Sunday, March 29, 2009

Altered States Opens April 5th at Load Of Fun Theater

Frontier Projects, in collaboration with Transmodern and Load of Fun Theater, is pleased to present Altered States, an exhibition and live performance program curated by Jamillah James for the 2009 installment of Transmodern, Baltimore’s annual performance art festival.

The exhibition examines the history of collective action, originating in the 1960s with communalism (made families in hippie and freak subcultures), and avant-garde performance, where elements were borrowed from traditional rituals and ceremonial spectacle. This rubric for performance and artistic practice champions a freedom from creative, economic, and social constraints, and de-emphasizes the singular, commodifiable art object as the end-all of cultural production.

The artists in Altered States have all worked collectively and across disciplines. Delia & Gavin employ music, video, performance, and sculpture to explore mythology, ecstasy, and rites of initiation and celebration as simultaneous expressions of creative and destructive energy. Forcefield, a celebrated collective from Providence, Rhode Island, performed live and on video to pulsating electronic rhythms in hand-knit, colorful shrouds, creating a participatory environment of disorientation and frenzy. Local group Lexie Mountain Boys rely primarily on their voices, bodies, and found objects as instruments, recalling 1970s female-oriented performance art, always blurring the line between theater and music.

Spiritual journeys and character alchemy are documented in the videos of Brooklyn-based artists Zeljko McMullen & Severiano Martinez and EMR, a queer, feminist collaborative from San Francisco. Local artist Jimmy Joe Roche takes on the role of shaman and mystic in his psychedelic, pastiche style of video-making. New Jedi Order interchanges mysticism and new media technology, exploring rave culture as an embodiment of ritual performance.

Working outside of video and performance are Erin Womack, Caitlin Williams, and Sarah Milinski, formerly of the collective Crystal Coven. Womack’s papier-mâché and found object masks have a mysterious, foreboding quality, inviting interaction, while eroding the art object’s status as sacred and inaccessible. Williams and Milinski’s work has a similar, albeit playful, quality with a homespun aesthetic emphasizing craft as an extension of the spirit.

Altered States considers a renewed interest in the aesthetics and performativity of mysticism. Through idiosyncratic performance, borrowed iconography, and the creation of “invested” objects and spaces, the artists in Altered States re-contextualize alterity, or “otherness”, as a psychedelic state of being, and explore the secular, the sacred, and the creative space in between.

Altered States opens Sunday, April 5 at 8 PM, with live performances by Lexie Mountain Boys, Soft Circle (Hisham Bharoocha formerly of Black Dice and Lightning Bolt), Blues Control (Siltbreeze Records), Ra Khuit Noor, and New Jedi Order. The event is the closing party for the 2009 Transmodern Festival and will be hosted by Load of Fun Theater, at 120 W. North Avenue in Baltimore.