This Artist Launched a Gallery Space in Washington to Honor the Notion of Impermanence
Founded by Rodrigo Etcheto, Everything is Full of Gods Gallery features new and emerging photography with a "timeless" feel.
Rodrigo Etcheto, a photographer based in the Pacific Northwest, doesn’t believe in permanence. It’s a philosophy that informs everything he does, from his conceptual landscape photographs to his philosophical writing. And now he’s bringing that viewpoint to another stage—a newfangled gallery for contemporary photography.
Earlier this year, Etcheto launched Everything Is Full of Gods Gallery, a transitory pop-up exhibition space in his hometown of Olympia, Washington. With a shifting brick-and-mortar component, an online exhibition platform, and a print store, the gallery will feature work by up-and-coming photographers—with a particular emphasis on nature and the Northwestern US.
The gallery is located now in a storefront space in Olympia’s historic district—a space it will continue to occupy for at least a year (when the current lease is up). Its inaugural show features photographs by Etcheto himself—an exhibition of black and white landscapes titled “Everything Flows.” These works are indicative of the artist’s practice as a whole: He shoots exclusively in black and white, preferring the “timelessness” of its aesthetic, and focuses largely on natural elements in a state of change—a mist alighting on a hill of trees, perhaps, or the jagged teeth of a waterfall; the marbled surface of rocky riverbed or a young tree growing from the trunk of befallen one.
“I try to show how everything is, in some sense, alive and changing,” Etcheto tells artnet News. “That’s why all my work has some moving element in it. To me, those are the symbols of change. I go out almost entirely when it’s stormy—every minute is a totally different scene.”
Etcheto came to photography later in life and did so through a rather unusual avenue: philosophy.
After graduating from college, he was, like many recent grads, feeling aimless. A longtime student of philosophy (stoicism, in particular, the dominant school of thought of the Romans), he sought to write a book about how we should live our lives—a topic perfectly suited to the hallmark mixture of naivety and ambition that young post-grads offer in spades. Yet Etcheto took it on, and—eventually—finished it. Though it took longer than expected.
In thinking about the ideas of the book, and nature in particular, Etcheto would often take long, contemplative hikes in the forests of his home state, Washington. He started taking his camera along as well, interested as he was in the relationship between pictures and the ideas with which he was grappling.
“I would take a lot of long hikes, just to be out in nature and be able to think clearly, without distraction. I would go up the mountains and along the coast. The more I hiked and explored, the more I started shooting. I found that there were certain concepts that you can really emphasize more and illustrate more with imagery. Especially elusive concepts like geologic change and the flow of time—those are ideas that photography captures well.”
The book took nearly 20 years to complete. He wrote and rewrote it a number of times, scrapping old versions as his view of the world shifted with age. Looking back, that was to be expected. Yet, the book’s unsettledness also echoes the thoughts Etcheto espouses in its pages: the belief that all matter is alive, and therefore in a constant state of flux. Nothing is static or permanent.
It’s where the name of the book—and, eventually, the gallery—came from. It’s from an Aristotle quote: “Some think that the soul pervades the whole universe, whence perhaps came Thales’s view that everything is full of gods.”
It makes sense, then, that model for his gallery would embody these characteristics too. Like the natural phenomena Echeto photographs, Everything is Full of Gods will have the capacity to adapt and change with the people that occupy it.
“I never try and think anything is permanent,” the artist says. “What does it matter if something is there for a year or five years? It’s all relative. Especially when it comes to something like a gallery—the way that technology is changing so rapidly, changing the markets, you’re going to have to be changing all the time in order to make it. I just assume that going in.”
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