New Media Arts Center
Opening: Wednesday, October 31st, 6:00-9:00pm.
Show runs: October 31st to November 17th.
Cosmogyny: A Wet Fever Dream in 3 Acts
"Cosmogyny is the endlessness of communion and cosmology the incommensurable given form."
It seems as if there has always has been a belief in two worlds, that of the seen and the unseen, of the visible and the invisible, of the known and of the occult. But contrary to the subversive overtones that are used to conceal worlds of experience beyond that of everyday consciousness, occultation simple means “hidden”. It is not, by necessity, a nefarious or otherwise dubious connotation to say that something is simply concealed. Quite the opposite in fact. For those artistic initiates and creative seekers who want to go into realms heretofore unexplored, the term occult alludes to any process that allows something which was previously concealed to be brought out into the light of understanding, or of re-vealation. In this way, occultation is very close to what the esoteric writings of Martin Heidegger called the ontological primordial play of concealing and revealing, or of bringing something "into the light" in two senses, i.e., of things revealed in both the outer and inner worlds of experience.
The notions of cosmoslogy and cosmogyny are also intertwined in a twofold ontological conundrum as well. Afterall, many of the great occult traditions share a singular notion about the "Ontos", which is that of “the sacred marriage”, or of having traits of both the male and the female in oneself as the ground of being prior to any division, be it biological, cultural, etc. Sometimes this “sacred marriage” is called the “transmutation of the elements” in alchemy, the going-under of “dark night of the soul” in psychology, the discovery of “the philosopher's stone” in philosophy, and so many other names throughout the world's many esotic traditions. Cosmoslogy and cosmogyny might also be viewed as one such dichotomy placed somewhere between representing generative and gestational principalities associated with all creative acts. Afterall, both of these "genus" conditions are still being theorized today, without either holding any sense of primacy. Immanence and transcendence as the material tranformation of co-conditioning effects is nothing short of a sign taken for wonders that forms the symbolic investigations of our age.
In other words, the fusion of opposites which is often characterized as the "supreme occulted truth", or really as an occulted axiom that aims to overcome the originary division of forms, is itself, something that is paraded around as the highest grade of the mason, the guru, the magnus, and the master who has "attained" the deepest non-dual insights. But today, science is after the truth of what made brought the universe into being before dualism as well. By contrast with these ritual and material practices, we can say that all outward, exteriorized, or reified dogmatic truths focus on the opposite goal, i.e., that of heightening the antagonism of identifications associated with good and evil, light and dark, and difference as-such. This is what caused both Nietzsche and Crowley to condemn modern reigion as the birthplace of the "herd morality", "reactive consciousness" and the inversion of life affirming values.
But where is this most obviously on display in our culture today? Sadly, it is in the larger than life mythos created by misogyny, for which Cosmogyny could offer a much needed corrective. Even our modern religions still seem to miss these rather obvious exclusions and hierarchies in having created a series of godheads who are often absent any female counterpart, be it Yaweh, Allah, Buddha, etc., and by proxy, they also lack any gestative element in their allegories of creation. This makes them all-or-nothing religions, or "all is One" belief systems without any remainder, suppliment, etc. The ancients however, rarely made this same mistake. They tried to keep extreme misogyny somewhat separate from cosmology. In fact, in many of the pre-modern traditions the gods tended to be many, plural, and even diverse in their interests within the same religious cosmology.
The strange parallel here with the rise of modern art and modern monotheism is that both became essentialist, acting in a neo-fudamentalist manner by eliminating everything but “the truth to materials” and the “truth of the text”; the rhetoric of “purity” and the rhetorical devices of conversion; the teleological drive toward flatness and the flattening out of all the gods into the one “Father who art in heaven...". Of course, Freud had already noted this tendency in his book Moses and Monotheism, which is to say that creative story-telling has underwrit the whole of modern culture, religion included. Consequently, the notion of Cosmogyny as a corrective is aimed at upsetting forms of absolutism in rethinking the supposed place of the “Father who art in heaven..." with "the Father who Art..." acting as a rather malignant cultural meme of self-sufficientcy in being a vision unto-himself, for-himself, and by-himself for all eternity. In other words, monotheism is both a postulated absudity and a logical paradox: the creation ex-nihlo of an ultimate being who is then responsible for all creation.
Here it is important to mention that the artists involved in Cosmogyny do not represent the first serious attempt to point out these aesthetico-ethico-religious contradictions. Rather, thier work is informed by an important tradition of sacrilegious contestation that is intimately wed to aesthetic contemplation. Afterall, this twofold tendency of modernism and monotheism to be exclusionary, reactionary and thoroughly fundamantalist is not something that was lost on the many modern artists who recognized that the will toward strict absolutism, cut off from embracing the full spectrum of human experience, is actually the real tragedy of the modern age. It is a symbolic deficeit we are still trying to understand today in so many different ways.
The vast influence of theosophy on everyone from Mondrian to Kandinsky; the “spiritualist” obsessions of the Surrealists; the new age visions of Hilma of Klint and Kandinsky; the darker intimations of artists like Felicien Rops and Austin Osman Spare; and even Josephin Peladan’s Salons of the de la Rose + Croix; all of this circumscribes the origins of the avant-garde not as an advancing perspective, or an obsession with “the new”, but rather, as reclaiming and integrating the past, including the influence of wholly anti-modern tendencies. In other words, art also had it's "sacred marriage" hidden, or occulted, during the rise of modernism. There is and continues to be two modernisms --- a concealed modernism and a revealed one --- or rather, a modernism about advancing "visionaries" and a modernism which is about the play of revealing beyond what the eyes have to offer vision.
In our contmeporary moment however, Cosmogyny picks up where these modern traditions left off, bringing radical aesthetic practices into the 21stcentury through the use of alters, pin-ups, puppets, paintings, plays, appropriations, and projections both real and imaginary. One can see the work in Cosmogyny both as response to our current religious and political pressures as well as an occulted conflict between our illusions of morality and identity. Adopting certian postmodern strategies like parody and pastiche, we can say that a heightened sense of self-awareness informs much of the work in the show, and that humor is often used as a tool of disarmerment in rethinking the ontic-ontological divide of representation.
But where Cosmogyny exceeds and even challenges these postmodern prescendents is in its effort to reclaim the battelground of desire. One could even say that it is romance that forms the crux of the collective project that is Cosmogyny, and which substantiates its varied pictorial cosmologies. The desire for the other, "the Other", the One, Ontos... all of this is stood on its head by the work in Cosmogyny. Instead, dualism, division, and the duplicitious are all made to pay dividens throughout the aesthetico-politico stagings of Cosmogyny as a newly minted vision of Dante's Divine Comedy, albiet, in the form of childern's theater, a detourned video lounge, cheeky characterizations of the art press and much more. It is an exhibition of amor, of the artist's loves, and of endless consumation against the prejudices of consecration.
So please Join us for a night where the theater of existence will be dramatized on the one evening where all of culture takes part in the play of inverted symbolism, inerrant archetypes and irreverent masquerades. Help us celebrate Halloween, that other word which also carries an occulted meaning hidden within it's etymology --- where the supposed “hollowness” of the parade of carnivalesque figurations --- is actually donned in order to let the inner deamon of us all out to play in the world for a bit. Like all forms of festival wherein the unspoken aim is nothing less than letting the Jungian shadow-self mingle with our everyday personas, so too, the opening night of Cosmogyny invites the transmutation of all forms, both the sacred and the profane, the beautiful and abject, high art and mass culture.
Artists in the show: Hannah Irene Walsh, Paige A. Turncliff, Lisa Von Hoffner, Rachel Goodwin, Mario Munguia Jr., Madison Pennisi, Daniel Funkhouser, Mary Williams and more artists TBA.