Sophie Ko, Metaxu, 2021, step-ladders, gold leaf, earth, grass, flowers, variable dimensions, detail.

Installation view Sophie Ko, Metaxu, 2021, step-ladders, gold leaf, earth, grass, flowers, variable dimensions.

Installation view Sophie Ko, Metaxu, 2021, step-ladders, gold leaf, earth, grass, flowers, variable dimensions.

The Shape of Gold. 9/12 – Sophie Ko

31.08.2021 – 30.09.2021

Metaxu, 2021

step-ladders, gold leaf, earth, grass, flowers

variable dimensions


BUILDINGBOX presents, from August 31st, 2021 to September 30th, 2021, a site-specific work by Sophie Ko (Tbilisi, 1981), the ninth artist of The Shape of Gold, the annual exhibition project curated by Melania Rossi, which investigates the use of gold in contemporary artistic research through the works of twelve artists invited to compete with the chosen theme. The installations are visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the window in via Monte di Pietà 23 in Milan.

The ancient Greek word metaxú is an adverb comprising metá (in the middle, between) and sún (with, together, together with), thus denoting a space that lies between, and connects. The word itself contains two antithetical meanings linked together: on one hand it implies the concepts of distance and separation, while on the other it expresses a drawing near, a connection.

Sophie Ko has chosen it as the title of the installation created especially for the series The Shape of Gold: a heap of old ladders, marked by time and touched by gold leaf, which stretches towards a wall painting made of earth, grass and flowers. The artist presents us with a vertical element that alludes to spiritual ascension, but in actual fact takes us back to where we belong. The last steps of the ladder are golden, as if illuminated by sunlight, reaching to the blend of natural elements in the fresco; an iconic image that connects different planes, hinting at opposites like visible/invisible, spirit/matter, perceptible/intelligible, sky and earth.

The ladder is a place of transit, a link between low and high, a product of human ingenuity that highlights a limit and the attempt to overcome it. It has a strong connection to the Tree of life, the cross symbolizing the Passion of Christ, and the fifteenth Gradual Psalms in the Bible; the ladder is the instrument of the Descent from the Cross and a vehicle of mystical asceticism. The image created by Sophie Ko, while alluding to the corporeal dimension of man, profoundly rooted in the amalgam of earth, air and water we belong to, adds spiritual value to our passage through space and time by using gold, evoking something ancestral, enigmatic, enduring.

In Plato’s philosophy, metaxú is what characterizes the demonic, midway between the immortal and the mortal, connected with the idea of eros, the nature of which remains mysterious in classical philosophy. Eros, the mythological figure who shoots the golden arrows of love, bringing heartache to gods and men alike, represents the tension between opposites but also their reconciliation; conflict and resolution. As Socrates reveals, Love is above all an intermediary – i.e. metaxú – between the folly of the world of the gods, where time does not exist and everything is mixed, and the reason which is the prerogative of human civilization, founded on the principle of non-contradiction.

Sophie Ko’s work unites all these notions in the creative dimension, the “folly” of the human/creator capable of overcoming the space-time boundary while existing within it, through love, dreams and art.