De Domo Diaboli presented by Stephen Romano Gallery
By Christopher Ian Lutz @christopher_ian_lutz/
Stephen Romano Gallery in association with Living Gallery Outpost in the East Village, NYC will be presenting De Domo Diaboli (The Devil's House) in celebration of Dia de los Muertos and All Hallows' Eve. Life seems to never last to the extent of its worth, and similarly, De Domo Diaboli will have a short but sweet run date from October 30th - November 4th.
De Domo Diaboli exhibition is prying open the crypt and resurrecting some treasures, including recently discovered photographic works by the infamous William Mortensen. Audiences fortunate to attend in person will have the opportunity to view these works that are appearing after 80 years.
Another treat to this exhibition will be spirit photographs taken at the Camp Silver Belle from the 1930s, where Ethel Post-Parrish, the famed Spiritualist would conduct séances, and supposedly her spirit guide would manifest in the form of ectoplasm. The photographer Jack Edwards had taken a number of images that showed this occurrence, which later was proven a hoax. One of the most famous spirit photographers to be debunked by the psychic researcher Harry Price in 1922, was William Hope (1863–1933). Hope was a pioneer in early twentieth century spirit photography and helped found the Crewe Circle.
The Spiritualism movement had its cases of deception, as uncovered in a showdown between science and spirituality. Interestingly, the rise of occult curiosity coincided with the rise of scientific breakthroughs, such as the theory of evolution. Despite the frauds practiced by certain Spiritualists, there was a genuine curiosity among many people wanting to understand the relationship between the physical and the spiritual that caused resurgence of esotericism. Occult practices emerged that resurrected ancient Hermetic esotericism into a modern form. Orders such as the Theosophical Society, The Golden Dawn, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, which exist today, infused multiple channels of mystical and magical traditions. Coinciding with the occult were the Orientalism and Symbolism art movements, which both reached back to ancient societies. Contemporary artists, from Pop Surrealism to the Dark Art movement, are similarly bringing the timeless wisdom of the past into modern visual artworks.
The Devil’s House.
Dia de los Muertos and All Hallow’s Eve celebrates not just the ritual of communicating with the spirit world, but also has an important cultural context. Both traditions have ancient origins that are telling of folklore, esotericism, and “the old ways”. Such traditions as Dia de los Muertos were condemned by the Catholic Church. The Church has an extensive history of such condemning that is more horrifying than any piece in this collection of artworks. Missionaries in South America systematically destroyed culture through the arts and literature so that indigenous people would forget their history and convert to Christianity. These cultures were deemed products of the Devil.
What we see in the works of The Devil’s House are reflections, celebrations, and continuation of the various folklores and esoteric traditions that still underline our cultures, from politics to religion. One particular religion might classify another religion as blasphemous, or one Spiritualist fraud might mimic an esoteric ritual, but what De Domo Diaboli reminds us is that what is true and actual in those rituals and traditions can still be accessed today. We might fail in our definition of truth, but that does mean that truth does not exist. To quote one great man, “The truth is out there.”
Further reflecting death and life, the exhibition will also feature a number of living, a.k.a. contemporary, artists that include:
Lori Field, Barry William Hale, Matthew Dutton, Caitlin McDonagh, Ken Weaver, Lizz Lopez, Tiffany Hsiang, Alexis Karl, Anaïs Delsol, Nyahzul Blanco, Ra Friedman, Alessandro Keegan, Luciana Vasconcelos, Josh Stebbins, Dolorosa De La Cruz, Kim Bo Yung, Linnea Strid, Colin Christian, Erna KD, Vincent Castiglia, Samuel Gliner, Damien Michaels, Soey Milk, Cendrine Ravoni, Aeron Alfrey, Teiji Hayama, India Evans, John D. Monteith, Ray Robinson, Jaya Suberg, Charlotte Rodgers, Lukasz Grochocki, Vivien Masters, Lena Viddo, Orryelle Defenestrate, Travis Lawrence, Tine Kindermann, Brittany Markert, Mario Mercier, Francesca Nardi, Nicholas Syracuse.