Folks who like to read about and delve into the esoteric prefer to use the term “magick” instead of “magic”, since magic, to many folks, merely connotes commercial prestidigitation. Indeed, magick was of amazing historical significance. During the Renaissance magick was established as a counter-cultural movement in opposition to the Church and we see an interesting type of evolution in the belief in the efficacy of magick during the initial stages of the scientific revolution.
Anthropologist James Frazer believed that magick preceded religion and with magickal systems people themselves believed that they manipulated nature. In religious systems people appealed to a god to control aspects of nature. Before there was a burgeoning of science in the Renaissance, classes of intellectuals had to abandon religious systems, re-embrace magick and then winnow it into science. Magick moves from something pre-scientific to something super-scientific, which ultimately is winnowed for “real” science to occur.
Magick became embraced by the intellectual movers and shakers of the time and becomes the immediate precursor and cradle of science, which, with its reliance on numbers and formulas, becomes a shadow of magick. Magick becomes an underground movement of a powerful cognoscenti class who will ultimately rise up against the church and if not destroy it, at least create a realm separate from it. Magick is the uberscience in which the real essence of nature can be discerned and controlled, before this is abandoned for the more mathematical and surface form of true science.
The three artists in the current Magick Show at Galerie Protégé recognize that science, unlike magick, is often an attempt to control and exploit nature for economic reasons. As the program notes by Alison Pierz point out: “They (the artists) create within a zeitgeist that is forced to address the negative results of our species’ attempt to discard the spiritual and dominate the natural. Their individual ritualistic practices recall art making that hearkens back to the very beginning of human culture while sitting perfectly within a contemporary aesthetic milieu. “
Serkan Altinoz presents work that, as Pierz points out, looks like the images you might see on microscope slides. You have a cross-sectional feel in these pieces which seems to represent the understanding you get from the deep dive inward required to truly understand our motives, emotions and thought processes and how to potentially work with them. These pieces seem to capture frozen organic snapshots of a hidden and hard to reach inner process. These days, some magick and esoteric writing seem to be, in large measure, about the deep dive inward and the acquisition of an understanding of the world through a greater understanding of our inner processes. Science is a type of retinal process while magick becomes visceral.
Julia Sinelnikova seems to work with mylar, filiments, acetate and lights. Mylar, of course, is a material used in greenhouses to capture and redirect unused light back toward plants so it’s meaningful in a show about magick because magick is all about casting light on the possibilities of nature, especially the nature within ourselves. The artist seems to try to capture the essence of sprites and fairies through pieces that are matrix or web like, and which often seem to be a type of spiritual residue or no longer needed netting, webbing or casing. The artist has even created an ethereal fairy nest for the show. Did you ever read Peter Pan? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, lots of children’s books were not necessarily meant for children, Peter Pan being one of them. “Pan” was, of course, a pre-Christian nature god and a fairy is certainly not an angel. Tinkerbell is often more than a little bawdy and far less than angelic in that book. Rich deeply colored blue stones hang as fairy eggs in Sinelnikova’s piece. They will give birth to fairies, not angels, which is good because fairies are what you get when you realize angels don’t exist.
Anthony Mangicapra is a serious devotee to the esoteric and his work is inspired by experiences he has had, apparently, investigating and perhaps even practicing magick. One of his works is titled Azoth, which was thought, by alchemists, to be a type of spirit that could be found in all matter which constituted a type of force which allowed materials to be changed and combined. Azoth was also used as a term to indicate of type of medicinal panacea, a healing agent that could do wonders. In this artist’s pieces we seem to see the tumult of creation or transmutation. His work seems to be inhabited by various types of spirits and at times he seems to be making a statement about self-development through esoteric teachings – that this is not a smooth, easy, predictable process, but one that involves confronting harsh and even sinister aspects of ourselves and our world.
Galerie Protégé is on 9th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Street, inside a frame shop. When you enter, please turn to the left and walk down the winding staircase where you’ll see a fabulous show. The pieces are quite affordably priced and would make a thought-provoking addition to a collection or beginning of a collection.