Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do do that Voo Doo that you do so well

As you all know OTN is always on the look out for art themes, and one you can’t avoid at the moment is the occult. Hard to find an exhibition where someone is not casting spells, telling fortunes or summoning up something or other. 

All this makes you appreciate the prescience of Auckland artist Dane Mitchell. He arranged for a witch to curse the space under the stairs of Starkwhite’s downstairs gallery in the exhibition Vanishing point back in 2005 and then went on to chat with the recalcitrant spirit of Rita Angus a year or so later. Unfortunately Dane’s escapades with Wellington’s painterly ghost did not make it into Gaylene Preston’s documentary Lovely Rita but you can catch up with them via the DVD extras. 

In summation of this recent spiritual turn by artists around the world, the Quai Branly Museum presented the exhibition Masters of chaos. The curator Kean de Loisy selected some of the Museum’s most powerful objects and placed them in dialogue with contemporary pieces that drew on transgressive ideas of shamanism (Joseph Beuys) and shape shifting (Paul McCarthy and Jonathan Meese) and spirits (Annette Messager). 

One installation that stopped most people short was a small altar that had been specifically created by the Voo Doo priest Aze Kokovivina in the exhibition. Most visitors were attracted to the motley pile of waxed objects and detritus and then on reading the description, as quickly put as much distance as they could between them and it. 

Images: Left, Dane Mitchell’s cursed space at Starkwhite and right, Voo Doo shrine at Quai Branly