October 7 - November 10, 2018
In the spirit of Halloween, Visitor Welcome Center presents Totenpass, a two week exhibition featuring original works by Anthony Bodlović, Gelare Khoshgozaran, Young Joo Lee, Yoshie Sakai, Semi-Tropic Spiritualists (Astri Swendsrud & Quinn Gomez-Heitzeberg), and eliot yasumura & Aziz Yonuss.
Totenpass, or German for “passports for the dead,” are inscribed metal tablets found in burials of initiates into ancient Egyptian, Semitic, Orphic, and Dionysiac religions. The exhibition uses the artifice of a “haunted maze” to deconstruct the gimmicks and scare tropes of those spaces in order to examine intimate fears and personal losses. Visitors will enter Totenpass alone and have individual experiences with each work as they make their way through the gallery.
You will encounter a ringing bell and find yourself in an antechamber furnished with tables and cards. The Semi-Tropic Spiritualists are calling the dead, and you are witness to the unknown. Displacing you from your sense of reality, they lead you into a hallway of remembrance, where Bodlović’s hollowed bodies of wax confront you with loss in their morbid silence. Suddenly, Sakai’s dollhouse thrusts you into the world of childhood, parental expectations, and adolescent trauma through frightening memories of suburbia and melodramatic tropes of television dramas. In a two-channel video, Lee looks to the chicken egg as the answer to the impending doom that the commercialization of human identities and reproduction may bring. Hell awaits, or does it? Stepping through a door into an in-between space—one that is not quite dead, yet not quite alive—familiar faces from the past make their return to remind you of what has been lost. What happens in the immediate aftermath of death? Yasumura and Yonuss reflect on the experiences of war and combat, revealing the bone-chilling reality, fantasy, and anxiety of our numbered days on earth.
From the core of the earth, crude oil bubbles to the surface in a video projection, seeping through the memory of its discovery in Iran, and its subsequent colonial and global impacts. Accompanied by images of oil rigging in a View-Master and a motorized flip book animation, Khoshgozaran offers a crude reflection of history, while an adaptation of Gholamhossein Saedi's story “Azadaran-e Bayal (The Mourners of Bayal)”—a tale of a mysterious object abandoned on the road that becomes reverent upon encounter, and whose fate leads to unexpected demolishment and violent change—offers itself to be read in reflection.
Totenpass is a downward spiral into the past, whose memories have left us living out our traumas in the present. They say the serpent eats its own tail, that the paradox knows no beginning or end. You are alone.