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THE RITUALS Societal, religious, personal

The Rituals is a unique multimedia exhibition by five local artists, incorporating confronting live performances in conjunction with their artworks. It is not for the faint of heart. Presented by Marijke Loosjes, The Rituals promises to be a gluttonous feast for the senses. NATALIE GILES had a chat with Loosjes ahead of the Opening Night on September 2 at Studio 281, Guildford.

The Rituals looks like an interesting mix of artists and various media. How do they interplay for the exhibition and its theme?

Everyone is performing a live piece and also has a body of artwork on display – they’re all involved in both aspects. But everyone is also coming from different disciplines. There will be sculpture, textiles, photographic media and literature. The performances will relate back to each person’s art as they occur sporadically throughout the opening night, amongst the gallery space. Everything relates to the theme of rituals, whether they are society-based, religious or personal rituals. Each artist is bringing their own inspiration and ideas.

Rituals certainly are very broad in their breadth, and they seem like a fascinating theme to explore in this way. What inspired it?

It’s difficult to talk about, but I lost my sister over a year ago. I began examining the experience of grieving, in particular the rituals around it. As with many artists, I choose to use my personal experiences. Do you just sit with it, do you work through it, or do you make something with it? It’s been a very cathartic experience.

That sounds very painful. Would you mind telling us a little more about how that has played out for you in your part of the show?

I’m focusing on the process of grief, and the rituals you have around it, where it’s to do with the healing but it can also be detrimental, when you keep revisiting memories. It’s also about the experience of trying to function how you used to in your daily life. There’s even a drawback in that, trying to find that balance between functioning and allowing yourself to grieve, while accepting your new relationship with that loved one.

I’m a photographer, but I’ve also worked in various forms of sculpture and found object installation. I also have a background in burlesque as Essie Foxglove, where I do more conceptual based performances which are inspired by traditional burlesque but also include other art forms. In The Rituals, I’m exhibiting sculpture with textiles.

Can you tell us a bit about each of the artists involved?

Circus Carnis have a long history in Perth, and they’ve been involved in several Danger Cabaret shows such as El Bizarro. They’re going to be looking at ancient religious and tribal rituals in their performance – things like suspension, piercing, skewering, flesh pulling. It’s an examination of the psychological and physical strength of the human body and mind. For them, part of the ritual within those practices lies in their relationship and how they work together, particularly to accept pain as a passing state of being.

Some aspects of the exhibition examine the positives, while some swing towards the negative, such as self-harm. Matthew Pope is looking at materiality and mark making on the human body, which can definitely be read as self-harm, but it’s not solely on that. He uses barbed wire in a lot of his pieces, including his live performance. Audiences would know him mostly from his work with Kinetica, but he is also garnering a lot of acclaim for his art. He’s definitely an up and coming artist to watch.

Then there is also Frater Sorath, who would be described as more of a celebration of ritual – his evocation performance is a dedication to faith. It’s a ritual in the truest sense of the word, and a full sensory experience that you won’t see anywhere else. There’s sight, smell, sound, and it’s just incredible to be part of it. It’s a very positive aspect of his own enlightenment, by drawing together the cosmic and the personal. It’s deeply spiritual, and he’s a writer, so his featured artwork is his literature.

What do you want the audience to feel when they leave?

I want people to leave a bit enlightened, or just to open their minds up to different perspectives. The performances are (pauses) quite full-on. You need to have an open mind to experiencing something a little bit different. I know we’re pushing the boundaries within ourselves and may push the audience to theirs, too. Hopefully it opens them up to different art forms. But I’d also like them to experience connection and understanding, in my ideal. A lot of the performances and the artwork will have concepts that people can relate to, and I think it will be interesting to look at the body in different ways, as a medium. I really wanted to do this because we don’t have a lot of live performance in the art world in Perth. We have some, but it’s not that common, so I wanted to bring together people of different artistic backgrounds, with the opportunity to show their work in different ways.

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