Lozano’s installation plays with mysticism and ritual, but creates a more sinister altar, in a gallery that becomes a chapel of violent sexual imagery. This place feels far from heaven, glowing under red lights, it appears to be more like a psychedelic interpretation of hell. Raised in devoutly Catholic Mexico, Lozano uses enlarged pornographic photographs, cut out and mounted under Plexiglas to make up the Stations of the Cross. On one wall, grainy portraits of men, many with their mouths open as if receiving communion are lined up methodically with their eyes torn out. Think Saint Teresa in Ecstasy in a horror movie. The bands of paper eyes stare from the opposite wall, creating multiple levels of voyeurism, increasingly complicated by the viewers circulating around the space. The sweltering night I visited everyone was choking on heat and drenched in sweat: fitting for what was happening all over the walls.
Examining traditions of religion, the occult and popular culture in our post-internet culture, Lozano has created a vocabulary of symbols and materials he duplicates in his multimedia work. The Eye in the Hand, or Hamsa, a sign of protection for many cultures, is referenced using gay porn taken from the web and heightened like a spiritual icon. Any sense of protection is lost in the icy fists, cast in various poses and impaled, radiating around a screen that plays a live feed of a wall of eyes, and reflects the backs of its audience. Religion, sex and the occult melt together and the room is no longer commanded by the spectacle, as a mirror below the video forces you to accept yourself as the voyeur. The effect works well overall, but there’s a definite hangover of 80's and 90's aesthetics present. It could be that chaotic nostalgia, of raves and Mass and masturbation, and its influences on identity, that the artist is reflecting upon.
On a final note, Johalla Project’s Director, Anna Cerniglia will present two large-scale installations at Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park this weekend. Matthew Hoffman of the You Are Beautiful Project will make another big statement with “THESE MOMENTS” spelled out in eight-foot wooden letters next to one of the stages. Andrea Jablonski will fill the trees around the VIP area with balloons, including glow-in-the-dark and LED lit ones, creating a sculptural canopy. Both pieces are sure to elicit plenty of instagram photos, in addition to giving some great visuals to the music. See you there!
(Image on top: Ivan Lozano, C— OF THE EYE/C— OF THE HAND, 2012; Courtesy of Johalla Projects)