Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Breaking Tradition

“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.” -Jiddu Krishnamurti

In every culture, traditions guide adherents throughout the year. Tradition brings order to the chaos of the universe and comfort to a species hoping to create meaning from nothing. Tradition followed without question breeds complacency and voids progress. Subverting unquestioned tradition allows an exploration of the underlying myths of any society. Many depart from childhood traditions when the logic of adulthood sheds light on what may be a winding road of falsehoods dressed in official garments. Examining anything from a new perspective, whether tradition or simply the reality we think we know so well, offers new insights into our own prejudices and expectations, often yielding unexpected and sometimes alienating results.

Aitor Lajarin, a Spanish artist currently based in Los Angeles, is in the process of finishing new work for a gallery show in Spain this October. The title of the show translates to Open Sky. Lajarin describes his work as enigmatic. While the scenes are often familiar, the situations therein prompt curiosity and even confusion. Primarily Lajarin works with paint, though he also sculpts. His sculpture, he says, very often relate to his paintings. By pulling the surreal, enigmatic imagery of his paintings into 3-dimensional space, Lajarin puts the viewer in a position of real-world engagement with the strange objects he creates. Audiences must confront the absurdity of the situation in which they now play a part. For the show in October Lajarin will exhibit mainly paintings with perhaps a sculpture as well as a video. The video depicts an airplane flying across an open sky on the screen. When the plane reaches the edge of the screen, it takes a 90-degree turn and flies on to the next edge giving the illusion that the plane is trapped inside the screen itself.

Gordana Zikic is a visual artist from Belgrade, Serbia. She co-founded and runs an artist run residency in Serbia and is presently working toward her Ph.D. For her thesis exhibition, and in her work generally, Zikic explores themes of New Shamanism. As opposed to traditional Shamanism, those participating in New Shamanism do not have to be from an indigenous culture with Shamanistic ancestors. Instead, they can come to Shamanism in other ways. Zikic primarily investigates those Shamanistic practices involving rhythmic techniques such as hypnotic dancing or drumming. She acknowledges the chasm that exists between those practicing real Shamanism and those who have simply decided to be a Shaman. Zikic’s thesis installation will include magical objects collected over the years combined with small sculptures and wall drawings to create a temple atmosphere within the gallery. The narrative of her show combines personal mythology with those from cultures around the world. During her process, Zikic incorporates cat hair from her own pets in small sculptures and masks. A performative aspect in the form of photos and videos of the artist wearing some of her masks will perhaps combine with the masks themselves available for viewers to try on.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Look tradition in the eye. Demand answers and do not blindly follow what you don’t fully understand.

Additional interviews include Deborah Kennedy and Paul Christensen

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Aitor Lajarin has been indulging in Spanish masterpiece Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Kathleen Trestka explores The Hole in the Universe by K.C. Cole.

Opportunities / Open Calls

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation is currently accepting applications for the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Applicants must submit a career narrative and statement of plans along with their work. Those who have received a Guggenheim Fellowship in the past are not eligible to receive one again. This opportunity is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Deadline is September 19.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.



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