Spooky Action at a Distance by LANGDON GRAVES
MAY 20 – JUNE 26
OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY, MAY 20th, 6-9PM
VICTORI + MO is proud to present Spooky Action at a Distance, an exhibition of new works on paper and sculpture from Langdon Graves, opening May 20 and on view through June 26. Channeling our abiding fascination in the occult into surreal visions and explorations into the ephemerality of memory, Spooky Action at a Distance assembles a wide-ranging inquiry into the unknowable.
The show’s title – Albert Einstein’s reaction to the curious phenomenon of quantum entanglement – has been claimed by both science and occultists, interpreted by the latter as a suggestion that not all aspects of life (and death) are visible or knowable. Quantum entanglement asserts that two or more particles may become linked together, even if spatially separated. They can share the same attributes and show identical changes when distanced, allowing scientists to predict the state of one by observing the other. Some spiritualists, associationists and true believers submit the unexplained or hard-to-explain aspects of this exchange as potential for human-based energies – such as spirits or the soul – to continue to exist after the human body no longer does; these invisible energies may somehow remain actively attached to elements of their earthly experience.
The drawings and sculptures featured in Spooky Action at a Distance take as their starting point scenes from first-hand accounts of ghost stories told by the artist’s grandmother, as illustrated by her childhood imagination and memory of them. They speak in a blend of domestic fragments from her grandmother’s home, and imagery borrowed from a variety of traditions and rituals involving death and the afterlife, including the spiritualist practices of séance and spirit communication; funereal objects; and ancient symbols of death and rebirth. Building on Graves’ formal tendency to insert negative space throughout her subject matter, these images and objects are incomplete and removed from their context, and so approximate the inevitable clouding of memory; they offer stand-ins of the familiar and impressions rather than distinct representations.
Einstein once attended a séance, hosted by his close friend Upton Sinclair and his wife Mary Craig Kimbrough, about whose clairvoyant abilities Sinclair wrote a book entitled Mental Radio. The book’s preface was penned by Einstein, who admits to not believing in, but nevertheless vouches for the credibility of his friends’ beliefs. This is where Graves finds her own position, stating “my skeptical outlook places me in the materialist camp, but my connection to my grandmother’s stories of supernatural experiences offers a kind of emotional truth and wisdom that I can’t discount. I might not be convinced by someone else’s ghost stories, but I can’t unbelieve the ones that belong to me.”
About the Artist
Langdon Graves (b. 1979) received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA from Parsons in New York City in 2007. She has had solo shows in Richmond, New York, Tampa and Boston, and has participated in group shows throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. She has attended the Fountainhead Residency in Miami and participated in The Netherlands’ Kunstenaarsinitiatief Residency and Exhibition program in 2011. She is a recent recipient of Canson and Beautiful Decay’s Wet Paint Grant.