I am loving this grotto series by Katerina Lanfranco. I can't resist those murky pastels, and that clever and the circling-the-square border. A bit of beauty on a Friday.
Fulgur is currently experiencing a glorious renaissance, with two esoteric tomes hot off the press and another two announced. As some readers know, I have collaborated with them on various projects including Abraxas Journal, and I'm happy to say that I've recently stepped into a General Editor role there. That said, I can take zero credit for any of the below, as they are all projects overseen by the masterful Founder and Managing Director, Robert Ansell.
So onto the books.
First up is Michael Bertiaux' massive monograph, Ontological Graffiti:
Ontological Graffiti is Michael Bertiaux’s magnum opus. More than 40 years in development and a decade in production, this work now stands at over 470 pages and is without doubt his most substantial and important book yet.
Ontological Graffiti provides for us a vibrant vudutronic, spiritualist, art-grimoire. It presents the strange narrative of certain magical work conducted at the infamous ‘Hyde Park Lodge’ in Chicago during the period 1965-1975. The lodge was a ‘ritual collective of occult initiates’ who would meet monthly under the directorship of Dr. Hector-Francois Jean Main.
Ontological Graffiti contains the séances, lecture notes and descriptive texts for this intense period. This material accompanies the series of large acrylic magical paintings produced by Bertiaux, who was assigned to capture through his art the messages and images of various ‘transcendental consciousnesses’ which manifested during the course of their workings. The Lodge later discovered that rituals conducted using these paintings deepened the connection with the spirits, Loa, and ‘Other Minds’. In addition, the book also offers the reader countless drawings, collages and ‘passeports for contacting and travelling within the spirit realms.’
And a gobsmacking deluxe edition was just announced this week.
Next is the 2nd volume of Black Mirror, a journal that examines the connection nodes between art and ritual. The theme of this book is Embodiment, and it features writings by such luminaries as Susan L. Aberth, Natan Alexander, and Deanna Petherbridge:
Black Mirror is a peer-reviewed series that seeks to examine ways in which the occult and the esoteric have been at the heart of art practice now and throughout the modernist period. It is produced by a group of artists and researchers and much of the work examined will be practice-led. Hence this volume includes both essays on contemporary and modernist work, and new works by artists. Black Mirror 1 – embodiment is the second installation within the Black Mirror series of publications.
In this volume we explore the philosophy and practice of embodiment. Throughout the twentieth century both occult practitioners and artists explored the effects of the patriarchal monotheistic heritage that divorced the mind from the body, privileging the intellect as spiritual and negating and subjugating the corporeal. The conjunction of heterodox spiritualities, feminism and green philosophies in the 1980s gave rise to art and thinking that sought to heal the split between mind and body, to find new respect for the body and the physical world, and to explore the spiritual through the corporeal. Mindful of these early pioneers, in this volume we seek to broaden ideas surrounding magic, art and embodiment.
Volume 1 – embodiment
Introduction, Judith Noble, Dominic Shepherd and Jesse Bransford
Ingestion and Descent: The Chthonic Realms of Leonora Carrington, Susan L. Aberth
The Dark Mark: Tattoo as Ritual of Transformation, Natan Alexander
The Empress, 2015 Lindsey Bull
Self-Obliteration through Self-Love, David Burrows
The Sitters, Tom Butler
Etruscan Monochromes, Gean Moreno
Transformation of the Everyday Material Magic in Jan Švankmajer’s Art and Films, Kristoffer Noheden
Le Bal: Bewitching the Classical Body, Katerina Pantelides
Abject Bodies and Places of Enchantment, Deanna Petherbridge
Embodying the Androgyne: Psychoanalysis and Alchemical Desire in Max Ernst’s Men Shall Know Nothing of This (1923), Daniel Zamani
Available for pre-order is a Under the Eye: A Brief History of Fulgur, in honor of the publishing house's 25th anniversary:
On August 9th, 1992, FULGUR was born. Our founding principles were simple; to revive and develop Aleister Crowley’s philosophy of the book as a talismanic object; to champion quality and longevity in book design, and moreover, to celebrate and promote magical artists such as Austin Osman Spare. In the early days, some of these ideas were very much against the occult zeitgeist, which was often pre-occupied with the fast and cheap dissemination of information. Our first decade was consequently something of a struggle, but over time support began to grow and the founding principles took root. Today, the idea that the book itself can be an expression of magical intent has found a new generation of enthusiasts.
To celebrate our birthday this book briefly discusses the strange circumstances surrounding the formation of the company, offers context for our development, and provides a full bibliography of our titles from 1992-2012. With rare photographs and anecdotes, this is sure to be an essential companion for those interested in the contemporary revival in occult publishing.
Introduction – Clive Harper
Prolegomena – Gavin Semple
Preface – Robert Ansell
Astropoeia – Austin Coppick.
The Witches’ Sabbath. A Publisher’s Precis – Ansell (1992).
The Valley of Fear. Transcript of launch night speech, London (Ansell, 2008).
Vudu Cartography. Transcript of launch night speech, Chicago (Bertiaux, 2010).
Making the Book Talismanic. An Interview with BoingBoing (Ansell, 2012).
And finally, I am levitating with excitement about the forthcoming Decad of Intelligence by undersung artist mage, Ithell Colquhoun:
The Decad of Intelligence is an important and poetic work that Colquhoun developed in the 1970s. It is based on the list of sephirotic intelligences set out in the Sepher Yetzirah. Originally, it was conceived to be a small book of ten enamel pieces, each depicting a different sephira and accompanied by a description of their properties. Colquhoun intended this work to be used as a guide to contemplation for understanding the deep nature of each of the sephiroth, both in isolation and in completeness. Working with the National Trust, the Tate and the Estate of Ithell Colquhoun, we have reunited these individual elements to reform the work as the artist originally envisaged it.
All of these details and more can be found on the Fulgur site here. What a wonderful way to kick of the new year!
Adam Dix "Coven" 2013
Happy New Year, Phantasmaphiles. 2016 was an intense one: so much heartbreak, but so much beauty as well. It was marked by some of my biggest creative triumphs (my "Language of the Birds: Occult and Art" exhibition; the 2nd Occult Humanities Conference at NYU; the publication of my comic book, "What Is A Witch.") It was also marred by malady and tragedy, both personally and, in my opinion, nationally.
So now we regroup. We count our blessings. We make new commitments.
If there's one thing that's coming clear to me, it's that we need one another, and that no meaningful change can happen in a vacuum. I'm thinking about ways to reach out, reconnect, and rekindle in communities large and small.
Adam Dix's magnificent work is a recent discovery for me, and this painting, "Coven," feels like the right one to share today. Here's wishing you powerful, positive shifts this year. May you find your own coven, in any shape and of any name. And may we all make good magick together in 2017 and beyond.
Happy Solstice, everyone. I don't know about you, but right now I am longing for peace. It's been a challenging year on so many levels, and holiday madness on top of all of it is feeling like a no-go for me. Last night I lit some candles and tried to recenter. To focus on generating more compassion, more strength, and, please please, a bit of peace.
Sue Williams A'Court's work is really fitting the bill for me today. It is so very quiet, winter paletted, and elegant. Her landscapes have a masterful intricacy to them, but the floating, dense emblems rendered on top make the pieces feel like objects for focus and meditation. Her artist's statement says
"...The form, composition and materiality are meticulously constructed to summon a state of mind rather than a specific location. Central to the work is an exploration of the human desire for solace in 'numinous' experience within a reductionist secular context..."
And that really resonates with me. I hope during this longest night of the year, you have your own moment of numinous solace. Wishing you light, gentleness, and beauty this holiday season.
Holiday season is here, so I thought it worth mentioning that Mithras Candle is the official candle of Phantasmaphile for several reasons:
Order yours today and have a Solstice with the mostest!
One of the great aches of my life is that I still have yet to visit the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle. Lucky for me, they have provided us with the next best thing via a beautiful new book, "Of Shadows: One Hundred Objects from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic." It contains not only the exquisite photographs courtesy of Sara Hannant, but writing by museum director, Simon Costin, and a preface by the esteemed magic historian, Ronald Hutton. Each image is also accompanied by full written descriptions for added context.
Strange Attractor Press has done a marvelous job in crafting the book as well, and has released three editions which include a hardback special edition, standard hardback and paperback. It is also satisfyingly square-shaped, full-color, and impreccably designed, making it a rather totemic object unto itself.
One Hundred Objects from The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
By Sarah Hannant and Simon Costin
225 x 225 mm, 240pp
Over 120 images in colour & BW.
Available in pb, limited hb and Special editions.
One hundred objects, exuding magic and mystery, emerge from the darkness of Cornwall’s much-loved Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in this book of haunting photographs.
Artist and photographer Sara Hannant has captured the very essence of these carefully-selected artifacts, including wax dolls, wands, statues, daggers, pendants, robes and amulets. Each striking image tells its own vivid tale of belief and ceremonial practice.
Accompanying the photographs are informative texts from Sara Hannant and Museum director Simon Costin, as well as an illuminating introduction by the leading historian of British witchcraft and magic, Ronald Hutton.
Sara’s pictures are rites of evocation… a radically new and exciting approach to the work of representing the past to the present. ~ Ronald Hutton
Available in three editions – Hardback Special Edition, Standard Hardback and Paperback.
Do order yours here. It makes a dark and lovely gift for the holiday season and beyond.
I've been sharing a lot of my post-election blues and actions on social media, so I'll not address them here for the time being other than to say that it's been an excruciating several days. Very grateful to have the bright spot of Álvaro Barrios' retrospective, "Portrait of the Artist as a Medium," to celebrate, via its opening reception at Henrique Faria Fine Art tonight. And doubly happy that I was able to contribute in some small way, by penning the catalog essay for the exhibition.
Barrios has been been exploring themes of spirituality, surrealism, and creation through his art for decades in his Colombian homeland. Both meeting him in person and to getting to dialog with his work through my writing are rare opportunities that I don't take lightly. Do join us if you can this evening. And if not, make sure you see this magnificent show, which will be up through January 14th.
Yes, this day marks the 11th anniversary of this strange little corner of the interhaus! (All the more special as 11 is my lucky number, so feeling rather auspicious).
It's been an incredible, Phantasmaphilic year indeed, with highlights including my "Language of the Birds: Occult and Art" exhibition, the 2nd Occult Humanities Conference at NYU, the publication of my "What Is A Witch" comic book with Tin Can Forest, and numerous other events and adventures you've read about on here.
It's also Samhain season, and I was very happy to kick it off yesterday by talking about (what else) witches on Huffington Post Live. You can watch the segment here, if you so desire.
Thank you very much for enabling my wyrd ways for these past 11 years. I'm grateful as ever for the support, friendship, opportunities, and great kindness you have all helped usher into my life. And I wish you much magick and endless blessings today, and always.
'Tis the season for folks like us, and I've got two tasty events I'll be taking part in to celebrate this most witchly time of year.
First up is Ghostly Intimations, an evening of spooky lectures at Staten Island's Fort Tompkins, co-sponsored by the Alice Austen House and the Morbid Anatomy Museum, and happening this Saturday the 29th. I'll be giving an abridged version of my "Witch Pictures: Female Magic and Transgression" presentation. Other speakers include Harold Schechter, Corinne May Botz, and Ronni Thomas, and there will be a cocktail party at the Alice Austen House afterwards. Your favorite psychic phenomena photographer and mine, Shannon Taggart, has pulled this all together, so it's going to be an excellent evening no doubt! Details:
Date: Saturday, October 29th
Time: 8pm – 11pm
Location: ***Offsite – Fort Wadsworth, 210 New York Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10305.
Tickets Here !
Get spooked at Fort Tompkins! Join us for an evening of presentations exploring the fringes of photography, Victorian art, and occult phenomena. Co-presented by the Alice Austen House and Morbid Anatomy Museum, hosted by National Park Service inside a nineteenth century fort! Meet at Fort Wadsworth Visitor Center (210 New York Avenue, Staten Island). Bring your own flashlight! Cocktail party at Alice Austen House to follow at 10pm. Tickets required and must be purchased in advance.
Author Harold Schechter will discuss the art of writing about serial killers and the chilling true-account of Belle Gunness, the Lady Bluebeard, and the dark tourism around her crimes.
Photographer Corinne May Botz will discuss her book “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” an exploration of miniature crime scene models that were built in the 1940’s and 50’s by criminologist Frances Glessner Lee (1878 – 1962). The models, based on actual homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, were created to train detectives to assess visual evidence.
Pam Grossman, Getty Images’ Director of Visual Trends and co-organizer of the Occult Humanities Conference at NYU, will present a lecture on “Witch Pictures: Female Magic and Transgressions in Western Art”.
Ronni Thomas, the Morbid Anatomy Filmmaker-in-Residence, discusses mad science, mysticism, romance, and necrophilia within the macabre true story behind his feature film: “No Place for The Living: The Strange Tale of Carl von Cosel”, complete with a chilling score composed by theremin expert Paul Bergel.
Next up is the Comic Arts Brooklyn festival happening on Saturday, November 5th. I'll be at the Tin Can Forest table, helping sling books and prints and signing copies of our illuminated incantation, "What Is A Witch." The festival is at Mt. Carmel Gymnasium, 12 Havemeyer St. in Williamsburg from 11am to 7pm. It features 100+ exhibitors, and best of all, it is FREE, so do come along and say howdy.
I've been a longtime fan of Alison Blickle's creations, and considered myself very lucky to have one of her pieces in my exhibition at NYU, "Language of the Birds: Occult and Art" earlier this year. Her new show, "Private Rituals" at Kravets Wehby Gallery just opened last week, and it looks astounding. It features groups of women in clandestine gatherings, adorned with Blickle's signature optical glamours that feel part cubist, part psychedelic. She captures crystallized moments of magic and connection in the most magnificent ways, and lately has been adding another dimensional layer via ceramic fetishes that surround her paintings. More info:
The Kravets Wehby Gallery is pleased to announce Private Rituals, a solo exhibition of new work by Alison Blickle, opening on Thursday October 13, and running through November 12, 2016.
In this new collection of paintings and ceramics, Blickle continues to expand her world of women engaged in mysterious ceremonies and quiet performances. As a new mother, Blickle found inspiration in the extraordinary women in her life, from her midwife to her Wiccan herbalism school sisters. White vessels repeated in Blickle’s imagery suggest the cosmic egg, carefully tended to by the women who inhabit her scenes. The harlequin diamond pattern alludes to The Fool character from the classic Tarot deck, whose blissfully naive forays and journeys collide with Blickle’s own.
Alison Blickle lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited at the Nassau County Museum of Art, Torrance Art Museum, Beers London, Deitch Projects, and The Hole. Her work has been covered extensively by Juxtapoz Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Hi-Fructose Magazine. This will be her third solo exhibition at the gallery. A catalogue will be available.
I have been aching to see Laura Battle's new exhibition, "The Power of the Center," but I'm growing doubtful that I'll be able to make the trip upstate in time. Those who live nearby or have cars easily to hand, please be sure to visit it. She's overtaken The Barn at Meadowbrook Farm, adorning the exterior and interior with her large-scale symbol-laden paintings and drawings. Through the years, Battle has seemingly invented her own language, using pattern, color, and iconography to conjure new energetic fields. I can only imagine what these fine, spiritually resonant pieces look like juxtaposed against the worn wooden beams of the structure they're occupying: the heavenly meeting the earthly in one space. The show is open on weekends through October 16th, so there are a few more chances for you to see it:
The Power of the Center
Paintings by Laura Battle
The Barn at Meadowbrook Farm
71 Starbarrack Road
Red Hook, NY 12571
Open - Saturdays and Sundays 1-5 until October 16
And if you go, please tell these wonderworks I say hello.
Susan Jamison is one of my all-time favorite artists. She creates masterpieces that are unapologetically beautiful, dangerous, and feminine, and when I look at them, something within me feels as though it is unlocking. Her work has also become personally totemic for me, as I used one of her paintings as the image for "Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists," the first art show I ever curated. Quite simply, her paintings bring me luck, and they make me feel more magical by looking at them.
You can imagine how honored I was then to be asked to write a catalog essay for her new exhibition, "Super Natural," which opens tomorrow at The Longwood Center for the Visual Arts at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. This show looks to be an astounding culmination of a lifetime of using artwork to conjure, connect, and tell wild, wondrous tales. More info:
Super Natural: Susan Jamison is a site-specific installation that speaks to the universal act and nature of instinctive personal rituals, and references sources as varied as nature guides, fairy tales and myths. In addition to the egg tempera works for which she is primarily known, Jamison’s Super Natural is rendered in natural, organic materials including silk, earth and powdered milk. The artist will also lead a master class at Longwood this fall. On view September 24, 2016 – January 8, 2017. Opening reception on September 23, 5-8 pm.
The exhibition will include several of her paintings, in addition to a ghostly, ritualized installation. Wish I could see it in person, but my spirit is definitely entering her magic circle and cheering her on! Be there if you can be.
Jesse Bransford "Hills Become the Sun" 2015
Jesse Bransford's solo show, "Nomina Magica," opens at the Seligmann Center in Sugar Loaf, NY this coming Saturday, September 24th, and I could not be more excited for it. It will feature his signature method of syncretizing various spellworking traditions into masterful, softly prismatic drawings that leave the viewed charged and changed. This recent body of work focuses on Icelandic and Indian sigils, and fuses them with his own personal occult system. A video of the artist speaking about the project is here, and more show details below:
Sept 24th, 2016 - Jan 9th, 2017
Opening reception: Saturday, Sept 24th, 5-8pm
Jesse Bransford’s work to date represents an ever-sharpening focus on Art’s relationship to Magic. Bransford believes that this relationship represents a crucial space for a contemporary reconsideration of what it is to be Human. This exhibition focuses especially on two Magical systems: Icelandic magic as seen through contemporary seiðr practices, and Indian yantra forms, especially as described in the Mantramahodadhi (the “Ocean of Mantras”). While seemingly as far flung as two systems of thought could be, both geographically and culturally, the magic they both profess share striking similarities, relying heavily on visual meditation forms and so-called sacred geometry. Both are living traditions that recognize cultural overlaps and the site of consciousness as the generator of what is considered ‘reality’. Bransford’s aim in working with these two traditions is to draw out syncretic overlaps between the forms and to create synergies between the magical intentions of both systems.
The easiest access to the works presented are to realize that all magic practice involves three active categories:
Verbal: A series of vocalizations, sometimes intelligible, often in alternate languages or pure vocalizations. The project’s title, Nomina Magica (Latin: magical names) recognizes and draws attention to the possible powers of words, names and speech.
Somatic: The body used as a vehicle for magical energies, usually in the form of ritual postures (e.g. yoga). These postures activate actual space and ground the event/ritual in the place of the ritual. Both the artist and viewer are intended to be implicated in this dynamic.
Material: The theory of correspondences states that every thing has a symbolic meaning or lateral relation. Blood is akin to fire, for example. Every material can be likened to another thing or idea. The materials deployed to ends in this exhibition operate on many levels: color, tone and form, as well as sign, symbol and metaphor.
Recognizing the historically charged and magical aura of Seligmann’s farm, Bransford has not only made art objects that function magically, but is also explicitly making magical gestures that function artistically. If successful, the overall installation creates a series of spaces, portals and windows into other ways, magical ways, of experiencing art.
Jesse Bransford is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work is exhibited internationally at venues including The Carnegie Museum of Art, the UCLA Hammer Museum, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center and the CCA Wattis Museum among others. He holds degrees from the New School for Social Research (BA), Parsons School of Design (BFA) and Columbia University (MFA). An associate professor of art at New York University and the chair of the Department of Art and Art Professions, Bransford's work has been involved with belief and the visual systems it creates since the 1990s. Early research into color meaning and cultural syncretism led to the occult traditions in general and the work of John Dee and Henry Cornelius Agrippa specifically. He has lectured widely on his work and the topics surrounding his work and is the co-organizer of the biennial Occult Humanities Conference in New York. Work can be seen cataloged at http://
-Nomina Magica will remain on view through Monday, January 9, 2017
-Artist's Talk--Saturday, October 15 at 6pm
-Jaguar Society (Jesse Bransford & Jason Martin) Performance--Friday, November 4, 8pm
Some of you know that Jesse is a dear friend and frequent collaborator of mine, so to see his work be celebrated at such a special psychogeographical space, and viewed in the light of Kurt Seligmann's esoteric art legacy, is very meaningful. Can't wait to see this magnum opus become manifest.
I'm not in NYC right now but if I were, you can bet I'd be at tonight's opening of Judith Schaechter's show, "The Life Ecstatic." This new body of her signature stained glass miracle workings explores the concept of "transcendent joy," including both the celestially beautiful and the dangerously self-obliterating sides of ecstasy. As a longtime fan who has watched her work evolve over the years, it is incredible to see it become more elaborate and more controlled at the same time. She is a true master of craft, and viewing her literally luminous pieces in person is a transcendent experience in itself.
The show is up through October 15th, and I can't wait to see these fresh wonders when I return. Listening to this old favorite in the meantime to get myself in the appropriate frame of mind.
Thrilled to get the opportunity to speak again at the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle this weekend. The lineup is incredible, and includes such luminaries as Brian Cotnoir, Daniel A. Schulke, Benjamin A. Vierling, and Jon Graham. I'll be giving my "Witch Pictures: Female Magic and Transgression in Western Art" talk on Sunday, September 11th at 12:30pm, followed immediately by a signing of "What Is A Witch" in the vendor area. My collaborators, Tin Can Forest, will be in attendance as well, so be sure to stop by their table to say hello and marvel at their magnificent artworks.
Tickets available here.
I'm a big fan of Jodi Wille, director of the impeccable California cult documentary, The Source Family. And I'm also a devotee of anything Thalia Mavros and her new women-led media company, The Front, do. Swirl these phenoms together, and you come up with this glorious short documentary, We Are Not Alone, about the Unarius Academy of Science. Unarius was a spiritual art collective led by its clairvoyant, flamboyant founder, Ruth E. Norman. She and her members created a staggering oeuvre of theatre, art, and song all of which was meant to encourage healing and psychic growth in the participants. The film is chock full of archival footage, interviews, and prismatic visuals that are sure to brighten your day. It's a fascinating, trippy, and ultimately rather dear story, so do give it a watch here.
I adore everything that Djahari Clark and Desert Sin do. They manage to bring fairy tales and mythology to life on stage through theatrical dance and costume, and their performances are badass and breathtaking. Their aesthetic is like a live-action 80s Henson fantasy film meets Balinese puppetry pageant, with a dark adult edge thrown into the brew. If this all sounds delish to you, then you'll be glad to know they have a new show opening next week called Cloud Cuckooland. Loosely based on Aristophane's The Birds, the show is an opulent avian evening of "death and passion," as the press materials state.
If this all wasn't enough, I'm overjoyed to share that my favorite playwright / spousal comrade, Matthew Freeman, has written text for this, so I am majorly fangirling out, as the kids say.
Cloud Cuckooland, a dark fairytale conceived and directed by Djahari Clark (Desert Sin), with lyrical text by playwright Matthew Freeman (Why We Left Brooklyn with Blue Coyote Theater Group)
The production will run September 8-17 at House of Yes (2 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn) with performances Thursday through Saturday at 8pm.
This beautiful multi-media story is a journey through sight and sound inspired by ancient Greek tragedies, and birds. A story about death and rebirth, performed with dance, puppetry, spoken word, song, and aerial. Cloud Cuckooland centers on a Girl who, upon her death, journeys into a fantasy world where she becomes Queen of the Birds. But her Queendom is contingent on leaving her heart behind…a doomed existence the ambiguous birds enjoy to the very end. Wrapped in fairytale magic, Cloud Cuckooland speaks to modern society’s diminishing link to our inner selves while awakening our imagination.
September 8, 9, 10 & 15, 16, 17 @ 8pm
House of Yes
2 Wyckoff Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11237
Tickets here - be sure to nab yours before they fly away.
This season is blazing by me in all respects, so my intended posts are a bit backlogged. Case in point: been meaning to write about FASTWÜRMS since I learned about them when I was in Toronto way back in May. They're a Canadian artist collective, currently consisting of two makers, Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse. They play with the semiotics of witchcraft to create everything from multimedia installations, public art works, and short films. I love how their work is both ritualistic and irreverent, utilizing a dark and delightful DIY aesthetic. Denim witch garb. Macrame bats. Pentagram nation flags. So much yes.
Alright, I rarely do this, but I have been traveling so much lately (hi from London by the way!) that I've been more absent from blogland than I'd like. So here's a quick list of August-oriented things I've been meaning to post about. Wish I had time to do a one-off for each, but better succinct than never, ey?
Guillermo del Toro retrospective opened at LACMA yesterday. Up through Nov 27th.
"The Keeper" show explores the idea of collecting at the New Museum, NYC. They have a few Hilma af Klint pieces as part of it to boot. Up through Sept 25th.
Spartanburg Art Museum in South Carolina is currently showing "Pacts and Invocation: Magic and Ritual in Contemporary Art," up through August 28th.
"Equilibrium Rites," a bee magick and ecology art project spearheaded by Meesha Goldberg, opens at Hive Gallery, LA on Saturday Aug 6th, alongside group shows "Honey and Venom" and "Cosmic Union." All shows up through August 27th.
Speaking of bees, the divine Carrie Ann Baade painted this ridiculously glorious portrait of me for SF's Modern Eden Gallery. It is easily one of the strangest and most delightful things that has ever happened to me. You can check it out in person if you so desire, as it will be hanging there for a while. (Or you can, you know, buy it for me. Just sayin).
Wishing I could get up to the Hudson Valley for "The Sound Behind You II," a mystical landscape and nature show featuring many of my favorite artists including Jesse Bransford, Kari Adelaide, Max Razdow, and Juliet Jacobson. Show is up for one weekend only, August 13th and 14th.
Last shows ever up now at Seattle's trailblazing pop surrealist gallery Roq La Rue, and RIP to the current location of Brooklyn's beloved Stephen Romano Gallery. Both Kirsten Anderson and Stephen Romano will re-emerge armed with even more weird and wondrous schemes, no doubt.
I can't stop buying work by Rebecca Artemisa.
Just finished reading the newly released trade of comics series, Monstress, and holy moly is it a stunner.
Yes, Stranger Things really is the best best BEST.
Still anxiously awaiting a release date for Hope Sandoval's new album, but this new Massive Attack track featuring her is at least *something*.
That's all for now. Hope you're having a splendid summer, truly.
I confess I first fell for Lindsay Stripling's more epic and weird watercolor tableaux. But then I happened upon this lovely witch work and had to post it because - well, you read this blog so I don't have to explain!
I've had this album on heavy rotation lately, and it's too divine not to share.
But first, a preamble: I was introduced to Jorge Ben's music by a work colleague during my trip to Brazil two years ago. He's considered a national treasure there (often referred to "BenJor" or by his later name modification, Jorge Ben Jor), and is beloved for his fusion of bossa nova, samba, and rock. I confess that while I liked the early samba album of his that I procured there, it's not something I found myself playing too often once I was back home for whatever reason.
Fast forward to my recent discovery of his 1970s work, in particular this 1974 album, A Tábua De Esmeralda. For you non-Portuguese speakers out there, the title translates to "The Emerald Tablet," and the music therein is chock full of references to alchemy, Nicolas Flamel, Paracelsus, and the one and only Hermes Trismegistus himself. In fact, one of the last tracks, "Hermes Trismegisto e sua celeste tábua de esmeralda" has the words of the Emerald Tablet as its lyrics set to groovy song.
Sonically, it's an eclectic, joyful album, with beautiful arrangements and irresistible rhythms. It sounds like summer. But the esoteric content has boosted this into my firmament of All-Time Favorite Things.
If you're so intrigued, you can read the lyrics translated into English and interpreted at the Brazil 70 Translation Project.
(Many thanks to Gabriel Stefano for the intro to Jorge Ben, and to Lynda Barry for the reminder and spotlight on this phase of his oeuvre).
I am thrilled to announce "Green Witch: Plant Magic, Alchemy, and the Wild Feminine," an evening of conversation between myself and my teacher, the legendary green witch, Robin Rose Bennett. Some of you know that Robin has had a deep influence on my practice and my life on the whole, and this will be a rare opportunity for me to get to ask her even more questions and exchange ideas with her about plant energy, witchcraft, divine feminism, and more. It will be taking place on Thursday, July 28th, 7:30pm at The Alchemist's Kitchen in NYC's East Village.
"Green Witch: Plant Magic, Alchemy, and the Wild Feminine"
A conversation with Pam Grossman of Phantasmaphile, and renowned herbalist, Robin Rose Bennett
Thursday, July 28, 2016
7:30pmThe Alchemist's Kitchen, 21 East 1st St, NYC
$20 tickets available here
There are many interpretations of the word "witch," and as an archetype, the witch is as complex as they come. But one thing is clear: she is a potent change-maker who is intimately connected to the Earth and her magick. Whether concocting a botanical potion, engaging in seasonal ritual, or crafting an alchemical spell, she is in constant relationship to nature - and to her own wild self.
In this evening of conversation and celebration, writer and esoteric art curator, Pam Grossman, will discuss aspects of witchcraft and plant energy with her teacher, the legendary green witch, Robin Rose Bennett. Topics will include herbalism and ecology, feminine (and feminist) power, the current rise in popularity of witches, and the ways that the witch can teach us how to heal ourselves, our communities, and our planet.
Pam Grossman is a writer, curator, and teacher of magical practice and history. She is the author of the illuminated manifesto, "What Is A Witch" (Tin Can Forest Press 2016), and the creator of Phantasmaphile, a blog that specializes in esoteric and fantastical art. Pam’s group art shows and projects have been featured by such outlets as Artforum, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Art in America. She is Associate Editor of Fulgur Esoterica and the co-organizer of the Occult Humanities Conference at NYU.
Robin Rose Bennett is an herbalist, writer, and educator who teaches WiseWoman Healing Ways of herbal medicine and EarthSpirit teachings. She is the author of two meditation CDs and the books Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living, and, most recently, The Gift of Healing Herbs. www.WiseWomanHealingWays.com
I hope you'll join us.
We had the very good fortune of seeing Tony Oursler's "Imponderable" Archive show up at Bard last weekend, and I highly encourage you to make the trip if you're able. Oursler has been collecting thousands of supernatural and occult books, objects, photographs, and other ephemera stretching back to the 19th century, and his archive is eclectic and vast. This exhibition is a comprehensive and beautifully curated "best of" if you will, and touches on topics from cryptozoology to Spiritualism to stage magic to witchcraft.
It also features some of Oursler's own entrancing, sly 4D video works which complement the exhibition well. Those, plus frequent references to his grandfather, Charles Fulton Oursler - a friend of Houdini's and noted mediumship debunker - give the show a personal texture. It becomes not only about humanity's history of seeking, but a slippery, winking portrait of the artist and his influences.
The exhibition is accompanied by a new edition of his tremendous book, "Imponderable: The Archive of Tony Oursler." There is also a coincident show at MoMA featuring his video installation, also called "Imponderable."
Full details on all:
Tony Oursler: The "Imponderable" Archive
June 25, 2016 - October 30, 2016
CCS Bard Galleries
Imponderable is an extensive research project, exhibition, film, and publication that investigates the personal collection of American artist Tony Oursler, a remarkable trove of more than 2,500 photographs, documents, publications, and unique objects, tracking a social, spiritual, and intellectual history dating back to the early eighteenth century. The actual objects within the archive will be shown for the first time in this comprehensive exhibition, extending the previous iterations of Imponderable commissioned by the LUMA Foundation in Arles and Zurich, where the 4D film and publication were originally presented in 2015. Concurrent with the presentation at CCS Bard, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York will exhibit a full-scale theater screening of Oursler’s Imponderable film (June 18, 2016 – January 2, 2017).
The project’s title, Imponderable, suggests the idea of something that cannot be determined with accuracy. Eighteenth-century scientists used the word to describe magnetism, electricity, and other unquantifiable energies, many of which are represented in Oursler’s archive. The ‘imponderable’ also suggests an area of open speculation populated by numerous conflicting belief systems. Additionally, Oursler is interested in how even the most incredible ideas can be presented in such a way that they convince the audience of their veracity.
The landscape of the archive covers numerous categories such as: stage magic, thought photography, demonology, cryptozoology, optics, Mesmerism, automatic writing, hypnotism, fairies, cults, pareidolia, the occult, color theory, and UFOs. Oursler’s initial research into these fringe practices of media histories and occult phenomenon led the artist further into ideas of speculative thought, the boundaries of science, the use of the spectacular, all of which resonate with contemporary pop culture. For Oursler, nested and mirrored within this archive, is also an intriguing family history that includes his grandfather, Fulton Oursler, Houdini, and the author Arthur Conan Doyle.
Originally commissioned by the LUMA Foundation for LUMA Arles in France, this project investigates new possibilities for archives and artistic production, which is one of its primary concerns. Imponderable translates the original archival materials into the form of a film, an installation, and a publication, providing new insight into both the material gathered by the artist over many years, and the trajectory of his own work.
The 4D film-based experience to be shown at MoMA explores the conflicting and overlapping belief systems implicit within his grandfather’s engagement with the debunking of paranormal activity. In addition to the exhibition of more than two thousand objects at CCS Bard, the broader reach of the archival material is presented in a six-hundred page, fully illustrated, publication that makes the archive available to the public for the first time. Alongside a substantial visual catalogue of Oursler’s archive, organized by the artist, this publication gathers a large number of newly commissioned texts by scholars, historians, and fellow enthusiasts for material that certainly lies outside the mainstream.
Imponderable: The Archives of Tony Oursler was commissioned and produced by the LUMA Foundation for the Parc des Ateliers in Arles, France. Curated by Tom Eccles and Beatrix Ruf.
The exhibition Tony Oursler: The Imponderable Archive, curated by Tom Eccles and Beatrix Ruf is on view at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, from June 25 to October 30, 2016.
Tony Oursler: Imponderable, curated by Stuart Comer and Erica Papernik-Shimizu, is on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, from June 18, 2016 to January 2, 2017.
(Many thanks to Susan Aberth for making sure we saw this!)
London, you've done it again. An exhibition of Georgiana Houghton's spirit drawings opens tomorrow at The Courtland Gallery, marking the first time her work has been displayed in the UK in nearly 150 years. She's often spoken about in the same breath as Hilma af Klint, though Houghton's work preceded hers. Regardless, both of these artists are considered godmothers of abstract art, and saw themselves as channels for the spirits to communicate to the material world via color and form. Not to mention, they were creating work decades before female artists began to get acknowledgement by the art world at large. It's astounding and exciting that they are beginning to get their due.
"Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings" is up through September 11th. Here's hoping I can visit before then!
Several of you lovelies have sent me this Artsy article about eight lesser-known female surrealists, and I'm delighted to say I learned of a couple of wonderful, new (to me) artists through it. First and foremost is Gertrude Abercrombie, a Chicago-based painter whose self-portraits occupy a dreamspace filled with nocturnal creatures and magical goings-on. I love the flatness of these images, for they belie a complex interior life, soaked in personal symbolism.
Abercrombie's biography is fascinating as well: she ran in jazz circles, had Dizzy Gillespie perform at her second wedding, and was the inspiration behind the Richie Powell song, "Gertrude's Bounce." She also apparently liked to wear a velvet, pointy hat to emphasize her witchlike appearance.
A woman after my own heart.