NEW YORK, NY — We are pleased to present Everyday Magic: Artistic/Gnostic Impulses, a group exhibition that considers how artists and spiritual practitioners use ritual as a catalyst for social change, personal transformation, and alchemy, both metaphysically and corporeally. The exhibition explores the inherent power generated with artistic creation and how ritual allows the artist to claim or reclaim sovereignty. Many of the artists presented identify as spiritualists, whereas others have an awareness of magic and spiritual practices related to their work. For some, ritual is self-invented, made necessary by personal experience.
Everyday Magic encounters a global pandemic and a multitude of crises that have exacerbated social and economic inequities. Through forging artistic bonds, sharing expression, and ritual, we move from isolation to community, seeking safer ways to come together. This exhibition provides an opportunity for the viewer to engage with various interactive rituals on one’s own, creating an individual cathartic experience within a communal dialogue.
We are honored to pay tribute to Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (February 22, 1950 – March 14, 2020) and their trailblazing legacy as a visionary artist, musician, writer, and occultist. In 1993, Genesis met Lady Jaye, then working as a dominatrix, and they fell quickly into an all-consuming love. Genesis and Lady Jaye underwent an extensive body modification project to resemble one another, thus coming to identify themselves as a single pandrogynous being named "Breyer P-Orridge.” There is no greater alchemy than to love so profoundly, to transmorph, to swap features, become each other, and in doing so, become one. Even after Lady Jaye’s death in 2007, their transcendent love broke through the barriers between the living and the dead, both for Genesis and their devotees. Genesis passed away at the beginning of the pandemic after a long battle with cancer. As stated in a 2018 New York Times interview, they lived life to the fullest: “we’ve not squandered it.”
Throughout history, acceptance and practice of magic increases in times of acute societal crises, especially when governments fail to create protective structures. Many turn to ritual and spiritual practices, such as astrology, shamanic healing, goddess worship, and tarot, as a means to attain agency and seek answers. Kay Turner collaborates with Elizabeth Insogna to explore mourning through the lens of ritual goddess worship, focusing on the Ancient Greek myth of the abduction of Persephone. Courtney Alexander, a multimedia artist known for her Dust II Onyx: A Melanated Tarot Deck, presents work from a new self-portrait series reflecting self-reverence and the eternal power of blackness.
Spiritual histories, cultural references, and narratives are prevalent with many of the artists presented. Jaishri Abichandani culls from her cultural history of Hindu art and goddess worship in sculptural form to critique patriarchal tropes and rebirth forms in her feminist language. Alejandro Guzman draws from an array of Caribbean spiritual traditions, materializing inter-spatial, inter-human and even spiritual experiences instigated by chaos, improvisation and ecstasy in his interdisciplinary works. Sahana Ramakrishnan’s richly painted mythologies mix Asian, African, and European references to conjure magic, prioritizing spiritual and emotional connection. Qinza Najm challenges Islamophobia and examines the uneven burden of norms and laws which govern women’s bodies. Here, Najm shares rituals for healing, emotional regulation and survival, which have helped her negotiate our current social isolation.
Everyday Magic presents artists who deconstruct natural elements. Lina Puerta’s "Botánicos" examine the tension inherent in the human attempt of hegemony over the natural world by consecrating space with site-specific interventions mixing organic and synthetic materials. Tamara Kostianovsky crafted a series of sculpted tree stumps from her deceased father’s clothing, repurposing the material through the transformative experience of mourning. Central to Alexis Karl’s interactive ritual altar exploring death’s transformative power is a human skull sprouting new life with an explosive outcropping of natural jade formations.
The exhibition reimagines the human body as a vessel for magical potential. Painter Clarity Haynes transforms commanding human torsos, into altar spaces upon which charged objects such as mementos and amulets are placed. Micki Pellerano’s esoteric drawings capture the mystical potential of our human form. Aaron Johnson’s fluid portraits evoke spirits only to be reached from a dream state, while Staver Klitgaard’s visceral figurative paintings, rife with mythological references, remind of the primordial human need for bodily contact, indulging the wild witch within. Rebecca Goyette’s symbolic goddess portraits contemplate our collective matrilineage, while Clarina Bezzola’s surrealist ceramic busts explore the fiercest facets of the divine feminine.
Abstract mark-making, sigils and talismans express our primal desire to shape our own destinies. Jesse Bransford’s diagrammatic drawings relate to belief and visual systems including Tantric practices and the folk magic of the Norse traditions, specifically the talismanic stave spells and the seiðr traditions. João Salomão infuses his understanding of graffiti’s graphic marks and varied spiritual lineages, including Afro-Brazilian Yoruba, the I Ching, and Buddhism, into works that communicate the metaphysical in a universal abstract visual language.
Contemplative collecting, arranging and juxtaposing objects is intrinsic to ritual. L. creates giant spell jars, suspending everyday objects in viscous fluids, each with a specific magical intention. Trish Tillman’s meticulously crafted sculptural wall pieces serve as healing talismans to contain and transmute painful secrets, while Kenya (Robinson) injects a wry sense of humor and a white supremacy-busting power punch with each of her talismans.
Artists include: Jaishri Abichandani, Courtney Alexander, Clarina Bezzola, Jesse Bransford, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Rebecca Goyette, Alejandro Guzmán, Clarity Haynes, Elizabeth Insogna, Aaron Johnson, Alexis Karl, Staver Klitgaard, Tamara Kostianovsky, L., Qinza Najm, Micki Pellerano, Lina Puerta, Sahana Ramakrishnan, Kenya (Robinson), João Salomão, Trish Tillman, and Kay Turner.
Curated by: Jenny Mushkin Goldman and Rebecca Goyette
For inquiries, contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rebecca at email@example.com
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge with Lady Jaye
Alchymical Wedding (study), 1997-2012
Hot-rolled steel frame, hand blown glass, cork, hair, nails, skin
11.5" x 14" x 11.5"
Courtesy of New Discretions