Facing the Abyss

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© Courtesy of Witzenhausen Gallery - NY
Facing the Abyss
Curated by: Roland Schimmel

547 W 27th Street
Suite 530, 5th floor
New York, NY 10001
September 22nd, 2011 - October 22nd, 2011
Opening: September 22nd, 2011 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

+1 (212) 239 1124
Tuesday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm


The group show Facing the Abyss has as its subject the experience, both sublime and visceral, of looking into the abyss and deciding whether to jump or not... The works in the exhibition embody the intensity and the clarity that come from such a deep and revelatory experience: The ultimate artistic expression that these artists are aiming at, and which they offer to share with the viewer, could only be achieved by plunging into extreme adventures of the mind/body.

The sparkling activity that occurs in our brain when staring at a deep black colour has always fascinated me. The neuro-physiological phenomenon of after-images is a case for study. The dynamics of these strong psychedelic appearances in the mind's eye is overwelming, the fact that they originate spontaneously/involuntarily in a source that is beyond our control, which is nevertheless an inseparable and essential part of us, is miraculous. (After images are also called 'release hallucinations' or 'manifestations of Shiva'.)

The pull-effect of these black-hole-experiences is, in my own experience addictive. It seems to be the condition and only way to get a glimpse of a transformative power: a sudden state of mind in which there is a total and unprejudiced receptivity that makes any fixation, any preconceived idea or conventional habit dissolve. On this level of perception fixed notions of meaning disappear. The psyche begins to function (once more) like a mental blue screen (chroma key): a luminous field of potentialities in which all bits of information are used, changed and remixed according to one's own particular disposition, wit and desire.

The selection of artists in Facing the Abyss covers a wide spectrum of very different attitudes: they signify many possible propositions for personal strategies to deal with the forces of fate. There is the immediate, expressive gesture (Daniel Hesidence), and a feminist, conceptual pop perspective (Lily van der Stokker); there is poetic analysis (Ricci Albenda), and an enigmatic, materialistic sensibility (Rachel Harrison); there is the pagan, spiritual position (Kinke Kooi), and a physiological-mystical inquiry (Roland Schimmel).

The works in this exhibition spin around the pivotal, abyssal experience: they refer to it and take energy from it. A particular combination of masculine and feminine, light and dark forces will not necessarily result in a harmoniously balanced show; rather it will blend into a powerful and mesmerizing elixir beyond any conceptual framework.

Roland Schimmel, August 2011.