I have to admit, I was excited about attending the “End of the World Party” celebrating the kick of the “126.96.36.199.0” group art show at RH Gallery. The pictures of allegorical natives covered in smudge, skeleton paint and animal furs is weird enough to be enticing and yet not totally within the realms of the grotesque. Throw in works depicting the Mayan “End of Times” prophecy just a few days before the magical date and I was racing across Manhattan to see what this group of artists had conjured up. Was it what I expected? Yes, that and more. I came in a disbeliever and left with plastic cup in hand ready to step into a new world.
It was fitting that this opening would celebrate the end of their “Initiation” exhibition and the birth of their “188.8.131.52.0” exposition influenced by the Mayan Long Count Calendar day signaling the end of the 13th “Bak’tun” cycle. The participating artists were asked to create works based on this idea of either rebirth or Armageddon. Overall the entire space successfully embodied both feelings simultaneously. As I floated through the crowd of viewers and listened in on their conversations, I could tell many felt as if they were Alice spellbound in a wonderland of sorts. For some it was a gruesome and hopeless place littered with the destruction of an entire civilization while for others it was an enlightened planet filled with hope and spiritual evolution.
From Crazed Scarecrows to Goddesses
Many noted how well the artwork and performances melded until one could not tell where one began and the other ended. I had to agree on this point during the musical interlude. While I scribbled away in my notepad, I nearly jumped out of my skin when the lead singer (who had moments before stood “cawing” like a scarecrow on stage) now bumped into me as she “flew” throughout the crowd like a bird. I should not have been so surprised as just moments before, spoken word artists Patrick Gantert nearly sent the entire crowd running from the gallery. His “performance” was absolutely mind bending and thought inspiring. Through his sporadic, repetitive “stream of thought” speech and false stutter, he made everyone in attendance nervous. I could not help but smirk at the uncomfortable backward stares of confusion around me.
One man beside me named “Mathaeus” who later called me a Goddess (perhaps he too had sampled the kool-aid) said with mirth, “He’s stuck in his own loop”. When the set completed with the artist uttering “The performance itself is its own content…” the crowd applauded in confusion. I could hear a few thankful sighs as the heightened suspense of an awkward moment relieved itself. Mathaeus was one of the first to track Patrick down and later stopped by to whisper to me “His stutter was an affectation.” He then went on to explain the crowds discomfort, “We like our deformity in the art; not in the person.” Sadly, I had to agree.
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