WOODEN ELSEWHERE, BRAZIL

Region/Concept: Latin America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Disorientation, Immensity, The Labyrinth, The Elsewhere
Description: Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira creates installation of wooden caverns.

Theory: Artificial primordialism; hypothetical exodus; prophetic wilderness. An artist-sculptor takes the debris from splintered wood and restructures its pieces into a vast sequence of coils and turning lairs, the pseudo-site of an uprooted forest. Once wasted particles have now become a continuous network of excess and immensity, the catacomb of some child or savage’s dream (terrifying innocence). The consequence: an assembled geography of enclosures and subterranean halls (the tunnel, the labyrinth, the corridor, the cylinder, the cave); appearance of an untouched world; manipulated sublimity. These arteries are but the collective lie of an origin (only their hollowness is universal). Such is the experience of the radical elsewhere: traveling beneath, within the underpass and the curvature. Such is the experience of spatial bewilderment: where one goes to join the lost, the aimless, and the disoriented.

Link: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/henrique-oliveira-wood-tunnels/

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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VAMPIRIC CHEMISTRY, ROMANIA

Region/Concept: East Europe / Space (Vampiricism)
Sub-Concepts: Dracula, Contamination, Arithmomania
Description: Dracula’s castle goes for sale and inspires speculation on the nature of vampiric force.

Dracula has never been more popular, as numerous TV shows and movies attest. Perhaps that means that he is truly dead, now living posthumously not as the aristocratic undead but as a pastime of bored twenty-first century audiences. Journalists are quick to announce that he is a “fictitious character” (they are not fooled, the fact-checkers). In Transylvania his castle is being sold. (Yes, the castle of Vlad Tepes, the legendary prince upon whose exploits the tale has been based.) It currently belongs to the Habsburg family, former rulers of the Habsburg empire. But let us get our facts straight. Dracula is just a spectacular manifestation of a much older, subterranean force that runs through southeast European tales and the everyday in the 1700s: that of a vampir. It is no coincidence that vampires rose (from the dead) to prominence when the Habsburg empire was at its peak, like a counter-current running from the edge of the empire, spreading disbelief and paranoia. What is more, this vampiric chemistry trickles through centuries, even millennia, both as a political and as an aesthetic force. It always appears as a disturbance at the heart of a “civilization” (Mesopotamian, ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, etc.). Contamination, proliferation. Is there a more revolutionary tactic for a movement? And yet, the greatest terror does not come from the spilling and sucking of blood but from an internal compulsion, a terrible flaw: arithmomania (obsessive need to count actions or objects in one’s surroundings). One can only hope that new owners of the Bran Castle will also get bit (it is the least they deserve), then close the castle to swarming tourists, and count the bags of spilled peas into eternity. A passionate mania is always better than a passionless spectacle.

Link: http://www.businessinsider.com/draculas-castle-costs-80-million-2014-5?op=1

Posted by: Dejan Lukic

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PRIMORDIAL DREAM 3 (THE NIGHT), NEW YORK CITY

Region/Concept: North America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Shadow, Abduction, Omen, Portal, Unpromising World
Description: Photographer Arthur Tress recreates scenes from children’s nightmares.

The Dream of Night: a third ancient obsession of human consciousness (birthplace of the marauder, the highwayman, and the vigilante). Myths of the shadow and of the pitch-black; myths of nothingness and darkening, of night as abductor (that it steals our being), night as omen (that it can be read in signs) and oracle (that it reveals the sacred will), or night as portal (that it provides passage into the deranged, the hidden, and the prohibited). Thus a photographer interrogates the recurring themes of children’s nightmares—some born of sleep and others of sleeplessness, some archetypal and others quite unique to behold—and then situates them as accomplices to its black-and-white recreation. As they consent to a second performance of the terror, we are showered with images of the buried alive, of being chased, of growing roots from one’s hands, of submergence in a house’s rooftop, and of not-right men standing in the woods. And yet all is inviting here (one trembles, yet without anxiety), as each instance takes its place within the larger catalogue of an artist-turned-collector. This leads one to ask the proper term for such an album of young visitations-unto-dread: can one even call this an archive, compendium, anthology, or testimony of some kind? Perhaps no invented word yet for what it means to accumulate the many bad sides of malediction and pretending, those which forebode and warn the viewer of an unpromising world…such that the transition from dusk to evening to midnight goes hand-in-hand with the transition from seamlessness to seduction to awful entrapment. The nocturnal therefore speaks only of the inexistent; and the night always wins.

Link: http://www.boredpanda.com/childrens-nightmares-surreal-photography-dream-collector-arthur-tress/

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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PRIMORDIAL DREAM 2 (THE MONSTER), DENMARK

Region/Concept: Europe, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Fright, Malevolence, Extremity, Otherworldliness
Description: Danish artist John Kenn Mortensen draws images of monsters on post-it notes.

The Dream of Monstrosity: another of the most ancient obsessions of human consciousness (the first villages had their folklore of supernatural creatures threatening from the periphery). Myths of devouring jaws, of nightmarish forms and disproportionate limbs, of evil and miraculous traits. Ecstatic malevolence; diabolical thought; otherworldliness. Thus we descend upon the cellar stairs of our exhilaration before images of fright, paralysis, awe, and deformity. The monster has always represented the excess of human possibility, the visceral ghoulish embodiment of man-gone-too-far. This is why they resemble us in certain key ways (our eyes, our hands), and yet deviate toward horrid states of expansion, magnification, or irradiation (the pupils are too bloodshot, the nails are too long). Still, it is through this hyper-mirror alone that we can envision ourselves as the lost cause, and at the point of no return; for the monster’s face, the monster’s body, is nothing more than the extreme limit of our own mortal intensity (and thus made immortal).

Link: http://www.boredpanda.com/creepy-monsters-sticky-note-drawings-john-kenn-mortensen/

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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PRIMORDIAL DREAM 1 (THE ANIMAL), CHINA

Region/Concept: East Asia, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Movement, Play, Abandonment, Flight
Description: Secretive graffiti artist DALeast leaves massive spray-painted images (mostly of animals) across the walls of global cities.

The Dream of Animality: one of the most ancient obsessions of human consciousness (the first gods were beasts). Myths of flight, of synchronous movement, muscular symmetry, the mastery of horizontal and vertical surfaces, predatory instinct, playfulness and lethal ability. And yet this perfect unity (of intention, design, action, and desire) is attained through an ability to become fragmented (to abandon, shatter, molecularize, decompose, and leave oneself). This is why every child’s tale of entrance into the liberated territories of animality (the forest, the jungle, wonderland) first requires a self-forgetting that breaks apart identity. Only then are the gifts of untamed beings seen in totems and cave paintings—realms of consumption, sensation, roaming, sleep, violence, and endless motion—made available to the human mind/touch. This art-form of postmodern vandalism thus ironically serves to resuscitate a primordial tradition of image-making: visions of flight, curvature, aeriality, and the unbound.

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2392721/DALeast-Breathtaking-work-secretive-Chinese-graffiti-artist-world.html

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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SORCERER’S CLOTH, BOLIVIA

Region/Concept: South America, Body (Costume)
Sub-concepts: Poverty, Healing, Excitation
Description: The popular and the religious collide in the diverse fashion of local healers.

Some days, when the circumstance calls for it, the human being stops being just a human being. The marvelous takes over. Invoking the marvelous simply means being able to astonish (but astonishing the other is not a simple matter). In the hills of Altiplano, colorful figures appear: the color of their garments differentiates them from the surrounding world of nature. For example: the bright red against the light grey of the fog. We see the opulence of masks and dresses in juxtaposition against the bleakness of rooms, the everyday poverty. But it is only here that the word luxury attains proper value, of excess in austerity, a distinctive splendor, and thus brightness, or light. Do not forget: the witch-doctors that wear them and transform into zoomorphic beings are still “doctors”. They heal by opening up the borders, physical and moral, taking one by the hand into the underground tunnels (the mines carved inside the hills). The world becomes paradoxically less differentiated (even though the garments and masks are over-pronounced) and thus horror and excitement ensue. The forbidden is formidable; the deceivers seductive. These basic formulas are so powerful that even after the objects and the garments are fully removed their humming presence remains.

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/23/waska-tatay_n_5611515.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Posted by: Dejan Lukic

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DEATH SIMULATION 2, JAPAN

Region/Concept: East Asia, Myth
Sub-Concepts: The Collector, Summoning, Abuse, Penalty, Infinitesimal Perishing
Description: Samurai stuntman Seizo Fukumoto has acted out approximately 50,000 deaths on screen.

The ultimate process; the undefeated process. One cannot pretend to die so many times without eventually incurring a mortal debt. Death is a ruthless collector; it would not allow its name to be called over and again in false offering. And so it is that this abusive summoning does not go unpunished (the hook remains). Rather, someone must pay the fair price for these playful cinematic depictions of the last breath. This actor knows better than to believe himself unscathed; he realizes (however distant the intuition) that some buried chamber of his being endures the penalty for each terminal scene before the camera. A field within him is burned; a voice within him is strangled; a man within him (a foreigner, stranger, or other, though still most intimate) is executed. No, the theater is not immune to consequence; he was never quite safe there, among the plastic weapons, nor did he make it out uncut or intact. The forces of radical negativity always ensure a certain taxation: each facial grimace, each feigned writhing or manufactured blood-spray, each final groan or pang or exhale, comes with its proper cost. The result: that our stuntman is overtaken by a kind of invisible leprosy—entire regions of Being, housed beneath the organs and the limbs, have been sold into decay and obliteration without notice (fallen away quietly). For his craft demanded that he perish in some silent, infinitesimal place every time he lost his life on screen. Something always weeps, grieves, cries out, goes under (though we never speak of it). The condemned sliver; the harmed particle; the unforgiven actor.

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/aug/12/japan-most-killed-samurai-stuntman-seizo-fukumoto-prize

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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