Artist Brian Butler's 'Union of Opposites'

January 21st, 2012

Los Angeles-based artist Brian Butler debuted his new film 'Union of Opposites', his most ambitious work to date, at Art Los Angeles Contemporary.

Regarding the timing of the performance Butler notes, “I am pleased to be debuting Union of Opposites at LA’s top art fair and especially pleased that is coincides with the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival.” Spiritual and aesthetic experimentation have played an integral role in shaping the history of Los Angeles. From the occult rituals of Jack Parsons and Aleister Crowley to the examination of such traditions by Mike Kelley and Wallace Berman, the interconnectedness of LA’s spiritual past and its artistic dissection have been alive for generations – in the works of Kenneth Anger and in the founding of many local religious cults. Butler’s interests and practices with the occult tap into the strange and dangerous stories that dig into the roots of LA and its art making.

Union of Opposites is an experiment in ritual magick, combining the use of sound and light with the intent of creating a collective out-of-body experience. A film screening will transform into a live performance in which the artist and his team execute an occult rite inspired by Aleister Crowley’s mysterious Ritual of the Mark of the Beast. In this incantation, Butler explores ideas of reversal and the use of geometric figures as channels of occult power. The work will feature a spontaneously improvised soundtrack that experiments with the effects of sound frequencies and rhythmic chanting on our chakras and mental state.

Butler—who has communed and consulted with occultists and magicians from Europe to South America—explains that “magick is an art unto itself. In a sense, is the art of living in a creative and free way.” Influenced by the work of British arch-occultist Aleister Crowley, Butler believes that magick is conducive to and “complements” all manner of creativity, helping practitioners access different parts of the mind as well as spiritual realms. Butler explains: “The occult is defined as the hidden levels of the mind or the hidden information about how things work…A really intense performance is like hypnosis. You go to a certain state of mind and your presence brings those around you to the same place.”

Brian Butler is an artist, filmmaker and musician living in Los Angeles. He has been included in: “Projections” curated By Aaron Rose at Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles; “Bright Morning Star” curated by Natxo Checa at Galeria Zé dos Bois, Lisbon, Portugal; and the 2nd Athens Biennale. His films have screened at the Tate Modern and the Cannes Film Festival. He recently had his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles at LA><ART, a solo gallery show at Annie Wharton Los Angeles and a performance in collaboration with Kenneth Anger at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).


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