It seems as if there has always has been a belief in two worlds, that of the seen and the unseen, of the visible and the invisible, of the known and of the occult. But contrary to the subversive overtones that are used to conceal worlds of experience beyond that of everyday consciousness, occultation simple means “hidden”. It is not, by necessity, a nefarious or otherwise dubious connotation, to say that something is simply concealed. Quite the opposite in fact. For those artistic initiates and creative seekers who want to go into realms heretofore unexplored, the term occult alludes to any process that allows something which was previously obscured to be brought out into the light of understanding, or of re-evalation posited as a revelation. In this way, occultation is very close to what the esoteric writings of Martin Heidegger called the ontological-primordial play of concealing and revealing, or of bringing something "into the light" in two distinct senses, i.e., of things revealed in both the outer and inner worlds of experience.
We can also find many ways in which the notions of cosmology and cosmogyny are intertwined in the twofold conundrum of ontic and ontological experience. Afterall, many of the great occult traditions share a singular notion about the "Ontos", which is that of “the sacred marriage”, or of having traits of both the male and the female in oneself as the ground of being prior to any division, be it biological, cultural, etc. Sometimes this “sacred marriage” is called the “transmutation of the elements” in alchemy; the going-under of “dark night of the soul” in psychology; the discovery of “the philosopher's stone” in philosophy; and so many other names throughout the world's many esotic traditions. Cosmology and cosmogyny might also be viewed as one such dichotomy, placed somewhere between representing the "generative" and "gestational" principalities that are always already married within all creative acts. Afterall, both of these "genus" conditions are still being theorized today in relations to all of existence, without either term holding any sense of primacy.
In other words, the fusion of opposites which is often characterized as the "supreme occulted truth", or really as an occulted axiom that aims to overcome the originary division of forms, is itself, something that is paraded around as the highest grade of the mason, the guru, the magnus, and the master who has "attained" the deepest of non-dual insights. But today, science too is after the truth of what brought the universe into being before dualism. By contrast with the ritual and material practices associated with the occult arts, we can say that all outward, exteriorized, or reified dogmatic truths focus on the opposite goal, i.e., that of heightening the antagonism of identifications associated with good and evil, light and dark, and difference as-such. This is what caused both Nietzsche and Crowley to condemn modern reigion as the birthplace of "herd morality", "reactive consciousness" and the inversion of life affirming values.
But where is this most obviously on display in our culture today? Sadly, it is in the larger than life mythos created by misogyny, for which Cosmogyny could offer a much needed corrective. Even our modern religions still seem to miss these rather obvious exclusions and hierarchies in having created a series of godheads who are often absent any female counterpart, be it Yaweh, Allah, Buddha, etc. The symbolic crime here is that such cosmologies lack any gestative element in their allegories of creation. Everything is created ex nihlo, and comes to frution without growth, care, and sustantive support in the worlds major religions. This makes them all-or-nothing religions, or "all-is-One" systems of belief without any remainder, suppliment, or sense of self-othering. They are monism positied as a kind of absolutism. The ancients however, rarely made this same mistake. They tried to keep extreme misogyny somewhat separate from cosmology. In fact, in many of the pre-modern traditions the gods tended to be many, plural, and even diverse in their interests within the same cosmological constallation.
The uncanny parallel here with the rise of modern art and modern monotheism is that both belief systems became essentialist, acting in a neo-fudamentalist manner by eliminating everything but “the truth to materials” and the “truth of the (bibilical) text”; the rhetoric of “purity” and the rhetorical devices of religious conversion; the teleological drive toward flatness and the flattening out of all the gods into the one “Father who art in heaven...". Of course, Freud had already noted this tendency in his book Moses and Monotheism, which is to say that creative story-telling has underwrit the whole of modern culture... religion included. Consequently, the notion of Cosmogyny as a progessive outlook is premised on upsetting all forms of absolutism and in reworking the supposed place of the “Father who art in heaven..." with "the Father who Art..." creative. Even the critque of modernism, which in the end, boils down to a critique of genuis, is premised on the occulded element of feminine creativity. The genus of onto-theology and the gestational notion of creation based on the great gaia traditions are only reconciled in the definition of "genius" as gestation by way of genus. The definition of genuis associated with modernism is a rather malignant cultural meme based on the self-sufficiency of being as a vision that is unto-himself, for-himself, and by-himself... for all eternity. In other words, both the monism of modern genuis and the monotheism of modern religion are both a postulated absudity and a logical paradox: the creation of the big Other who appears from nowhere, but govens all.
Here it is important to mention that the artists involved in Cosmogyny do not represent the first serious attempt to point out these aesthetico-ethico-religious contradictions. Rather, their work is informed by an important tradition of sacrilegious contestation that is intimately wed to aesthetic contemplation. Afterall, this twofold tendency of modernism and monotheism to be exclusionary, elitist and thoroughly fundamantalist is not something that was lost on the many modern artists who recognized that the will toward strict absolutism, cut off from embracing the full spectrum of human experience, is itself the real tragedy of the modern age. It forms the chasm of a symbolic deficeit we are still trying to repair and replace today, with great gains and loses all around us.
This effort was evidenced through the vast influence of theosophy on everyone from Mondrian to Kandinsky; the “spiritualist” obsessions of the Surrealists; the new age visions of Hilma of Klint and Malevich; the darker intimations of artists like Felicien Rops and Austin Osman Spare; and even Josephin Peladan’s Salons of the de la Rose + Croix. All of these early modern outliers circumscribe the origins of the avant-garde not as an advancing perspective, or an obsession with “the new”, but rather, as reclaiming and integrating the past, including the influence of wholly anti-modern tendencies! In other words, modern art also particiapted in the "sacred marriage" that is germane to creative acts hidden, occulted, or covered over by the dominant definitons of progressive art pratice. Because of this, there is and continues to be two modernisms --- a concealed modernism and a revealed one --- or rather, a modernism about advancing "visionaries" and a modernism that is about the play of revealing beyond what the eyes have to offer vision.
In our contemporary moment however, Cosmogyny picks up where these modern traditions left off, bringing radical aesthetic practices into the 21st century through the use of altars, pin-ups, puppets, paintings, plays, appropriations, and projections both real and imaginary. One can see the work in Cosmogyny both as response to our current religious and political pressures as well as an occulted conflict between our illusions of morality and identity. Adopting certian postmodern strategies like parody and pastiche, we can see how a heightened sense of self-awareness informs much of the work in the show, and that humor is often used as a tool of disarmerment in rethinking the ontic-ontological divide of representation.
But where Cosmogyny exceeds and even challenges these postmodern prescendents is in its effort to reclaim the battelground of desire. One could even say that it is romanticism, and not the kind of neo-romanticism identified by writers like Michael Dashiell or Gargi Bhattacharya, but a perversion of the romantic idiom that forms the crux of the collective project that is Cosmogyny --- and which substantiates its varied pictorial cosmologies. The desire for the other, "the Other", the One, Ontos... all of this is stood on its head by the work in Cosmogyny. Instead, dualism, division, and the duplicitious are all made to pay dividens throughout the aesthetico-politico stagings of Cosmogyny as a newly minted vision of Dante's Divine Comedy, albiet, in the form of performative theater, a detourned video lounge, cheeky characterizations of the art press and much more. We have here, an new vision of the pictorialism of amor, of the artist's loves, and of endless consumation against the prejudices of consecration.
So please join us for a night where the theater of existence will be dramatized on the one evening where all of culture takes part in the play of inverted symbolism, inerrant archetypes and irreverent masquerades. Help us celebrate Halloween, that other word which also carries an occulted meaning hidden within its etymology --- where the supposed “hollowness” of the parade of carnivalesque figurations --- is actually donned in order to let the inner deamon of us all out to play in the world for a bit. Like all forms of festival wherein the unspoken aim is nothing less than allowing the Jungian shadow-self to mingle with our everyday persona, so too, the opening night of Cosmogyny invites the transmutation of all forms, both the sacred and the profane, the beautiful and abject, high art and mass culture, in unlimited measure.
Artists in the show: Hannah Irene Walsh, Paige A. Turncliff, Lisa Von Hoffner, Rachel Goodwin, Mario Munguia Jr., Madison Pennisi, Daniel Funkhouser, and Mary Williams.