An exhibition now on view through spring semester in NYU’s Bobst Library in the Mamdouha Bobst Gallery turns our pandemic experiences into interactive, multimedia art. Ceremonial Techne, which opened October 19, combines elements of technology, performance art, and traditional fabrication methods.
Ceremonial Techne is NYU Libraries’ inaugural artist-in-residence exhibition, created by xtine burrough and Sabrina Starnaman in collaboration with burrough’s media arts studio, LabSynthE. The exhibition explores the ways we all participate in ritualistic ceremonies, and asks the viewer to participate in the ritual of art.
Photo: Jose Arteaga for NYU-TV
The exhibition’s opening, Hindsight is 2020: Tarot Cards for Working Women in a Global Pandemic, included a newly imagined deck of oversized, pandemic-themed tarot cards produced during the COVID-19 pandemic and a live, in-person tarot reading for participants. The laser-etched, copper tarot deck is on display on the gallery walls.
Also on view is An Imagined Genealogy of Michel Foucault, a quilt panel honoring individuals who have died of AIDS but have not yet been memorialized in the official AIDS Memorial Quilt or its related NAMES database.
In their artists’ statement, burrough and Stamaman write: “An Imagined Genealogy of Michel Foucault is a 12-by-12-foot participatory quilt block created for the AIDS Memorial Quilt in memory of Foucault and his legacy of artistic practices. More than sixty people collaborated on this block. During its development, we realized the NAMES database, like all archives, is not objective. This made us wonder about archives, about who is missing, which stories are not present and will never be told. We invite participants to reflect on themes of absence and visibility as they visit with this quilt block.”
In an event inspired by the scholarship of Michel Foucault, a renowned philosopher and critic who died from complications of HIV/AIDS, the artists invited viewers to record their voices reading the names of AIDS victims they chose to memorialize on sound playback devices. The devices will be sewn into the centerpiece of the quilt, enabling future visitors to hear the names.
A third event, Syntonic Refuge, was an intimate performance piece exploring the science of self-regulatory nervous system responses. Two volunteers together donned one electronically enhanced knitted shawl that monitored their heartbeats then synced them through the experience of togetherness.
Photo: Nora Lambert for NYU-TV
The final event, Public Vows: A Micro-Wedding in Bobst Library, welcomed a couple, June Xu and Justin Samra, who renewed their vows in the gallery. Acknowledging the weddings cancelled or postponed during the pandemic, this event invited couples to make public vows in a one-of-a-kind micro-ceremony.
View more photos from the Ceremonial Techne events.