FIELDGATE GALLERY Presents ‘Strangeness and Charm’ At Viktor Wynd Fine Art Inc
featuring Alice Anderson  - Hilary Jack - Liane Lang - Kate MccGwire - Andro Semeiko - Dallas Seit

In an attempt to avoid what Georges Bataille refers to as the “puerility of the present”, some artists have turned to myth and ritual to find meaning in the now. The artists here do this, not through academic historicism, though that is referenced, but instead they look to a territory that falls somewhere between the Gothic and the Surreal. It is a place, which neither relies on the trepidation of the uncanny, nor luxuriates in images of death. Rather, they make images and objects that charm the viewer through the strangeness that lies within the work. This is achieved not merely through the visual devices of scale and incongruity, but also through the re-constitution of myth and its fascination with ritual.

In his essay ‘The Absence of Myth’, Bataille describes a world that seems to have lost its memory of myth as “… the ground that seems so stable beneath my feet, yet gives way without warning.” He continues, “The fact that a universe without myth is the ruin of the universe – reduced to the nothingness of things…”.     How to find depth in this currency of the present without myth, while knowing that empty ritual is mere hysteria, is the dilemma addressed by work in this exhibition.  As Bataille states: “If by abolishing the mythic universe we have lost the universe, the action of a revealing loss is itself connected to the death of myth. And today because myth is dead…we see it more easily than if it were alive: it is the need that perfects the transparency… the absence of myth is also a myth…”.  

It is this search for a form of reconciliation between the determinism of the rational and the play of ritual produced by the irrational, that these artists undertake. Bataille goes on to contrast the profane and sacred as different points of view of the same thing: the profane he aligns with the detached study of science, while the sacred is experiencing its totality, its continuum. In fact, he then continues that the sacred has built-in its own (and therefore our) annihilation. In this respect, it is perhaps no surprise, if not a little ironic, that two of the sub-atomic particles discovered were named strangeness and charm. At times science too understands the need to find expression through the poetic.

While these artists understand that the need for myth is as necessary as myth itself, they also accept that the language lies within the poetic. In that territory of strangeness, the surface of things can regain their depth. However, where Bataille separates myth and the poetic, these artists attempt to reconcile the two. As Magritte observes: “…it the power of enchantment which matters”.

Richard Ducker, 2010                                     Exhibition runs: 4th – 28th Feb 2010

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