Phos Hilaron Brings a New Religion to the Heartland

On first impression, Ventiko’s Phos Hilaron: From the Masses Rise the Saints installation transports visitors to an altered state of Indiana. On view at Schwitzer Gallery, CCIC, 1125 East Brookside Avenue, Indianapolis, IN through November 29, the project draws from religious source imagery to transport viewers to an art experience for the masses. 

Phos Hilaron Altar View: Installation View at Schwitzer Gallery, CCIC, Indianapolis, IN
Phos Hilaron Altar View: Installation View at Schwitzer Gallery, CCIC, Indianapolis, IN

Corn hangs suspended from the ceiling, forcing the viewer through – all the while upending expectations the viewer may have of Indiana and its people. Once through the corn, the viewer is confronted with a scene reminiscent of a sacred Roman Catholic grotto. Candles are arranged delicately on an altar, draped with dark velvet and gold trim, and sacred relics used in the photographs on the same candles are displayed alongside them. As Santa Geri Berry, the Patron Saint of Inquiring Minds notes, “transported through the lines upside-down corn stalks and feeling immersed in them reinforced associations with the harvest, suggesting a very different sort of sacred realm, just as the Saints are very different from any usual idea of a Saint and a very different image of people from Indiana. I couldn’t help making a connection with Sukkot; it was like an altar in a Sukkah: a bringing together of a Jewish space with a Catholic type practice.” 

The references are intentional. Ventiko, the artist who organized Phos Hilaron for this Indianapolis iteration of the project, grew up Jewish in Indianapolis and first made a Sukkah out of corn stalks with her temple youth group when she was in high school. Returning to Indianapolis to expand upon Phos Hilaron: From the Masses Rise the Saints, this iteration focuses not just on the beauty of difference and individuality, but emphasizes homogeneity is not harmony: rather, that harmony is respect and inclusion of all. (The first iteration debuted at Chinatown Soup in Manhattan during the first 100 days of the Trump administration and featured a cross section of 100 urban creatives.) Over a four week period Ventiko photographed 59 ‘Saints’ from Indianapolis in intimately customized sets, helping them visualize their ‘Saint’ concept. The entire project was a collaboration between the artist and the Saint. The mythology of the Saint and the vision of the artist culminated in the installation, and also resulted a more intimate piece: a book. Organizing artist Ventiko reflects on her gratitude that so many creatives were excited to participate in this version of the project. “I am grateful to have been blessed by the beauty and power of so many wonderful Saints,” reflects the artist.

 

Artists who participated in the project have expressed the impact of their encounters with the artist as she was setting up the project. Santa Akilah, The Patron Saint of Patience, remarked, “When I first went to the photo shoot I didn’t know what to expect. As soon she started taking pictures I felt so comfortable and safe. She was able to capture my inner goddess in the picture.” Ventiko herself comments on this process of photographing her “Patron Saints”: “I see myself as a catalyst for the exaltation of the beauty of difference and elevation of the preciousness of individuality rather than one constructing or constricting the identity of any ‘Saint’ or person. It is a respect for difference, including freedom of thought, as well as idiosyncrasies that will ultimately lead to the unification of the human race and foster in a time when we all can work towards solving our global crises rather than consistently focusing on pettiness and being manipulated by propaganda.”

The project is successful on many levels, as reflected in these personal and meaningful reflections from participants. By opening up new avenues of communications for creatives in the Heartland, Phos Hilaron functions as a grassroots confirmation of the talent present in the vibrant city of Indianapolis. Bringing community together and thwarting expectations that outsiders may have of the area captures the double success of both re-affirming and introducing local talent to each other and to a wider audience.  “From day one, I knew this cutting edge, contemporary photography installation would take Indianapolis by storm. After hearing the various layers Phos Hilaron presented in NY and adding special dimensions for the Indianapolis chapter, I envisioned a communal based project that would uplift an entire state,” remarks Tony Quintana, The Patron Saint of Growth. Others including curator Maria Behringer have commented on the measure of warmth and acceptance this project has brought into their life. “Ventiko’s concept of community and inclusivity surrounding her Phos Hilaron project is exactly why we wanted to collaborate and bring her exhibition to Indianapolis. Her strong work ethic and creative process can easily be seen through her photography and the final Altar itself. We completely trusted her vision through the entire process. We are extremely grateful to have collaborated with her.”

Patron Saint of Inquiring Minds, Santa Geri Beri, part of Phos Hilaron on view in Indianapolis, IN

To make this project a reality Ventiko collaborated with the Indianapolis-based curators Quintana-Behringer. Ventiko’s studio was in the CCIC building (https://circlecityind.com/), a creative hub in downtown Indianapolis where Quintana-Behringer are located. Santo Aaron, The Patron Saint of Technodeath describes working with Ventiko: “It was serendipity how we met. The chance encounter of coming into a space and meeting another creative that was on the hustle and making something huge and fantastic honestly inspired us at Soundspace to do better. Instead of this being an empty office having Ventiko here made it feel more like a home.” Two weeks into the project Soundspace (https://sndspc.com/) moved in to share the space which is Soundspace Beta and soul connections flourished. Ventiko looks forward to expanding the exhibition to London in 2020 as there are many more Saints to canonize their, bringing the project to a new community ready to embrace their inner Sainthood. 

 

 

 

Performance is Alive x ANTE. Performance Picks at Satellite Art Show NYC Oct 3-6 2019

October 3-6 marks the inaugural edition of Satellite Art Show in Brooklyn, and along with that comes the most significant collection of live & recorded performance art ever presented by Performance is Alive.

ANTE. Mag is proud to serve as Media Sponsor for this groundbreaking performance art presentation by Performance is Alive – a survey of the most exciting emerging and mid-career performance/new media artists with an intersectional lens, representing a diverse group of bodies and identities. Don’t miss the full roster of Performance is Alive-curated programming, with two especially notable events occurring Friday, October 4th at 8 pm when notable artist Barbara Rosenthal discusses her work in tandem with a screening of “News to Fit the Family” and Saturday, October 5th at noon for “Queer Form: A Panel Discussion” centered around queer body politics in new media and performance – for full list of events, follow the Performance is Alive Schedule on their Facebook page and also available HERE.

AlisonPirie_PressImage2_PerformanceDocumentationbyLiaHanson - Alison Pirie
Alison Pirie for “Performance is Alive” Satellite Art Show NYC 2019

Now on to our Top 12 ANTE. Mag picks for Performance is Alive @ Satellite Art Show, October 3-6, 2019…

  1. Alison Pirie a juggernaut working across performance, installation, new media and more, Pirie juggles simultaneous explorations of gender, identity, language and sexuality: with a particular lens onto female sexuality and the concept of “female hysteria”. With past projects at LaMama Galeria in NYC and the Situation Room in LA, Pirie is a force of nature to be reckoned with in her powerful considerations of these contemporary themes. Make sure to experience her performance on opening night at Performance is Alive: she will be presenting her work Thursday, 10/3 at Satellite.
  2. Kathie Halfin – living and working in the Bronx, Russian-Israeli artist Halfin is an interdisciplinary artist working across installation, performance, sound and costume production. Her performances tease out the nuanced narratives attached to female objectification. Halfin holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and is affiliated with Wassaic Project, Vermont Studio Center, the Bronx Museum and more.
  3. Amanda Hunt & IV Castellanos – a collaboration that has lent itself to a studied exploration in reciprocity through repetitive catching of one another’s bodies, Hunt & IV Castellanos sets the stage for a longed-for Queer and Feminist Utopia. The artists have performed in the US and abroad, creating a set of actions in tandem that seek to provoke audiences to re-examine social approaches to equanimity and labor.
  4. SUNGJAE LEE – based in Chicago, LEE is a multidisciplinary artist whose work investigates periphery and its relationship to center. An MFA Graduate in Performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, LEE has presented works in the US, Canada, and South Korea among other locations. The artist’s candid and perceptive responses to other-ing augment Performance is Alive’s 2019 programming.
  5. Wild Actions (Patience, Carley McCready-Bingham, Ginger Wagg) – Hailing from North Carolina, Wild Actions presents a sculpture garden for Performance is Alive that presents their focus on interactive performance installations. Their radical, performative and eco-conscious approach marks a breath of fresh air among the PIA presentations.
  6. Barbara Rosenthal – A conceptual artist working across (seemingly) limitless mediums, Rosenthal’s inclusion into Performance is Alive is a true coup. The artist will be present on Friday, Oct 4 for a screening – as noted above – and any true connoisseurs of performance and conceptual art should be in attendance. Based in the West Village, Rosenthal has influenced modern art and philosophy: influence which continues to exert its presence through her projects based in the present day.
  7. Nadja Verena Marcin – An artist working across borders in Germany and the United States, Marcin’s multidisciplinary work across photography, video, and more exudes a deceptive straightforward quality. The artist engages across a broad platform of eco-conservation, feminism, and sociopolitical inquiry. Catch her work while you can on view at Performance is Alive!
  8. Katina Bitsicas – Exploring trauma, crime and the psychological presence of architecture on the human psyche, “other”ing and the personal experiences driving overarching social justice issues. A new media artist who has shown in the US and abroad, Bistsicas’ work delves deep into issues that are driving contemporary political discourse in the United States.
  9. Tales Frey – A founding member of eRevista Performatus, Frey’s artistic practice explores elements relating to body and ritual. A multidisciplinary artist, works by Frey have been exhibited across Latin America and Europe and involve incisive visual constructions to form social commentaries.
  10. Sylvain Souklaye – A sound, video and performance artist, Souklaye contrats personal narrative with collective memory, identity and demographic. His works have been shown in Europe and Latin America, and involve performative acts by the artist as well as interaction with diverse populations in disparate urban centers.
  11. Cherrie Yu – Yu’s work mines pop culture and performativity in equal measure through a practice rooted in new media and performance. Ideals attached to assignations such as “queer” and “open” are interrogated through surveys of existing bodies of work by and by placing the spectator in a dissociative state in relationship to other “bodies” – such as in interdisciplinary performance and new media installation. Yu’s new media work will be displayed as part of “Performance is Alive”.
  12. Rachel L. Rampleman – Brooklyn-based artist Rampleman explores identity and spectacle – intimacy and grandeur – through a multi-disciplinary lens. With solo exhibits in the US and abroad, the artist’s work delves into the latent tension underlying masculine and feminine identities.

Clockwise from upper left: Artists featured at Performance is Alive include Kathie Halfin, Igor Furtado and Sylvain Souklaye.

ABOUT PERFORMANCE IS ALIVE
Based in Brooklyn, NYC, Performance Is Alive is an online platform featuring the work and words of current performance art practitioners. Through interviews, artist features, sponsorship and curatorial projects, we aim to support the performance community while offering an access point to the performance curious. Performance is Alive at SATELLITE ART SHOW is curated by Quinn Dukes (Founder + Director). | performanceisalive.com

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ANTE. Mag is dedicated to bringing under-the-radar contemporary artists to a wider audience. To this end, ANTE.’s Editorial team specifically focuses on highlighting works by intersectional artists and cultural producers to our readership. If you believe you are working on a project that fits this description and deserves wider recognition, please email our editor: audra@antemag.com

Cleanse Yourself at DETOX, Presented by The Blue Rose at The Ear on 7/21

 

Oya Damla, The Ear, 2017 still from video by Karl Cooney
Oya Damla (2017; The Ear) film still from video by Karl Cooney

It’s not every day that emerging stars from across visual arts, performance art and literary arts join forces. However, Saturday, July 21st is that day.  The Blue Rose presents: DETOX at The Ear, 255 Boerum Street (#1) in Brooklyn, beginning at 8 pm. Multidisciplinary artists, storytellers and image makers are presented over the course of a single, magical evening. Curated by Polina Riabova, a formative performance artist in her own right, the event features the talents of Kaia Gilje & Mohammed Zenia, Claribel Jolie Pichardo, Oya Damla, Lauren O’Neal, Emily Brill, and Jung Hee Mun over a the course of a three hour event.

 

Claribel Jolie Pichardo, Performeando for Queens Museum
Claribel Jolie Pichardo, Performeando 2016 for Queens Museum (photo courtesy the Queens Museum)

With a focus on gender equality and marginalized voices, The Ear is an art space that has become synonymous with ground-breaking experimental events and performances. The evening features renowned multi-faceted performance artist Pichardo, whose interactive work combines performance with audience participation, body-based collaborative performance work by Gilje and Zenia, performance reflecting the body and identity through sound by Damla, Brill’s incisive literary stylings, O’Neal’s thoughtful reflections, and Mun’s explorations on behavior and human aesthetics as transferred through image-making. The first time these creative luminaries are all engaged in a single evening, each performer evinces a unique perspective on social dynamics and the human condition through contemporary art-marking and literature.

Shawn Escarciga, 2017, The Blue Rose at The Ear, photo credit Oya Damla
Shawn Escarciga (2017; The Blue Rose at The Ear) photo courtesy Oya Damla

Featuring multi-talented New-York based creatives in experimental, genre-bending performances, DETOX marks a departure in cutting-edge contemporary arts and literature. Don’t miss your chance to join in the fun – RSVP today!