Ecoshamanism at Leroy’s

Artists: Katie Aliprando, Don Edler, MingYan Helen Gu, Jenalee Harmon, Andy Kincaid, Sarah McMenimen, Lisa Ohlweiler, Matt Siegle, Haena Yoo

Exhibition title: Ecoshamanism

Organized by: Ian James

Venue: Leroy’s, Los Angeles, US

Date: May 12 – June 23, 2018

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists

In the fall of 2041, I took a position teaching anthropology at a university in the western Nevada highlands. After orientation, one of my new colleagues offered to take me to Terminal Annex, a loosely organized spiritual community and retirement center four hundred miles to the southwest. The village of Terminal Annex intrigued me for several reasons. This neo-tribal community was quite isolated and subsisted upon small parcels of land in and around the flood pools. Individuals there focused on a particular type of shamanism, assigning esoteric value to certain former consumer goods that the group inadvertently collected in their nets while fishing amongst the currents of the coastal trash gyres.

Ubiquitous at tide’s edge, these objects originated with the previous consumption economies that swallowed themselves whole while driving ecosystems to collapse. Now treated and revered, these ritual objects were on display within the group’s Spiritual Annex. Upon first glance one would notice braids of useless data cables, plastic food boxes, and well-preserved cups printed with graphics of lost corporate provenance. Indifference upon the shores slid naturally into reverence within the shrine, given the objects’ auratic energy fields. The villagers, initiated as shamans through ingestion and dismemberment rituals—a means to instigate ego-death—demonstrated a clairvoyance about the specific metaphysical qualities of the objects.

Katie, one of the shamans I worked with, believed the spirits inhabiting the objects could be contacted for good and evil purposes. She practiced ritual healing techniques and claimed that certain shamans could channel the energies of objects, travelling through these spirit channels in time and space. Another of the shamans, Don, detailed magico-religious ideas, which were not foreign to me given my research but were vastly different from other ritual lineages, most likely as a result of the group’s special relationship to the antiquated flotsam. “I get the feeling of a certain object, its place of origination—overwhelming emotion. I press it to my skin. It is like electricity, and I know its purpose,” Don said. One of the founders of the group, Sarah, dressed steel uprights in a complex arrangement of shells and aluminum paraphernalia, the utility of which was difficult to decipher as an outsider to the group, despite the powerful energetic reverberations.

As an anthropologist studying similar groups in the post-collapse American hinterlands and abandoned urban zones, I quickly realized the unique situation of discovering a community composed entirely of shamans, as in the case of Terminal Annex. And so I set about considering how I might observe the community more authentically, leading me to Matt, who was integral to the settling of the spiritual center within a former restaurant located amongst the crumbling buildings of an abandoned tourist district. He would often cite a particular verse from the Gospel of Thomas:

If you bring forth what is within you,
What you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
What you do not bring forth will destroy you.

With this in mind, I studied each villager’s peculiar, individualized sensibility of the ritual objects. Haena demonstrated methods to regenerate the dormant spiritual potentialities of desiccated Styrofoam. Lisa looked not upon the shores but rather for well-preserved photographs that reverberated with archaic ecstasy. Andy sourced elements of regalia from the previous civil society, seeking to mine trapped spiritual energies of the last servants to the long-dead state apparatus.

During my time at the Annex, Jenalee spoke at length of the shaman’s dedication to euphoric experience. “The shaman understands herself as an expression of the cosmos, and adorns herself and her surroundings with various indications that she is nothing less than a medium of cosmic power,” she said. Harmoniously, Helen took a different approach as she devoted her time to fashioning nearly identical versions of previously mass-market tables and furniture. These items, once commonplace in the former global trade zone, were now presented with utmost reverence.

There is an immense amount still to learn about the Terminal Annex group. I’m testing the limits of my new employer’s patience with the time away, but to depart without a deeper understanding of the group’s methods would be too great a loss. I must stay.

– translated by I.M. James from D.E. Jones, Visions of Time

Ecoshamanism brings together nine artists whose work examines the consumption and waste imperative through the lens of ritual and value reassignment. The exhibition is the first at Leroy’s, formerly Thanh Vi Restaurant, in LA’s Chinatown. Ecoshamanism is organized by Ian James.

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Jenalee Harmon, A desire to be endlessly remembered, 2018, Archival pigment print in polyurethane artist’s frame, 40 x 38 inches

Jenalee Harmon, A desire to be endlessly remembered, 2018, Archival pigment print in polyurethane artist’s frame, 40 x 38 inches

Sarah McMenimen, Flow, Swarm, Swirl, Follow, Collected shells, poured aluminum, aluminum-cast moringa seed pods, brass tubes, bells, plaster, tape, string, steel, 59 x 22 x 22 in

Sarah McMenimen, Flow, Swarm, Swirl, Follow, Collected shells, poured aluminum, aluminum-cast moringa seed pods, brass tubes, bells, plaster, tape, string, steel, 59 x 22 x 22 in

Andy Kincaid, (Wolf-(Cry)-Wolf), 2018, World Future Society tote inherited by the artist from his grandfather, rabbit hides, lucky rabbit’s foot, audio player, headphones, digital audio loop, 25 x 11 x 5 inches

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Matt Siegle, Untitled, 2015-2018, Found object, repurposed Tyvek, oak, hardware

Matt Siegle, Untitled, 2015-2018, Found object, repurposed Tyvek, oak, hardware

Matt Siegle, Untitled, 2015-2018, Found object, repurposed Tyvek, oak, hardware

Matt Siegle, Untitled, 2015-2018, Found object, repurposed Tyvek, oak, hardware

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Katie Aliprando, Under The Guise Of Help, 2018, Jolly apple, 9 x 9 inches

Katie Aliprando, Under The Guise Of Help, 2018, Jolly apple, 9 x 9 inches

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Katie Aliprando, Under The Guise Of Help, 2018, Jolly apple, 9 x 9 inches

Jenalee Harmon, Tentacular apparatuses, 2018, Glass tile, plexiglass, vinyl, water pump, 48 x 24 x 16 inches

Jenalee Harmon, Tentacular apparatuses, 2018, Glass tile, plexiglass, vinyl, water pump, 48 x 24 x 16 inches

Jenalee Harmon, Tentacular apparatuses, 2018, Glass tile, plexiglass, vinyl, water pump, 48 x 24 x 16 inches

Jenalee Harmon, Tentacular apparatuses, 2018, Glass tile, plexiglass, vinyl, water pump, 48 x 24 x 16 inches

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Matt Siegle, Ἑσπερίδες, 2018, GIF on tablet, Size variable

Don Edler, Apocalypse tablet, 2017, Plywood, OSB, black light, hydrocal, remote control, .5 liter plastic bottle, pill cutter, scissors, level, fidget spinners, toy cars, abalone shells, polymer paint, surf wax, Crayola wax, 78 x 24 x 30 inches

Don Edler, Apocalypse tablet, 2017, Plywood, OSB, black light, hydrocal, remote control, .5 liter plastic bottle, pill cutter, scissors, level, fidget spinners, toy cars, abalone shells, polymer paint, surf wax, Crayola wax, 78 x 24 x 30 inches

Don Edler, Apocalypse tablet, 2017, Plywood, OSB, black light, hydrocal, remote control, .5 liter plastic bottle, pill cutter, scissors, level, fidget spinners, toy cars, abalone shells, polymer paint, surf wax, Crayola wax, 78 x 24 x 30 inches

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Sarah McMenimen, Flow, Swarm, Swirl, Follow, Collected shells, poured aluminum, aluminum-cast moringa seed pods, brass tubes, bells, plaster, tape, string, steel, 59 x 22 x 22

Sarah McMenimen, Flow, Swarm, Swirl, Follow, Collected shells, poured aluminum, aluminum-cast moringa seed pods, brass tubes, bells, plaster, tape, string, steel, 59 x 22 x 22

Haena Yoo, You, stored in, 2018, Rice paper, mix medium, fish tank, and found materials, Various dimensions

Haena Yoo, You, stored in, 2018, Rice paper, mix medium, fish tank, and found materials, Various dimensions

Haena Yoo, You, stored in, 2018, Rice paper, mix medium, fish tank, and found materials, Various dimensions

Haena Yoo, You, stored in, 2018, Rice paper, mix medium, fish tank, and found materials, Various dimensions

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Andy Kincaid, Materials Cache, Progression and Progress (Warm Winter Nights), 2018, Plastic busts, steel armatures, insulated suits, pick axes, lucky rabbit’s foot, rearview mirrors, rope, gypsum, salt, silicon, leather, Dimensions variable

Andy Kincaid, Materials Cache, Progression and Progress (Warm Winter Nights), 2018, Plastic busts, steel armatures, insulated suits, pick axes, lucky rabbit’s foot, rearview mirrors, rope, gypsum, salt, silicon, leather, Dimensions variable

Andy Kincaid, Materials Cache, Progression and Progress (Warm Winter Nights), 2018, Plastic busts, steel armatures, insulated suits, pick axes, lucky rabbit’s foot, rearview mirrors, rope, gypsum, salt, silicon, leather, Dimensions variable

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Andy Kincaid, Magic Realist Landscape, 2018, Plastic head, lucky rabbits’ feet, wooly mammoth hair, sweater, book, plastic tub, 20 x 15 x 8 inches

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Lisa Ohlweiler, The Viewer, 2017, Archival pigment print, 24 x 29 inches

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

Ecoshamanism, 2018, exhibition view, Leroy’s, Los Angeles

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