Sympathetic Magic: Video Myths and Rituals

Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
© Courtesy of the Artist and Armory Center for the Arts
© Marnie Weber
"Kempinski", "Tectonic Plates or the Jurisdiction of Shapes" , 2009 Video Still © Neïl Beloufa
Sympathetic Magic: Video Myths and Rituals
Curated by: Catherine Taft

145 N. Raymond Ave.
91103 Pasadena

January 23rd, 2011 - February 28th, 2011
Opening: January 22nd, 2011 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Other (outside areas listed)
Gallery Hours: 12 - 5 pm (Closed Tuesdays)
video, photography, digital, video-art, conceptual
$5 suggested donation. Armory members, students, and seniors are free.


Sympathetic Magic: Video Myths and Rituals, a group exhibition of time based work organized by curator Catherine Taft opens at the Armory Center for the Arts’ main Caldwell  Gallery on Saturday, January 22, 2011, 7 - 9pm. This group exhibition dealing with themes  relating to myth and ritual, will feature works from 1974 through the present by video artists  Neil Beloufa, Nancy Buchanan, Spencer Douglass and Gustavo Herrera, Naotaka Hiro,  Ulysses Jenkins, Aaron Garber-Maikovska, Cynthia Maughan, Nikhil Murthy, Catherine Ross, Marnie Weber, and Bruce and Norman Yonemoto with Mike Kelley.

In anthropology, archeology, and other sciences, the term “sympathetic magic” is used to  describe a belief system in which supernatural powers are ascribed to certain inanimate  objects. In many ways, the video image could be considered a form of sympathetic magic;  within its flickering frame, a parallel world is signified, invoked, and believed. This exhibition  examines modes of storytelling, ritual, everyday magic, and repetition through video art. It  includes works that investigate traditional representations of cultural belief and folklore as  seen in Ulysses Jenkins’ The Nomadics, a piece about the evolution of the African Diaspora  and global parallels within its cultures; Neil Beloufa’s dislocating and other worldly video  Kempinski, which poses questions about the future to Malian people; the Yonemoto brothers  and Mike Kelley’s retelling of the Oedipus myth via the legendary Japanese creature Kappa –  a sexualized trickster known to prey on woman and children; and Nikhil Murthy’s They Ship  the Water in Every Day,, in which characters from an idyllic Garden of Eden meet those from  a postapocalyptic badlands inside a Los Angeles laundromat.

Also explored are more experimental takes on the transcendent side of human experience as  with the performative activities of Aaron Garber-Maikovska, who uses his own body to  strip meaning from the sounds, signs and gestures of human communication; Naotaka Hiro,  who, in his Super 8 film transfers, communes with a skull by packing it with rice in a  ritualistic manner as if to give new life to the form; and Marnie Weber’s video The Campfire  Song in which her rock group, The Spirit Girls, evoke oral tradition though campfire tales  where animals come to life.

Other artists explore aspects of contemporary society through modern day myths drawn from popular culture, i.e. film, television, and print media. In Cynthia Maughan’s short vignettes  from 1974-78, the artist draws from horror films, sci-fi, pulp fiction, and American folklore to  reveal a wickedly dark sense of humor juxtaposed by a pointed feminine subjectivity. Nancy  Buchanan and Catherine Ross take references from television; Buchanan looks at the  narrative structure of a generic action movie plot overlaid with poetic images that connote  various emotions, while Ross edits together clips from 1950s and ‘60s sitcoms (i.e.  Bewitched) where inanimate objects seem to hover and move on their own through the magic  of television. Finally, collaborative duo Spencer Douglass and Gustavo Herrera present an  animated collage and video installation Buffalo Mierda, a dynamic visual mash-up of  newspaper and magazine clippings that create a cultural amalgam that spills out of the video  frame and into the gallery space.


About the Curator:

Catherine Taft is a critic and curator based in Los Angeles. Her essays on contemporary art  and culture appear regularly in publications such as Artforum, Modern Painters, ArtReview,  Metropolis-M, Kaleidoscope, and in exhibition catalogs in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to  her writing, Taft is Curatorial Associate in the Department of Architecture and Contemporary  Art the Getty Research Institute, where she helped organize the 2008 exhibition, California  Video. Among other projects, she is currently working on the exhibition and research initiative  acific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles 1945-1980, a collaboration of more than 50  ultural institutions across Southern California, which will open in October 2011.

The exhibition will open alongside two concurrent installations in the Armory’s Mezzanine  Gallery; The Ruins of Daedalus’ Labyrinth by sculptor Nuttaphol.