Eco-existences: forms of the natural and the artificial October 27 2022

Text: Carmen Ferreira | Photo: Esteban Terenzio

Eco-existences: forms of the natural and the artificial, is a collective exhibition that investigates the relations between natural and artificial spaces, and how they are perceived and experienced by communities. Through the works of seven artists Leone ContiniSimone DonatiClaudia LosiElena MazziElena NemkovaCaterina Sbrana and Nicola Toffolini we enter an open-ended territory enabling us to see past divisions between human and nature. With the rapid development of technology, production processes, and social systems, the barriers between natural and artificial have become increasingly permeable and complex.

The exhibition uses the languages of culture, anthropology, science and narrative to expand our understanding of a reality that is still in the process of being defined and triggers a reflection on the now outdated contrast between man and nature. The exploration of the natural and artificial offers a framework to understand the myriad of ways that these two entities clash and balance with one another. From this perspective, we can envision a new reality in which an eco-existence could form.

The project is based on an exhibition produced on the premises of the IED Firenze and it extends, through a rich schedule of events, lectures and workshops for the public, into a number of venues in the city and into Palazzo Strozzi’s workshops. 

20 October – 7 December, 2022 | IED Firenze | Florence, Italy


Claudia Losi exhibits a series of ten embroidered canvases made in 2007 in the United Arab Emirates, commissioned by the Sharjah Biennial 8, where the organic and mineral origins of oil and its derivatives are reconstructed, retracing the fossil time to which they belong, thus inserting themselves into the research that the artist carries out around the natural processes that influence the economic, political and environmental spheres.


Caterina Sbrana shows two canvases and a bas-relief formed by pressing fresh poppies, collected during the flowering season, onto the canvases. This turns into maps of the third urban landscape and explores the relationship between the countryside and the city. This practice is a ritual gesture that follows the rhythms of nature and at the same time an investigation of the imaginary dedicated to urban and suburban fallow areas between lost geography and new possibilities.


Nicola Toffolini offers three detailed and intricate drawings demonstrating examples of convergences between artificial creations and natural processes in a changing world. The asteroid coming into contact with a landmass becomes a symbolic representation of today's anxieties.



Elena Nemkova exhibits a series of three mural relief sculptures that explore the dichotomy between natural and artificial by incorporating both organic and plastic 3D printed elements. The bas-reliefs suggest a look that descends to the geological section thus becoming a witness to the continuous evolution of nature and our action on it.The concept of landscape today includes the historical, political and social processes encrypted in it. Human activity will exist only in our memory and will be recorded in the geological stratifications. 


Simone Donati presents a series of photographs, the result of a four-year research on the Italian Southern Apennines, exploring its natural elements, its inhabitants and their stories. He investigates the relationship the people have with their heritage and the attraction between them and the harsh and hostile landscape they have chose to live.


Elena Mazzi shows a mockumentary in which an alternative Silk Road to the historical one is presented, proposing a new northern trade route connecting China and Northern Europe. Involving people active in different fields who contributed to the development of the project, the work analyses the complex intertwining of ecology, economics, geopolitics and mobility within the Arctic regions.


Leone Contini starts with the exploration of incongruent landscapes and ecosystems around Florence. Contini has created a site-specific installation, featuring a short film, original drawings, and samples of natural life collected during the fieldwork in the area. The film, mounted in the middle of an illustrative map of the Arno river basin, creates a parallelism between the socio-political contexts of the city and the ecological life and natural environment.