Curated by Astri Swendsrud and Quinn Gomez-Heitzeberg
Sunday, October 12, 2014
This exhibition will engage with ideas surrounding the actualization of utopian ideals. Throughout human history, the desire for improved methods of being in the world has driven visionary leaders to propose ideal models for society. This exhibition aims to examine the complexities and difficulties that occur when these utopian social plans move from the idealized space of the proposal to actualization in the world.
The impetus for this exhibition stems from a physical site of recurring alternative societies – The Hatchery, located near the small town of Badger in Central California. The Hatchery first gained notoriety as the home of Synanon, a California-based self-help movement turned authoritarian religious cult that rose to prominence in the 1960s and 70s. After Synanon’s collapse, the abandoned Hatchery compound was converted into an Islamic community and school called Baladullah. Formed as a haven for Muslim families to escape the poverty and conflict experienced in larger cities, the Baladullah community fell to rumors of terrorist activity and anti-Islamic sentiment shortly after September 11, 2001.
The paired narratives of Synanon and Baladullah – from their idealistic origins, through their eventual collapses – serve as case studies of the difficulties of actualizing utopian societal alternatives. This exhibition includes works by artists that form connections to the three distinct phases of Synanon’s utopian model – from the personal utopia of self-help, to the communal utopia of an alternative social structure, to its final, universalized iteration as a totalitarian religion. The title of the exhibition – God Will Not Have His Work Made Manifest By Cowards – comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance,” a text which served as a cornerstone of Synanon’s philosophy. It points toward the intersections of personal effort, social enforcement, and divine authority which underlie most utopian experiments. The artists in this exhibition create works that address and investigate these attempts in their various individual, political and esoteric implications.
This exhibition will take place in two phases. First, a selection of performance pieces developed in connection to the Hatchery site will be shown in a public event at the Hatchery in Badger, CA on Sunday, October 12, 2014. The second portion of the show will be exhibited online at Light & Wire Gallery in November 2014, including the work created on site presented alongside works by visual artists and writers exploring the complexities that come with actualizing utopian ideals.
Performance Exhibition Artists/Writers:
Anthony Bodlović is a Los Angeles based performance artist and practicing art therapist. A hybrid of personal therapy and ethnography, his work focuses on narratives and how they endure around, in, and through the body. He has participated in group shows in Los Angeles and Berlin and had his first solo performance in 2014 at Human Resources, LA. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Loyola Marymount University in the department of Martial and Family Therapy, and is currently completing his PhD in Culture and Performance Studies at UCLA.
Ronald Lawrence Dzerigian was born in the city of Fresno, California, to a family of teachers, farmers, and artists on September 11, 1976. He is proud to be a by-product of the small towns and rural immediacy of the great Central Valley. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from California State University Fresno, in 2002, he left by train to work a variety of odd/edifying jobs in Brooklyn, NY, and Los Angeles, CA, up until late 2012 when, after a sudden return to writing, he decided to relocate to Fresno. His artwork has been exhibited in several galleries, museums, and venues in New York and California. His writings have been featured in a variety of hard-to-find small press publications. The year 2014 finds Ronald comfortable as a thirty-eight year old porch-sitter who knows, too well, the pleasures of the mundane.
Zach Kleyn is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work is an examination into the ways in which ideologies weave themselves into the tapestry of a human personality. His projects have been shown at the Torrance Art Museum, the New York Center for Art and Media Studies in New York, Cirrus Gallery, Actual Size, Commonwealth and Council, Human Resources and Monte Vista Projects in Los Angeles, as well as Espace Curtat Tunnel in Lausanne, Switzerland. His writing has been published in The Art Book Review and Notes on Looking, and his artwork has appeared in several literary journals, including LIT, VLAK, and SPECS. He received his MFA from CalArts in 2010.
Jason Kunke is a Los Angeles based artist whose practice includes sculpture, drawing, installation, video, and performance. His art examines how authority and aesthetics inform each other. He received his MFA from CalArts in 2007, and his BFA (with a minor in sociology) from University of Houston in 2004. He has exhibited nationally at Polvo in Chicago, Commerce Street Artist Warehouse in Houston, and 25CPW in New York. In Los Angeles he has exhibited at Sea and Space Explorations, LAXART, and Dan Graham. Along with five other artists, he co-runs Elephant, an artist run space in Glassell Park.
Sarah Petersen’s (MFA CalArts, 2012) practice ranges from lapel pins to group hums, site-specific performance to interventionist political games. Her work has recently been shown around LA (Honor Fraser Gallery, Perform Chinatown, Paramount Ranch Art Fair, Venice 6114), in the desert (Shangri-la in Joshua Tree), and in the wilds of Germany (at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst, Braunschweig). She is currently teaching a class called Ideation and Process, and not quite making it up as she goes along.
Semi-Tropic Spiritualists is a project by Los Angeles-based artists Astri Swendsrud and Quinn Gomez-Heitzeberg. Their performance works and objects explore the history of spiritual and occult belief in Los Angeles through the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists, an organization that created a campsite meeting place outside the city limits of Los Angeles in 1905. Spiritualism described itself as a science, a philosophy and a religion. They interested in this system as a model for exploring ideas of faith and skepticism, belief and charlatanism, as well as for the development of a space dedicated to investigation and the search for knowledge. The Semi-Tropic Spiritualists began their collaboration in 2012, and have exhibited at Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles; The Vincent Price Museum, Los Angeles; Shangri-La, Joshua Tree, CA; and Chime & Co., Los Angeles, among other locations. Both artists received their MFAs from CalArts in 2008.