Reevaluating our rituals
Work from nearly a dozen artists from Los Angeles and abroad is on display at the Prichard Art Gallery through Sept. 29. The multimedia “Synthetic Ritual” exhibit promises rewards for those who take time to consider it deeply.
Prichard Director Roger Rowley said the exhibit features pieces compiled from the same exhibit at Pitzer College, some of which were procured from Pitzer Art Galleries and others directly from the artists.
Mediums from fabric to film, photography and fiberglass sculpture will provide an exploration of the meanings of ritual that builds on itself, Rowley said. Marcos Rios’ “Untitled (The Weeping Video),” a “cinemaglyph” image with audio and moving parts, will lead folks into the exhibit.
“You hear the sound, you then connect the sound with the image and then you have (photography) that’s maybe a more traditional type of experience, but that sort of sets you up to then go
in and explore a lot of different types of imagery,” he said.
Rowley said fabric displays with African appliqué traditions play with cultural references like newspapers and religion. A video series documents a ritual of men from different religious, political and socioeconomic backgrounds in Beirut, Lebanon, in which they regularly meet to swim in the Mediterranean Sea. Rowley said this isn’t unlike people meeting on campus to swim at the University of Idaho Swim Center.
“It’s reevaluating the importance of those kinds of activities in our lives,” he said.
Rowley said there was a time when rituals were more deeply understood as part of our culture, group identity and dynamic.
“Some of those things have broken down,” he said.
Rather than losing significance, he said rituals have assumed different forms and concepts.
The exhibit features pieces that may seem strange or silly, he said, but those who view
the artwork fully will gain the greatest benefit. This is particularly true of the videos with headsets that enable full immersion.
“So I think this show really does require someone to pay time and attention,” he said. “If you’re willing to take that next step … you will be rewarded. And you won’t see anything like this for hundreds and hundreds of miles — no one will be showing these kinds of works.”
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Matt Maw can be reached at email@example.com