groupshow curated by Le Syndicat Magnifique
from February to May 2019
at La Villa du Parc, Annemasse (FR)
with Cédric Esturillo, Julie Grosche, Jade Gordon & Megan Whitmarsh, Anne-Sarah Huet, Carin Klonowski, Lou Masduraud, Shana Moulton, MSHR, Tabita Rezaire and Adam Ulbert. With the participation of Tom Dongo.
The city of Sedona (AZ) lies coiled between the canyons of the Sonora Desert and its seemingly boundless vistas. First painted, then photographed and filmed, the red reliefs of the American West now form a visual imagery broadcast worldwide. In the 1940s, Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning settled in Sedona. There, Tanning painted some of her best-known works, while Ernst created his colossal totem-sculpture Capricorn, which he positioned in front of the open landscape. The two surrealist artists were the forerunners of a mystical exodus that transformed the town into a touristic spiritual complex. Second only to the Grand Canyon in terms of popularity, Sedona draws roughly three million visitors per year.
Sedona is home to a peculiar syncretism, which merges a wide range of beliefs: from indigenous legends calling it the mythical place of world creation to the discovery of energy vortexes in its canyons, or its proximity to Area 51. As its attractions multiplied over the years, they supported the development of a solid local economy based on spiritual quest. By the early 1980s, the city was regarded as the American capital of the New Age. The various trends found in New Age precepts prefigured the contemporary obsession with wellness and self-regulation. By spreading practices of self-representation and a productivist management of body and mind, the New Age approach participated in the establishment of a capitalist injunction, currently echoing through social networks and digital technologies, namely: BE YOUR BEST SELF.
The show offers a tour through immersive sensorial installations that conjure mythologies of West American landscapes along with the spiritual quest of Sedona’s pilgrims (the geological sci-fi sculptures of Cédric Esturillo, the Thalassa II series by Adam Ulbert, or the performance-video of Julie Grosche). Sound, video, or olfactory installations offer visitors the chance to experience New Age practices and their contradictions, whether in spaces of relaxation (Lou Masduraud’s Active Substances fountain and Carin Klonowski’s TLCD performance) and personal development (MSHR’s meditation maze), or their consumerist by-products (Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh’s spiritual coaching tutorials) and digital transformations (Tabita Rezaire’s video titled Hoetep Blessing). At the centre of the exhibition stands Shana Moulton’s discreet work, which functions as a mantra within the Villa’s space. Both start and end points of the exhibition, After Messiaen serves as a repository for a tongue-in-cheek art that is both comical and critical. Steeped in Californian spirituality and an internet aesthetic, Shana Moulton acts as a guardian figure – Oh mother!