Artists: Julia de Ville, Jessica Herrington, Celeste Aldahn, Tamara Dean, Robbie Karmel, Marian Tubbs, Kate Rohde, Owen Lewis and Helen Shelly.
Perhaps it all started with the skull thing. On one hand peaking with Damien Hirst’s diamonds, and on the other with the skull printed scarves, t-shirts, underpants, umbrellas for a sale at every two-bit chain store in town. The esteemed tradition of the Vanitas, the revered motif, now a grotesque cartoon grin, hollowed eyes mirroring hollow production. Then came the feathers, the jewelry, the headdresses. The how-can-it-be-PC appropriations of ancient cultures. North America, South America, any but the Modern Day America. Leather and tassels and fringing and beading. There were crystals and circles and triangles and orbs. There were trees with skeleton leaves reaching out to stars stretching out across the sky and full yellow moons, artificial fluorescent white moons, sailing over owls and hawks and wolves and deer. But why and what do we want of them? Aside from their teeth that is. Aside from their teeth and antlers and pelts and plumage. To wear, draped over shoulders, hung around necks, tied up in hair. To wear in lieu of getting closer, in place of mud, or blood, in absence of fire and ritual. To prove we are not card-carrying members of the consuming, sprawling, asthmatic allergic 21st century. We are spiritually connected creatures of the universe, tied to the land, the sea, the sky, unarguably belonging just like someone out there was once. Nostalgic for a time we can’t remember, searching for the shard of someone within us - someone who shared our genes in the millennia before we were born, in a time of being free in the world. No job no money no need. Everything pregnant and humming with meaning and purpose. Is that what we’re looking for?
Excerpt from essay by Yolande Norris; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.