SCREAMING BIRD, SINGING DAWN, RAINBOW MOUNTAIN (2020)
BALTIC 39, Newcastle, UK 24/01/2020 - 26/04/2020
Commissioned by Irene Aristizábal (Head of Curatorial and Public Practice) and Emma Dean (Curator) for BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art.
SCREAMING BIRD, SINGING DAWN, RAINBOW MOUNTAIN (2020) features wandering first person shots which navigate South Korea's liminal estuaries, ancient temples, nebulous markets and the glowing towers of the inner city, punctuated by interviews with Mudang, Monks and Astrologers. Through the imagery of the environments it navigates and the embodiment of its searching auto-ethnographic perspective, the film essay’s narrative voice-over unfolds through reflective commentary. Positing improvised philosophical and comparative religious notions in an open modelling of spiritual ecosystems and modes of being, to encounter synchronous moments of magic as transformation.
Divided into chapters, the film considers intersections between Korean shamanism, Buddhism, Christianity and capitalism. Interviews with mudang (shaman), monks and astrologers provide insights into alternative knowledges, which are passed down through generations. The film’s narrative also discusses broader ideas around states of consciousness, types of embodiment and the notions of ‘Cosmogenesis’ (the origin and development of the cosmos), through the exploration of creation myths and their associated belief systems.
The exhibition centred around the film essay, SCREAMING BIRD, SINGING DAWN, RAINBOW MOUNTAIN (2020), commissioned by BALTIC. Developed during a two-month cultural exchange residency at the Hongti Art Center in Busan, South Korea in 2018,
The film was presented on four screens, arranged according to the cardinal directions of the compass: east, south, west, north; their associated seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter and their corresponding magical agencies: conceiving, creating, reflecting, accepting. These directions, periods and agencies populate the processional nature of transformation extant in the metaphysics that underpin the realities expressed through the mythologies and devotional practices of myriad cultural and religious perspectives. The pyramidal seating arrangement was etched with a diagram I developed, based on my non denominational magical system for transformation, also expressed in the large banners on the wall and floor.
As part of the installation there were a series of 36 shelves displaying ‘Alchemical Ghost Food’ (2020); inspired by rituals where food and drink are laid out as offerings to nourish or venerate ancestors, ghosts, spirits and gods. The 36 totemic sculptures were offerings of aesthetic sustenance to dead artists that acted as subjective mirrors; reflecting the audiences associative cognition, activating their likes, dislikes and memories, revealing the meaning making of their mentation. The arrangements strobe between the familiar and uncanny, creating transformative opportunities for non-understanding as non-denominational veneration, existing somewhere between dream food and alchemical equipment.
There were also two handmade ritual costumes on display; The first 'Ancestral Armour' (2019) was made from leather and Horse Brass - ornamental buckles that adorn working horses - symbolically mapping my astrological birth-chart in an act of ancestral veneration in homage to my family of travellers who have been horse traders, undertakers and master craftsmen of travelling caravans. As part of my performance practice I make and wear costumes that serve to illuminate and enact the realities I hope to express. The second "Else Sky Clad Lad' (2019) was made to be worn during a reading that attempted to redress the monopoly materialist rationalism’s metaphysical assumptions currently have over the panoply of extant world-views.