Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mean Girls

I am fortune to be participating in a (sure to be amazing) group show this summer at Satellite Gallery here in Asheville. The show is being curated by Alli Good and will feature a cast of all women artists. The title/concept is "Mean Girls." My interpretation of this idea involves an installation portraying the supernatural and malicious side of children's play.

As a child I remember trying to bend spoons, reading tarot cards and staring into the bathroom mirror repeating the phrase "bloody mary" 45 times in a row to see if the dead woman's face would really appear. My best friend wore a casino chip on a piece of yarn around her neck that she claimed was magical and we spent a lot of time in the cemetery behind her house trying to talk to ghosts and raise the dead. Ritual was a large part of my experience of nature and spirituality. Before any communication with "other worlds" or harnessing of transformational powers there were rules that must be followed, and followed precisely.

A good example of this kind of play is illustrated in Zilpha Keatly Snyder's 1985 young adult book: The Egypt Game. The story involves a group of kids, who, fascinated with ancient Egypt, create rituals involving a secret meeting place, gods, made up languages and costumes. Par the course, their rituals end up releasing a disturbing force in the town and all kinds of manors of creepy things abound.

Another excellent source to examine ritual/nature/magic through is the work of artist Saya Woolfalk.
In her words:"My work considers the idea that symbolic and ideological systems can be activated and re-imagined through collaboration, imaginative play and masquerade. To effect this re-imagining objects, bodies, and landscapes are constructed to immerse us in the logic of another place." Woolfalk's work is incredibly strong and i think it pretty much speaks for itself.

I imagine the installation to consist of three or four children (large doll bodies) wearing colorful costumes and conducting a secret game in which one of the children is seen to be at the mercy of the rest: i.e. one child facing the corner while the other close in on her, that kind of feeling. Of being turned on, of being betrayed, of something dark and maybe, natural? Made up game pieces strew about, game boards and colorful magical tools around them on the floor. The mean part. The part where an adult is supposed to walk in and doesn't.