Rabbithole Studio, May 2014


"CHEMOSYNTHESIS is a diary of the adaptation of two animals, their creativity, their religion, to a new diet and a new ecosystem. From the materials of a hospital world, Andres and Ritvo set out to build a simulacrum of the world they once loved. The art is in the failure of this art to imitate life. It is in the insurmountable obstacles, psychological and logistical, that the creativity of Andres and Ritvo are forced to take on in the face of hospitalization, isolation, medication, enervation. The art is in their tragic struggle to create despite it. It is a show that is part performance art, part poetry reading, part visual installation. It promises the viewer a scuba suit and immersion not just in a mind quite unlike their own, but in an experience unlike anything they could possibly fathom.

Ritvo and Andres find substitution for sunlight: in an eerily charming installation, Andres lights a room with bottles of painkillers collected during cancer treatment and transforms them into strange, glowing cylindrical fruit. They forge new traditions: Andres, too weak to man her sewing machine, makes embroidery using her own hair in the tradition of Victorian mourning—but a hospital gown is the medium into which her chemo-poisoned hair is stitched and the imagery is startling, unforgivingly clear: skulls, peeled open eyeballs, stigmata: reminders that suffering and death are an integral part of life. In “Reliquary for a Remission”, Andres creates shadowboxes and sacred talismans that invoke the spectacle of illness and our need for superstition and faith in times of darkness. Andres’ digital prints take a closer look at the materials in her everyday life: a tangle of hair, the fiber of a hospital robe, cancerous cells—all magnified with an electron microscope and abstracted into magnificent patterns.

They rewrite their internal organs: Ritvo’s poems figure new physiological mechanisms for emotions. They restructure argument and conversation: Ritvo’s performance art troupe His Majesty the Baby makes maddening havoc and hilarious sense in their dizzying, cerebral, fast-paced sketches and performance dance pieces. As a testament to their synthesis from children of light to children of the depths, Andres and Ritvo ingest oral chemotherapy in a Chemo Communion ceremony, symbolically uniting them with the poison that has given their bodies extended life, and death."