Supervision | Superstition by Jonathan Naas

June 10, 2020 | Julie A.

Back from Alma, where he was in cross-residency with the art center Langage Plus, Jonathan Naas has invested the CEAAC in Strasbourg this last month, to continue the work started in Québec.

Jonathan Naas, Superstition / Supervision, Tarot d'Alma, Arcanes Majeures, 2020 © Sébastien Zimmermann
Jonathan Naas, Superstition / Supervision, Tarot d'Alma, Arcanes Majeures, 2020 © Sébastien Zimmermann

 After exploring three cryptids figures derived from local folklore in Invincible Invisible exhibition, and to question how the invisible is embodied in mythological characters, the proposition provided by Supervision Superstition is more about how some daily objects can be involved in some strange and dark rituals, invested by irrationality, coincidences, and superstition we put in them.

Visitors are then invited to walk into a strange forest of intimidating sculptures, which the dark and opaque colors seems to absorb all the light, increasing the feeling of darkness and latent fears. In this way, Jonathan Naas inject some dark sacred in the white neutrality of the gallery, and it's feel like we are discovering the burnt ruins of an ancient place, where obscure and pagan rituals used to take place. Geometric form are merging in the particular way artist arranged some everyday objects : on a wall, a set of kitchen knifes drawing an esoteric symbol, stacked tires become an altar, a temple door to another world, or guardian of this unknown world, as the “Moloch” pieces. 

Jonathan Naas, Superstition/Supervision, 2020 - Exhibition's view © Sébastien Zimmermann
Jonathan Naas, Superstition/Supervision, 2020 - Exhibition's view © Sébastien Zimmermann
 

So, except for a couple of little birds, entitled “The watcher”, and a tarot cards collection, the artist has chosen to works with functional materials which the common use isn't to be seen, but to provide a mechanical move, a support, a protection. It doesn't take long to recognize in some objects the superstitions or the myths they are associated to, like the ladders or the witch's broom. Thus, primary functions are shifted : ladders don't carry workers but old fears, and opened umbrella don't protect you from rain anymore ; rather, it seems to be a door open to many misfortunes.

Jonathan Naas, Superstition/Supervision Pentagram III, bois brûlé, peinture thermique, rituel 2020 © Sébastien Zimmermann
Jonathan Naas, Superstition/Supervision
Pentagram III, bois brûlé, peinture thermique, rituel
2020 © Sébastien Zimmermann
By playing with forms and functions, new forces are arising from this simple objects : more than tools, they evoke a powerful and invisible force. Objects, then, seems to hold multiples stories, like fetishes, voodoo dolls, or relics. In this universe, knowledge, as light, is absorbed and enclosed in modern totem. And we, visitors, are invited to decipher this encrypted alphabet made of esoteric forms and magical gestures.

Thus, the artist drive us to question how the visible can be an opening to the invisible, by displacing forms and creating new symbols for contemporary imaginary. But he's also making a reflection on how the knowledge transfer can take several forms, including symbols, fiction, allegories and how this different transmission mode can be used. We can think about how gospels and parables, tales and mythologies was used to transmit knowledge before the dissemination and development of written language. And when writing and literacy made people able to access to more knowledge, how orality has become a way to preserve some important, sacred, or exclusive knowledge.

This communication mode also echoes contemporary online practices, like using and diverting pictures in mème, cryptic sentences only made of emoji, or, in the way big companies merely using symbols like logo and storytelling to construct modern myths around their brand names and a feeling of belonging to a (more or less) exclusive group of followers. Progressively, we realize that even in a time in which rationality and technical progress seems to be the watchword for most of so-called modern societies, some opaque beliefs remain and influence, more than we could imagine, our behaviors. And by confronting everyday objects with all the irrationals forces they can carry, Jonathan Naas makes old and nested fears and beliefs come up to the surface of everyday life, and imagination a powerful tool to draw and reinvent our behaviors.

Superstition / Supervision

by Jonathan Naas
Centre Européen d'Actions Artistiques Contemporaines
7, rue de l'abreuvoir,
67000 STRASBOURG
https://ceaac.org/fr/

See more work by Jonathan Naas on his site : http://www.naas.fr/

 


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