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Cryptoreal: Art and Myth

Francis Lewis Gallery at St. George's Church (Episcopal)
13532 38th Avenue, 718-359-1171
Queens Misc.
November 22, 2008 - January 11, 2009
Reception: Friday, November 21, 6 - 9 PM
Web Site

Orit Ben-Shitrit – Calum Colvin – Susan Crile – Darren Jones – Rachel Kohn – Emily Noelle Lambert Dave Lukowski – Ann McCoy – Jeffrey Mongrain – Marc Swanson – Jo Yarrington – Bryan Zanisnik Mythology has been an integral aspect of the human condition throughout our history. It is a characteristic that has remained and evolved for thousands of years as we have endlessly sought to gain a foothold between our relentless quest for truth and our seemingly insatiable appetite for the unknown. Mythologizing occurs at every level of human interaction. Most traditionally it can grow out of folklore and superstition, legends that evolve through generations until they culminate in cryptozoological superstars such as the Loch Ness Monster. While we are aware of the improbable natures of the more fantastical tales and as technology becomes ever more adept at dispelling such myths, we are often extremely reluctant to dismiss them. Indeed it has become big business to keep them alive. Perhaps in our daily engagement with the harsh rigors of life we need to believe that not everything is fully understood and some possibility that the legendary might actually exist, is a necessary escape. The structuring of myth occurs on a daily basis and in a multitude of forms. It need not be the grander supernatural examples. It can be built into our personal histories as a way of enhancing a sense of belonging or, if lacking or not to our liking, it can be used to re-write and romanticize elements of our own past. Grains of truth have been woven into fables, social standards and even law by religious and political leaders since time immemorial. Without the moral authority gained from stories of dubious origin it is doubtful if religion would enjoy the influence it retains to this day. War, historical figures, spirituality, dreams, politics, industry, triumph and hardship, all are built into the fabric of every country and every culture with the result that the identity of whole groups of people ends up hanging on the bones of events lost in the mists of time. All areas of life are utilized in the often less than altruistic art of construction. Events and superstitions have always been used by the powerful to control and subdue, to crown rulers (or as justification for removing them) and to attain influence. Even artistic movements themselves have been used to construct legend on a national scale as in the Realism of the former Soviet Union. Within our current political and spiritual backdrop the constructing of mythologies can be an uncertain influence through the propagandizing of the media based mass communication machine. We cannot always be sure that the information we receive is truthful or if it is skewed towards the agendas of the media itself. An outcome of all of these processes of myth building is that they influence how various locations and subjects are perceived. The volatile aspect of this unregulated and cumulative process is that for good or ill, after a myth, whether modern or ancient has become established it is under nobody’s control and is susceptible to the confusing perpetuation of successive additions. Artists have always sought to investigate, construct and deconstruct mythology. It has provided a rich pool of possibilities, from the subjects of medieval and renaissance religious works to the history soaked romanticism of Anselm Kiefer, the sly self stylization of Joseph Beuys and the intimate personal moments of Felix Gonzalez Torres. Such an integral part of our lives will only fuel further investigation.

Though open to varied interpretation the works in this exhibition are connected through their ability to touch on the mythologies to be found in many aspects of life. From cryptozoology to religion, media images to quiet spirituality and the daily minutiae of our lives this process remains a central and necessary currency which eases the machinations of human existence. It allows us to make sense of our surroundings and provides us with escapism when we can’t. It gives us a sense of place and even wonder in an age when we relentlessly pursue often elusive scientific or factual accuracy. Ultimately it renders us uncertain as to where myth, in any of its forms, ends and reality begins while suggesting the potential futility in attempting to distinguish between them at all.
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