Time is one thing we can all agree on to call supernatural. It is at least neither energy nor matter, not dimension either, let alone function; and yet it is the beginning and end of the creation of the world.  – Halldór Laxness, Under the Glacier, 1968

I loved the Joan Jonas exhibition They Come To Us Without a Word at the Venice Biennale 2105, it was a space that encouraged wonder and a dialogue with the spiritual aspects of nature and the rhythms of ritual.

Inspired by the writing of Halldór Laxness she interweaves ghost stories from Novia Scotia with images of a fragile landscape and the enactment of ritual by sombre children.

Glasstress is a collateral event of the Venice Biennale, the theme for 2015 was how the gothic and medievalism has crept into modern consciousness.

1601 Venice glassstress Matt Collishaw

Matt Collishaw Jewel Slot Empire

Invited artists made work referring to ideas ranging across mythology, religion, medicine and alchemy. Flamboyant and emotional, the gothic explored by Petah Coyne’s The Feminine and Mirror Mirror installation.

The Gothic style, born in Europe, was the first international language that spoke across  many nations for at least four centuries.

1601 Venice Glasstress Qiu Zhije

Qiu Zhijie Even More Mythical Animals Are Still On There Way

Today contemporary art has taken on that mantle of communication across borders. The interesting thing is we still ask the same questions and are fascinated by the same metaphysics as we were in medieval times.

1601 Glasstress Kate MccGuire Maelstrom

Kate MccGwire Maelstrom

Performing a ritual out of its designated season is jarring to the senses. Making work that only feels appropriate to bring out at Christmas limits its accessibility. Not really made as Christmas decorations my light boxes ‘Bar of Wonder’ and ‘Bearing Gifts’ do tend to perform that function. It was therefore quite nice for them to have an outing at a Winter Show – Giving curated by Trident and Triangle at Gallery 98 Tower Bridge Road.

1601 Giving

‘Bar of wonder’ places characters from the nativity story into a contemporary Christmas setting, infiltrating a prosaic reality with peripheral and ethereal images that are evoked by the traditions that surround this annual ritual. Is this dated by the number of people outside smoking? A declining ritual.

1601 Bar of Wonder

‘Bearing gifts’ introduces the Magi of the nativity story to the burden of the present day seasonal shopping experience.  Queuing for gifts in Fortnum and Mason.1601 Bearing GiftsSeen through the haze of romantic delusion the figures of the wise men appear as elusive as the purchase of the perfect Christmas.

Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa’s mash up of religion, folklore and conspiracy theories in God’s Reptilian Finger at Gasworks was a step into the world of YouTube paranoia and fantasy. Using similarly cheap inauthentic materials as those used to make the videos that inspire him his polystyrene sculptures are unapologetic colourful embodiments of a wry look at how a belief takes hold and spreads.

1602 Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa 1

Gold painted geometric shapes are full of worms, the progeny of an alien race hidden beneath a shiny veneer. David Icke’s theory of a reptilian race dispersed amongst us gains traction from low resolution video footage of celebrities caught off-guard blinking sideways.

1602 Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa 6

Mormons in need of direction to their own land receive guidance from god’s hand pointing the way amongst the glowing rocks.

The seductive nature of myth and the willingness to believe in absurd fantasies is demonstrated when entering the darkened room at Gasworks to find oneself in the midst of a fluorescent meteorite storm and a giant disembodied finger. Pure joy.

 

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