Drebbel, invited to dialogue with the works of Luca Andreoni and Zhou Siwei as part of the exhibition Your Silent Face, curated by Fantom. In the project room, a series of eight dioramas and drawings in Chinese ink, produced by Theo Drebbel between 2014 and 2015. Over the course of the opening evening, visitors may take part together with the artist in the production of new dioramas, in a sort of interactive game/performance.

With this exhibition, Viasaterna presents the public debut of Theo Drebbel and her research. The name by which the young Neapolitan artist goes (class of 1990), is a pseudonym. Within her works Drebbel combines evocations from a countless range of fields and disciplines: architecture, sculpture, drawing, miniatures, natural sciences, alchemy and linguistics all come together to bring about alternative, unreal and surreal worlds in an equilibrium as precarious as it is perfect.

Dioramas. This is the main form that Drebbel’s work takes. Little platforms on which the artist lays out a series of found objects (botanical traces, shells, metal containers, glass ampoules…) and, always, a little plastic animal. This may be a penguin, a rhinoceros, a turtle, a llama or many other species besides, in a rich bestiary which, starting from the universe of meanings which each one refers to, go on to link up to Theo Drebbel’s own biography, staging a number of short episodes. Or rather: everything starts out from her own personal history, which remains largely concealed and unrecognisable as such, only to transform in a sort of syncopated, oneiric, fantastical narrative, one which breaks down every limit between the possible and the impossible, exploiting the memory as a trigger for setting off a forgetting mechanism.

Associated on the basis of unpredictable yet rigorously geometrical schemas, Theo Drebbel’s relics make up an alphabet which is at the same time mysterious and intuitive, one to be approached in religious silence before it unleashes an endless carnival of links and digressions. The drawings that accompany every diorama, reproducing a floorplan of all the elements present (except for a little discrepancy which may be resolved in an act of removal) do nothing but broaden this relational network. The story spilling out from within the edges of every diorama spreads across to the corresponding image and vice versa. The result, in spatial terms, is an installation. It works like an accelerator of memory, whereby every object generates a stimulus linked to a memory, which leads on to another and yet another… All the way to oblivion.

The exhibition is part of the two-year programme curated by Fantom for Viasaterna, a new space for contemporary art inaugurated in Milan in Spring 2015.

Theo Drebbel
Project Room #1 
Opening: February 23, 2016 at 6 pm
From February 24 to March 11, 2016 
Via Leopardi 32, Milan