Rewilding and Enchanting


Artists: Cristina Ochoa, Natasha Papadopoulou, Lyubov Matyunina
Curator: Masha Domracheva
Visual identity: Austin Redman

Opening  Saturday 11 May, 17 – 22 hrs
at PAKT Foundation (Zeeburgerpad 53, Amsterdam)
12 May – 2 June, Thu – Sun 13 – 18 hrs



Centuries of witch-hunts in Europe and Colonial America have affected female and Indigenous knowledge preservation, distribution, and representation across the globe. For many years, practices originating in long-term reciprocal relationships with nature and based on a view of the land and water as gifts that must be cared for over generations have been suppressed.

Capitalist modernity in Europe, with its Colonisation and Christianisation of other parts of the world, disintegrated these symbolic relations, alienating humans from nature and each other. Starting with the dispossession of the commons, capitalism was supposed to turn bodies into machines, and land — into industrial sites of resource extraction. In her book Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici argues that ancient animistic belief systems that gave spiritual agency to the natural world were dangerous for this new order:

Aiming at controlling nature, the capitalist organization of work must refuse the unpredictability implicit in the practice of magic, and the possibility of establishing a privileged relation with the natural elements as well as the belief in the existence of powers available only to particular individuals, and thus not easily generalized and exploitable… Though the witch-hunt targeted a broad variety of female practices, it was above all in this capacity — as sorcerers, healers, performers of incantations and divinations — that women were persecuted. For their claim to magical power undermined the power of the authorities and the state, giving confidence to the poor in their ability to manipulate the natural and social environment and possibly subvert the constituted order (1).

So female wisdom and practice had to be eliminated and made abominable in the eyes of the population. Women’s bodies, their domestic labor as well as their sexual and reproductive powers have become the main targets for the accumulation of wealth.

Observing the growth of capitalism with its accelerating mechanization of the spirit at the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th century, French philosopher Henri Bergson opposes the mechanical order to the vital one and considers rapid technological development to be a source of war. He starts advocating the need for society to come back to what he calls a mystic life.

Our understanding of technological development after a century confirms his warning as we see how it has advanced warfare, destroyed entire ecosystems, and exhausted the exploited majority of humans. Capitalist colonial logic now extends to the cosmos, which is being seen as a new territory for settlements as opposed to the precapitalist animistic conception of nature, that did not admit to any separation between matter and spirit, and thus imagined the cosmos as a living organism, populated by occult forces, where every element was in ‘sympathetic’ relation with the rest (2).

Contemporary philosopher of technology Yuk Hui continues Bergson’s thoughts on the importance of mysticism, situating them in our current reality. He claims that mystic life can help resist globalization and return to bio, noo, and technodiversity: mystic life diversifies because there is no single mystic life (3). Following Bergson, Yuk Hui believes that mystic life attempts to spiritualize machines and reject consumerism. However, he seems to be missing ideas of another follower of Bergson’s philosophy of vitalism — Wilhelm Reich, who in his 1949 book Ether, God and Devil & Cosmic Superimposition denies mechanical-mystical dualism:

Both the mechanic and the mystic stand inside the limits and conceptual laws of a civilization which is ruled by a contradictory and murderous mixture of machines and gods… Orgonomic functionalism stands outside the framework of mechanistic-mystical civilization… [It] represents the way of thinking of the individual who is unarmored and therefore in contact with nature inside and outside himself… Orgonomic functionalism is the vital expression of the unarmored human animal, his tool for comprehending nature… Unarmored life does not look for a meaning or purpose for its existence, for the simple reason that it functions spontaneously, meaningfully, and purposefully (4).

Rewilding and enchanting exhibition project seeks to reclaim the animistic perception of nature and rediscover the diversity of world cosmologies, trying to escape the dualism of humans and nature, feminine and masculine, rational and spiritual, mythology and technology.

It will unite three female artists with more than 15 years of artistic practices that resurrect Indigenous and female knowledge: Cristina Ochoa (1976, Colombia), Natasha Papadopoulou (1975, Greece), and Lyubov Matyunina (Russia, 1985). Together they will create a space for enchantment and healing of the human body, mind, and spirit.

In their installations, artists will pay tribute to their ancestors’ beliefs and spiritual practices, as well as non-dominant philosophies of the 20th century, leaving behind traces of magical presence in the space. Over the weekends, they will engage the audience in the collective process through performative activations.

Taking inspiration from the goddess of Earth and purification in Aztec mythology, Cristina will explore the idea of compost as a way to see all organisms as a part of nature. She will conduct a ritual of Tlazolteotl invocation inviting the audience to bring offerings and engage with soil and plants brought from Mexico.

Natasha will construct a costume installed on a suspension inverter, inspired by Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone accumulator, where organic (cotton and wood) and inorganic materials (metal) are multiplied to harvest and contain the omnipresent Orgone energy — an alchemical fundamental that communicates with the human structure on a cellular level, relatable to the Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Prana in the Vedic tradition, and Aether in the early scientific alchemical world.

And Lyubov will guide visitors through her real-size board game installation which collects 11 archetypes from world mythologies and folktales. The game’s narrative is based on the framework of the heroine’s journey — developed by Maureen Murdock in response to Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. Unlike a hero’s quest, which is directed outwards, the heroine’s quest is introspective, one of moving deeply into the self instead of conquering the world. Participants will be invited to engage their intuition and interpret the meanings of the archetypes they encounter. 11 cells in the installation will offer space for reflection on encountered archetypes, with guided meditations facilitating mythological thinking about the world and oneself.


(1) Silvia Federici. Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation. Brooklyn, New York: Autonomedia, 2004. P. 174
(2) Idem. P 141-142
(3) Yuk Hui. YouTube video of the lecture War and Machine given within the II edition of Biennale Warszawa. 44:20 (
(4) Wilhelm Reich. Selected Writings: An Introduction to Orgonomy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973