The Mystical, Scatological, and the Occult
“Any structure of ideas is vulnerable at its margins.” — Mary Douglas
The Mystical, Scatological, and the Occult is an immersive exhibition of film, video, and sculpture. Inspired by anthropologist Mary Douglas’s idea that all margins are imbued with transgressive power, this exhibition explores the liminal territories between the living and the dead, the sexes, and the bodily interior and exterior, as metaphors for the marginal at large.
Participating artists include legendary underground filmmaker George Kuchar, who began his career at the age of twelve “making a transvestite movie on the roof,” for which he was “brutally beaten by [his] mother for having disgraced her and also for soiling her nightgown.” With a sly sense of humor, startlingly raw vision, and celebration of the vulgar, Kuchar’s films and videos embrace subjects ranging from the scatological to the sublime.
Quite different in sensibility, but equally powerful in personal vision, Italian artist Alice Cattaneo transforms simple materials such as paper, toothpicks, tape, thread, and felt into abstracted sculptures and installations that evoke ephemeral and elusive things like “falling hair”, “droplets of blood”, “flames”, “the perfect formula”. Her videos and animations use a similar strategy of simplified action to create a sense of anecdotal metaphor and sparse drama.
Elizabeth DiGiovanni’s videos, sculptures, installations, and drawings evoke the miasma of cultish private spaces. Somewhere between the poster-coated walls of sullen teenagers, and an old decrepit woman’s collection of snow globes and chandeliers, DiGiovanni’s work offers us a glimpse into a very personal construction of fantasy and longing. With an aesthetic that slides between camp and sincerity, DiGiovanni’s work circles around fantastical visions of grandeur and excess.
Michael Decker’s sculptures recreate and abstract objects that unveil or remove one’s subjective pain or trauma—body pillows, massage tools, mortars and pestles. The everyday becomes archetypal, creating narratives that elicit an immediate enjoyment compounded by perplexed wonder. Using an aesthetic of muppetry, Decker's sculpture Emperor's Scroll stages an intimate printing device for rendering the invisible visible. The muppet figure is at once a cultural symbol, an educational device, and a mythical sage. In this conflation, the domestic vernacular of embossed toilet paper becomes a spiritual ground for communicating artistic insight.
Candice Lin’s drawings, animations, and sculptures focus on the blurry and ever-changing boundaries between longing and disturbance, sexuality and violence, history and memory. The allegorical and imaginative characters inhabiting her work—rogue girls, witch doctors, and animalistic gnomes—create a provocative ritual-laden world that is as visually captivating as it is puzzling to understand.
Loren Hartman is a painter, performance installation artist, and short filmmaker whose works often pivot around the construction of identity, with an aesthetic that is informed by vaudeville and folk drama. Phant explores the porous borders between self and non-self in a narrative that is elusively meditative, hauntingly beautiful, and absurdly comical. Kafka-esque in tone, the film traces a psychological, abstract, disintegrating story about a boy who lives in a hole until he dissolves.