Aidan Koch’s exhibition Love among the butterflies springs from Margaret Fountaine’s diaries that were published under the same title in 1980. Fountaine (1862–1940) was a Victorian Englishwomen, an intrepid female explorer who travelled the world for nearly 60 years collecting and researching more than 22,000 butterflies. In spite of the Victorian mindset and societal expectations, Fountaine was open to what was new, adapting to any mode of transportation and accommodation and being undaunted by the unaccustomed situations and conditions she encountered on her journey. She was fearless and independent—always in search for the next adventure when travelling extensively through Europe, America, India, China, Tibet, Australia and South Africa. As one of the most prolific Lepidopterists of her time, Fountaine researched many tropical species, never shying away from what was believed to be her duty. She was convinced that a women’s virtue would be an insuperable protective shield, which enabled her to become a woman fully in charge of her desires. Her diaries also reveal that in addition to butterflies, she would collect men. Fountaine wrote about her love affairs and liaisons, disclosing her very modern ideas of relationships. Her greatest passion was independence. She took many risks in life and never stopped learning until the day she died, when she was collecting butterflies in Trinidad.
Aidan Koch’s delicate, humble and enchanting drawings, garments and sculptures take on this idea of transformation and self-discovery. In Love among the butterflies, Koch embarks on a journey to discover evolving versions of oneself by paralleling creatures and examining human relationships just as Fountaine did when questioning ingrained expectations of society. By doing so, Koch creates a world somewhere between reality and fiction in which fragmented narratives, language and imagery elicit self-exploration and prompt the viewer to make the open-ended story their own. The exhibited works function as independent elements and waymarkers without a definite explication or meaning. In fact, the viewer is invited to expand upon and interpret the meaning of the objects in order to embark on an emotional experience and internal conversation. Experience, observation and absolute openness to endless perceptions and possibilities are essential when it comes to Koch’s work, which appears in various forms including sculpture, drawing, comic, painting, textiles, books and ceramics.
Aidan Koch (b. 1988, Seattle, Washington) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA in Illustration from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Her work is currently on view at The Naughton Gallery in Belfast (Ireland). Her published works include The Whale (2010), Xeric Award winner The Blonde Woman (2012) and After Nothing Comes (2016), a collection of zines released between 2008 and 2014. Koch’s work has been exhibited at SIGNAL (Brooklyn), Park View (Los Angeles), Galerie Patrick Seguin (Paris), Weekends (London), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York).