Curator and artist Aaron Rose just opened his new solo show, Cults, at Circle Culture Gallery in Berlin. The show marks the last exhibition at the current location of the Berlin gallery, and Rose has chosen a theme of California's long history with infamous cults. Oh, wait, we do like cults here don't we?
From Rose's essay:
In Los Angeles, the culture of celebrity practically runs in the water supply. I’ve recently moved to a studio space directly below the Hollywood sign. As I’ve been working on this new body of work, I constantly hear police sirens going off warning tourists to stay away from the sign. This got me wondering about what it is exactly that would compel a person to risk injury and arrest for the chance to get next to and touch a very simple structure of metal and wood. The sign promises something, an association with something larger than life. Something that represents stardom, talent, dreams…the cult of celebrity. It was this that got me thinking about the idea of cults.
California has a long history with cults. From the Merry Pranksters, to Charles Manson, to Jim Jones, this culture runs deep. But it is not these cults that I have been contemplating so much. Those groups have been mined over and over in contemporary art and I am not interested in rehashing. I’m thinking more about the cults of personality, the cults of particular social groups, the cults of belief systems, cults of love, cults of acceptance, cults of success. This is what drives people to risk life and limb to touch the Hollywood sign. This is what interests me.
In thinking about this I’ve realized that there are small cults all around me, and in all of our daily lives. While to some, this word might evoke a negative connotation, I feel quite differently. My close friends, other artists, musicians, filmmakers and even my relationship with my wife are all CULTS. The works in this show pay tribute to these groups, using graphic elements rather than traditionally representational imagery to produce graphic portraiture. These elements include hand-lettering, symbolism and numerology, various pieces of vintage clip art and simple shapes.