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Sympathetic Magic: Video Myths and Rituals

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 GM, 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 GM, 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.


Press Release

See full press release PDF for more information.



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