Myth and Ritual as Transgression and Excess

Myth and Ritual as Transgression and Excess in the work of Fipsi Seilern.

In the background, the landscape: stable ground geometrically segmented around a village or a town by the agricultural division of fields. Within that ordered space, the people: heterogeneous masses slowly consumed by a feast with the deaths, attending the burning sacrifice of condemned lovers, or gathered for a very last suicidal cocktail. From the ‘Dancing Plague’ of 1518 in Strasbourg, in which around 400 people danced continually and uncontrollably in the streets for over a period of one month, causing dozens of deaths from exhaustion, to the 1978 Jonestown tragedy, in which around 900 people part of an American religious organization known as The Peoples Temple ‘committed suicide,’ following the injunction of their leader, the solo show of the artist Fipsi Seilern at the recently opened 1963 Gallery in London, explores the notion of collective thinking with a particular focus on ritual, myth, and belief. Seilern’s recurring concern seems to be the determination of the condition(s) under which different groups of people from apparently unrelated geographical origins and within distinct historical contexts can be suddenly attracted or driven towards what can be considered a priori as irrational behaviours.

Moreover, her drawings seem to emphasize on the emergence, or re-emergence of mythological beliefs and mystic rituals in groups of people evolving within supposedly rationalized space and social contexts such as French Renaissance, supposedly regulated by the authority of the clergy, or the even closer to us 1960’s America.


Written by Camille Houzé


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