New York



Mar 3–Mar 14, 2020

EGO takes the form of a shapeshifting block composed of hair-thin black nylon and handwoven in the Netherlands by DRIFT themselves.

Exhibition Details

Mar 3 – Mar 14, 2020


540 West 25th Street
New York



Above: Photography by Marco Borggreve

Pace Gallery is pleased to present a new exhibition in New York by multi-media artists DRIFT, featuring a single large-scale sculpture titled Ego. The work, taking the form of a shapeshifting block, is composed of hair-thin black nylon and handwoven in the Netherlands by DRIFT themselves. Tailored to the seventh-floor space, Ego will transform the gallery into a thought-provoking environment in constant flux. It will be accompanied by a Pace Live event with musician and singer-songwriter Lee Ranaldo, of Sonic Youth, on Thursday, March 12, at 7PM.

Ego embodies a contradiction: it is at once a man-made rigid block and a pliable living entity. Each corner of the woven block is connected to a motor-pulley system guided by software, allowing the artists to animate and choreograph it as puppeteers. The intricate network of threads collectively rises, falls, expands and contracts, transforming between natural and non-natural states that recall synthetic structures as well as the micro-organisms and material substance that make up all life. As the form softly moves through the air like a spider web in nature, its black nylon threads come together and apart, emerging into and out of vision to create a perceptual phenomenon that reflects the internal structures of things unseen.

The block shape is a motif the artists have explored over the last decade, particularly in works such as their Materialism series—in which they reduced objects, such as a bicycle, down to their distinct materials and arranged them in minimalist compositions—and Drifter (2017)—a large untethered, floating concrete-like cube—which was shown in Pace’s booth at the Armory in 2017. “Looking at the world that surrounds us, only man-made objects can take the shape of a square,” the artists write. “Books, houses, and even excel sheets exemplify our need to divide every little thing into blocks, contrasting with nature. Squares represent control, they are a clear overview of a space and easy to calculate, stack, and understand. They are the ultimate man-made invention.” Here, the block intimates the solidity of a man-made structure before giving way to a changeable organic entity closer to those seen in nature.

Ego was originally developed in co-production with the Dutch Travel Opera house (Nederlandse Reisopera) for Claudio Monteverdi’s Opera L’Orfeo (1608), which premiered in January 2020. The world’s oldest-known opera, it tells the story Orfeo, whose reality unravels at the death of his wife Euridice. DRIFT’s work moved and shifted based on the themes of the play, particularly of Orfeo’s inner state, drawing parallels to the human condition as a whole. Together with director Monique Wagemakers and choreographer Nanine Linning, DRIFT transformed the opera into a technological cutting-edge “Gesamtkunstwerk” or a total work of art.

Studio Drift.jpg


DRIFT was established in 2006 by Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn, who attended the Design Academy Eindhoven together. Their work explores the relationship between nature, technology and mankind through a process involving collaborations with scientists, university departments, research facilities, programmers and engineers. Studio Drift draws their inspiration from nature as a starting point, both in a formal and a philosophical way, while the creative process is fuelled by innovative techniques.

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New York — DRIFT, EGO, Mar 3–Mar 14, 2020