RH Gallery is pleased to present 188.8.131.52.0, an exhibition influenced by theMayan long count date marking the end of the 13th Bak’tun cycle, which, according to many scholars, falls on December 23, 2012. The artists included in the exhibition are AES+F, Rina Banerjee, Marcos Castro, Amelie Chabannes, Alex La Cruz, Myla Dalbesio, Tamar Ettun, Micah Ganske, Andrey Klassen, Maria Kozak, Noel Middleton, Dane Patterson, Kristofer Porter, Elaine Reichek, Kirstine Roepstorff, Jean-Pierre Roy, Emily Stoddart, and Matthew Stone.
The Mayans’ extensive studies of the cosmos and planetary cycles underpinned one of the most elaborate calendar systems in human history. Although a significant number of people worldwide envisage the end of this long count cycle as apocalyptic, the Mayans recorded dates in the Classic Period that post-date 2012. Rather than a reckoning, the end of this long count cycle is a cause for celebration and regeneration. RH Gallery is taking this occasion to mount an exhibition exploring notions of apocalypse, rebirth, and temporal cycles.
Various interpretations of the apocalypse are featured in a number of the artists’ works: Kristofer Porter has painted a population of characters that recalls a dark fairytale illustration; Andrey Klassen presents a monumental ink drawing of a dystopian landscape riddled with fire; and Dane Patterson has made ominous photorealist graphite drawings of rooms in states of utter chaos. Inspired by Giovanni Bellini’s Allegoria Sacra, the Russian collective AES+F presents stills from their video of the same name with tribal, religious and ordinary figures imprisoned in a modern day purgatory. Myla Dalbesio’s installation is inspired by the infamous cult Heaven’s Gate whose 39 members committed mass suicide in order to reach the “Next Level” and evacuate the Earth before it was recycled. Micah Ganske presents a recent work in his Tomorrow Land series which depicts toxic landscapes in the United States cast with the shadows of aspirational technology, such as the
Parkes Radio Telescope. Emily Reichek’s embroidery pairs a Biblical text describing frozen waters and the “hoary frost of heaven” with an excerpt from explorer Fridtjof Nansen’s Diaries of the Fram, “…[E]verything so silent, so frighteningly silent, like the great silence that will arrive one day, when the world will once more be desolate and empty”.
Several artists have approached the exhibition with a focus on temporal cycles. In Soak It Up by Alex La Cruz, video footage documents the full moon and the sun in transition with interspersed kaleidoscopic imagery while The Sun follows an American road trip capturing the landscape in altering states of destruction and regeneration. Noel Middleton carved a nine-foot long wood necklace with a sundial for a pendant pointing to notions of ritual and the solar cycle. Emily Stoddart
explores feminine gestures within a series of abstract, multimedia paintings to reflect the transition from a male-dominated period to a female reign as discussed in several texts relating to the Mayan calendar.
Further interpretations have produced assemblages by Kirstine Roepstorff and Rina Banerjee; a sculpture built with photographs of the human body by Matthew Stone; a performance and sculptures by Tamar Ettun related to Yoko Ono’s Cutting Piece; and fantastical depictions of mystical animals and landscapes in Maria Kozak’s and Marcos Castro’s works.
The artists, producing art from nearly every corner of the globe— Russia, Mexico, Israel, Germany, Canada, India and the USA—have approached this exhibition from a multitude of perspectives and employed a diverse range of media including installation, performance, video, sculpture, painting and drawing. Throughout human history, most cultural and religious sects, including the Mayans, have employed artists to illustrate their gospel. This ambitious exhibition attempts to reiterate the
potentiality of artistic production to conceptualize the impenetrable questions of human life.