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BY LARISA CASILLAS
'Your head is a haunted house.'
Sometime during the Occult Humanities Conference this phrase was uttered and it stuck with me throughout.
Afterwards, during a private viewing of Language of the Birds: Occult and Art (which will show at NYU February 12-13) I was able to see what it meant.
Spanning over a century of occult art, the exhibition has 60 works by different modern and contemporary artists who delved deep into their minds and tried to transcend rationality. The exhibition is curated by Pam Grossman, the creator of the occult blog Phantasmaphile and also the co-organizer of the Occult Humanities Conference.
"By going within, then drawing streams of imagery forth through their creations, each of these artists seeks to render the invisible visible, to materialize the immaterial, and to tell us that we, too, can enter numinous realms," she writes.
Language of the Birds is divided into 5 sections: Cosmos, Spirits, Practitioners, Altars and Spells. The art ranges from the visually beautiful to the unnerving and intellectually engaging; from Aleister Crowley’s alter ego self-portrait, Ken Henson’s portrait of the goddess Ishtar, Robert Buratti’s dreamy Sub Rosa and Paul Laffoley’s Astrological Ouroboros, with the twelve signs of the zodiac paired with the twelve stages of changes of attitude toward life--each piece challenges you to feel rather than analyze.
Speaking to Luna Luna about the current appeal magic and the occult has on the younger generation, Grossman cited that for women it honors cycles and gives agency, "witchcraft is about embracing the body," she says. And as for men, it gives them the freedom to explore alternative types of spirituality--"you don’t just need one book," she concluded.
Language of the Birds: Occult and Art
January 12 – February 13, 2016
80WSE, 80 Washington Square East, NYC
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
All images via here.