Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bringing together artistic practice and spirituality

Nature Morte presents a two-person exhibit by AA Bronson and Michael Bühler-Rose at its Berlin venue.  ‘The Botanica’ refers to the Hispanic ‘botanicas’ tradition - magical and religious supply shops—in the Americas, and includes works, which deal with the art object as a venerated deity, its creation as mystic ritual consecration by artists who act as a shaman/priest. A press release explains, “Invoking spirits and evoking both real and imaginary religions, the two play with the conventions of ritual objects, magical supplies, rituals and spiritual consumerism, whilst engaging in the sometimes difficult conversation between artistic practice and spirituality.”

Since the age of 14, Michael Bühler-Rose’s study and practice of Vaishnavism (the branch of Hinduism dedicated to the God Vishnu), Sanskrit, kalpa (ritual), and philosophy have prompted extended stays in India, including one as a Fulbright Fellow. He is both Critic in the Department of Photography at the Rhode Island School of Design and purohita (Hindu priest) and his work on these platforms influence his artistic production.

In his photographs, videos, and installations his work expands upon recent theories of Relational Aesthetics and fold the dialectics of Conceptual Art with Vaishnavite ritual and image worship. His work has been shown recently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Delhi; Bose Pacia, New York; Chatterjee and Lal, Mumbai; Carroll and Sons, Boston and with SK Stiftung Kultur/Die Photographische Sammlung at Art Cologne.

Bronson’s work - as an artist, healer, curator, and educator - is marked by the practice of collaboration and consensus.  Born 1946 in Vancouver, he formed the artists’ group ‘General Idea’ with Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal in 1969. The group lived and worked together for the next 25 years, undertaking over 100 solo exhibitions, numerous group shows and public art projects. He served as the Director of “Printed Matter, Inc.” in New York City, from 2004 to 2010 founding the annual NY Art Book Fair in 2005. In 2009 he founded the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, which he now co-directs.

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