An exhibition on ‘Ritual’ from the creative collective of female photographers, World Wide Women, was held just before Christmas. I was gutted to have missed it since coming back to my proposal topic on the same theme. However, as luck would have it, the exhibition is now showing at Grace, Belgravia, so I had a chance to pop in and take a look.
The exhibition theme: “Ritual: an homage to that which is lost but not forgotten, a prayer to that which is desired but not realised. Ritual promises to answer endless questions and offers escape from an unfulfilled reality. It is an act of veneration for the bird that has flown away, and for the hope of its return. The photographs, videos, and works on paper in this exhibition tell the story of a woman longing for that, which has gone, and craving that which has not yet arrived. A ritual requires physical imitation, but does not arise out of it. The infusion of pure emotion and true belief is what elevates the act to ritual. The action, in-and-of itself pure mimicry, is simply a part of the ritual as a whole. It is the combination of the conviction in the unknown and the intangible that makes it so. Ritual is arranged in a spectrum of colour and emotion, representing the different stages of a ritual: memory, sacrifice, reverence, and longing. The experience of viewing the show takes the observer through this journey, giving access to the wholly personal act of ritual as experienced by each of the artists: one in which the active body is not alone, but joined by an unnamed force.”
It was a fascinating collection of photographs looking at different aspects of ritual, and some more of the female experience. Considering I have been reading up on the rise of feminist performance art in the 1970’s, there are a lot of similarities even now. I wonder how others look at these pictures? What do different people see in them?
You are always going to like some works and not others, but I thought there were a few special ones felt very poignant and well done. If I had a few spare grand under the sofa I might have taken some home. I think it is the sense of spirit you get from them; distant, quiet, and in some cases a bit psychedelic. Others dark and intense. My favourites are below (photos taken from artists’ websites). Firstly, photographer Michaela Meadow:
A couple others which caught my attention: Edie Sunday, who “prefers the in-between state of dreaming and waking life”
and Aëla Labbé, ritual dance.
I think that it will be inescapable to look at some aspects of the female experience while looking at ritual. Even if I’m not seeking to make a feminist statement, it will be important to understand the context of where my work fits – the goddess movement, the sacred feminine – and not withstanding the fact that I am working in a craft practice very much associated with women. You never know, after all my claims to the contrary, I may even want to make a statement though my art in the end.