I went to see the Alternative Guide to the Universe exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. It was pretty mind blowing, lots of interesting stuff on time-travel, thought projection, UFO's and future cityscapes. (See Info Below)
Alternative Guide to the Universe explores the work of self-taught artists and architects, fringe physicists and visionary inventors, all of whom offer bracingly unorthodox perspectives on the world we live in.
Eccentric and inspiring, their work re-imagines our social and cultural conventions in ways that fearlessly depart from accepted ways of thinking.
Contributors to the exhibition explore fictional identities and design imaginary cities; they build healing machines and record the unseen energy flows of our bodies. They speculate on mysteries of time and space; create devices for time travel and communication with other dimensions; and fashion new letter forms designed to liberate the alphabet from the strictures of Western civilization.
Taken together, their work conjures a kind of a parallel universe where ingenuity and inventiveness trump common sense and received wisdom.
I found the work of Chinese artist Gyo Fengyi to be most interesting. Fengyi states that she draws to know because she doesn't know. Truth; not knowing is the place to start. It is the place we can truly begin to understand and to grow. There's something distinctly pure and honest about Fengyi's drawings. I love that the artist fuses together mysticism, myth and the subconscious to depict physical suffering in her works. Like Fengyi, I think so much of our physical suffering is related to metaphysics, energy flows and time; time as the catalyst that makes real the narratives we believe in (real or imaginary). In an almost similar vein to this idea, a friend was recently talking to me about storytelling as a way of healing; re-writing as a way of changing our own stories (however fixed or rigid they may seem) It got me thinking about how we try to communicate that which we can't understand or come to terms with by adopting different ways of seeing/ experiencing and projecting, through using our imagination to relay; in both material and immaterial ways. This last year more than ever before, I've found myself seeking solace and trying to make sense of a lot of things (both intangible and concrete) through storytelling- creating/ and trying to connect through creation, on the level of the unseen (or the al ghaib).
It's this whole spectrum of existence and being that is often overlooked (and unrealised) by secular society; the mystical/ the unexplainable/ the intangible- more real to so many then that which is material. I think there's so much we can learn, through just being open to new idea's and possibilities and I really loved that about this exhibition. Here you have these 'outsiders' just doing it for themselves; building, creating, exploring, trying to convey, trying to encapsulate- and of course like experience, some works will always be inaccessible, if not wholly impossible to understand; coming face to face with an alien/ believing yourself to have a knowledge belonging to a different time, practising alternative ways of healing, but the thing is these 'out there' visionaries don't care about that. They don't care what we make of it; their work, their ideas, their visions of the world we live in, what it could be and this I believe, is where true emancipation lies.
I also really like the work Emery Blagdon, a farmer who believes in the curative powers of the planets electromagnetic forces. Predictably, there was quite a bit on the cosmos, and the universe in general (and our place in it). I was sort of reminded of on old poem I wrote on the stars and celestial origin:
a hologram is that what i am? is that what you are? a flimsy coloured shape a cosmic battle scar originating from outer space burst forth from a dying star its particles escaped and fused together to create a hologram is that what I am is that what you are are we the sole remnants of a broken star?
I also really liked Paul Laffoley's piece on prayer. The work was almost opposed to the secular view of prayer being a 'call for help' in a dark place, rather it depicted prayer as an action at a distance, 'a form of magic, specifically the miracle of the bestowal of divine grace regardless of having deserved it.' and 'a prayer being an appeal to the divinity for grace and a protection of the bestowal of that grace on a particular person.' This way of viewing prayer, and depicted through a colourful and meticulous piece was very interesting to study. It was strange, hours after the exhibition, I found myself praying in the basement/ cave of this food joint in Camden; this damp old cavern that had been transformed into an underground spiritual refuge, all I could think about being there was 'prayer- a magic'.
An incredibly interesting exhibition, with lots to make sense of. For a less trippy and out there 'review' check out Laura Cumming's piece in the guardian.
My mates Halima and Safia put together this amazing event for my sister's collective OOMK Zine! During the masquerade, there were beautiful performances from the wonderful Pearls of Islam, live arts and crafts from my mate Hannah and a moving poetry reading from my mate Sam.
It was really nice to hang out and be reunited with many long lost friends and old companions after so long. So blessed to know so many incredibly inspiring and creative people. May God keep us connected forever...
...see the video below for music by Pearls of Islam....