Soft Sculptures and Divination
I first came across Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh’s work earlier this year as part of the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA, a biennial exhibition showcasing Los Angeles based artists.
I've always loved a certain kind of soft sculpture, and am easily lured by chilled out vintage aesthetics. This show had all that plus a touch of self-aware camp so i was really into it.
The tenor and materiality of this installation was so related to things I work with in my own practice that it felt like work I could be doing in another dimension, or a parallel practice to my own that shows another side of my own thinking. I don’t have moments like that very often, and they almost always happen around really out-there artwork with textiles. This installation combined Jade Gordon’s performative and video work with Whitmarsh’s hand-sewn sculptures, plus a zine-like publication heavy referencing New Age journals, and live programming like crystal meditation and group therapy sewing workshops.
The work was at once a soft parody of woowoo female thinking from a 70s new age perspective and also a space that nurtured the desire for these kind of spiritual, wholistic affirmations. I think sometimes in attempting to find balance in life, we find ourselves looking for strange alternate paths. Ourchetypes addresses this seeking, both critically and from a place of promoting self-love and self-care.
The Hammer Museum says
"The imaginary educational institute and retreat center created by Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh... consists of videos, sculptures, a publication, and events intended to provoke transformation and self-discovery. In their collaborative practice, Gordon and Whitmarsh enact subjects such as New Age alternative therapies, 1970s feminist speculative science fiction, and experimental theater and movement practices, often using humor to address themes pertaining to aging, consumerism, and time travel."
Other than the stoner feminism, what really resonated with me in all of this work were all the gentle interrogations of normative female roles in society, and the reframing of those roles from an empowered or otherworldly perspective.
As part of their installation, the artists created a tarot-like divination deck of cards for the giftshop. I’ve really enjoyed pulling cards from this deck because it brings me back to the questioning and nuanced, female-centric space of the exhibition– plus the card illustrations and descriptions are really good.
Here are the cards I pulled for myself yesterday. It reads from left to right Mind / Body / Spirit or else Past / Present / Future.
I actually really disliked the last card and had to fight the urge to switch, but once I read the description I changed my mind because it felt exactly right for me where I am right now. Apparently my spirit and future are all about “Ghosts, astrology, witch cults, reincarnation, flying saucers, ESP, talking animals, crystal balls, playing cards, dice, pools of water, feathers, pebbles, tea leaves, the flight of birds, cloud patterns. The list is endless”