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12 August – 19 November, 2017

Alternative possibilities explored at City Gallery Wellington

Spells are cast, thresholds crossed and astrological charts consulted in Occulture: The Dark Arts, opening at City Gallery Wellington on Saturday 12 August. Taking over the ground floor, the show highlights the age-old connection between art and the occult. It brings together 60 works by contemporary and historic artists, local and international, that explore occult powers, rituals and symbols.

“History has been littered with attempts to shun or ban ‘hidden knowledge’, however it never quite goes away. Certain periods have been open to these alternative possibilities, and we live in one such moment,” says Curator Aaron Lister, “This exhibition looks at contemporary art’s role in this resurgence of the occult.”

The exhibition—which takes its name from the term ‘occulture’ coined by British academic Christopher Partridge to describe a normalising of the occult in contemporary life—features contemporary artists who push the symbolic, formal and material languages of occult traditions into new forms. Australian artist Mikala Dwyer casts a spell in the form of a wall painting. Dane Mitchell’s Ceramic Fields were made in collaboration with a Gwanju shaman through ritualistic encounters. The Liquidation Maps of Taiwanese artist Yin-Ju Chen explore possible links between atrocities in Asia and astrology. Fiona Pardington presents altars in photographic and sculptural form, and there is a perfume carrying the scent of the apocalypse by Thomson & Craighead (UK).

Featuring alongside these contemporary artists are key earlier artists and works, among them paintings by Aleister Crowley, the infamous English ceremonial magician; Rosaleen Norton, the Dunedin-born ‘Witch of Kings Cross’; and Kenneth Anger’s film Lucifer Rising. This is the first time Crowley and Norton’s work have been shown in New Zealand.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public programmes bringing in other practitioners of occulture from music, performance and film.

For more information and to see what else is happening at City Gallery check out their website.