Last Night: Rituals, Screaming and Lucky Charms

When you think about rituals the mind might move to thoughts of voodoo, demons, Ouija boards and protection spells or perhaps its just your daily beauty routine or route to work. Down in Peckham, a group of young artists have created a compelling exhibition exploring the use of rituals as a conduit for art. ‘Ubi sunt’ sees seven very different takes on the subject matter from of some of art’s leading young operators.

Through ongoing conversations between curator Jareh Das and artists – Samantha Sweeting, Grace Morgan Pardo, Alison Honey, Sophia Schorr-Kon, Minnie Weisz, Elza Jo and Oliver Pietsch – the exhibition, Ubi sunt, explores meditations on mortality and life’s transience.

The Old Chapel is the perfect venue for an exhibition on art and ritual – a church that was bombed during the Blitz but that retained its stained glass windows. The chapel is a work of art and magic, with history in its walls and light and colour in its glass eyes.

Samantha Sweeting’s video, ‘The House Falls Down’, inadvertently became the chilling soundtrack to the preview, with her infrequent screams piercing the chapel’s echoey hall. The performance in a French farmhouse she had lived in with her then boyfriend shows Sweeting at the end of that relationship, creating a kind of screamed eulogy for their relationship’s passing.

Sweeting’s interaction with the animals in the video shows how her actions affect others: her cat’s concern as Sweeting screams; the confrontational nature of her relationship her pet sheep, Oscar, the video’s clown. Oscar is somewhat of a muse for Sweeting since hand rearing the animal after he was rejected by his mother.

Sweeting said of her visual, incongruous behaviour:
“It’s an expression of hysteria – the arched back, the primal scream, the conflict between the fantasy of letting go and the shame that that release produces. It’s about the emotional history that is housed in the body, both personal and inherited, mirrored in the crumbling and cracked stones of the barn. It was uncanny how much the walls of the chapel matched those in my video”

Alison Honey has created a series of amulets to ward off evil spirits and pieces entitled Totem I and Totem II, symbols of hunting and worship. She talks about the work in our video.

Chilean-Canadian artist Grace Morgan Pardo‘s work took centre stage with Elza Jo‘s ‘Something Sacred in the Woods’ series of shaman-esque portraits adorning the back walls and a performance that saw her mesmerise the preview crowd with series of engaging binding spells that drew on customs from her South American background.

Oliver Pietsch has created a film that showcases the history of death in cinema. Minnie Weisz‘s photographs reinvented a series of scenes from the Chapel’s history. Sophia Schorr-Kon created immersive photographic work that represented life on the brink of death.

At the close of the private view an after party kicked off at the CLF Art Café and enabled those at the show to unwind into the more laid-back Friday night rituals of cocktail drinking and dodgy dancing.

Ubi Sunt is at The Old Chapel, Asylum Road, Peckham,Thursday to Sunday from July 29th to August 14th

Source: THINK-WORK-PLAY – a virtual clubhouse for the creative community

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