Ecstasy Falls is an exhibition of contemporary American art works that explores the pitfalls and pleasures inherent in the pursuit of ecstasy.
- Additional Information -
An active interest in ecstasy can be considered a particularly energetic aspect of many individuals' strong belief in the "unalienable Right … (to the) … pursuit of Happiness." The emphasis on ecstasy over happiness here is to consider the desire to attain "a state of being beyond reason and self-control."
Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa (1645-52) serves as an example of the attempt to depict the ecstatic in art. With this sensuous sculpture of a pious subject, Bernini depicts both spiritual and corporeal ecstasy. The distance that a viewer, from any period of time, might feel from St. Teresa's rapture points to a conundrum for the pilgrim seeking ecstasy through art; neither viewing depictions of the ecstatic nor the creation of such images is likely to duplicate an ecstatic experience itself. On the other hand, extraordinary art like Bernini's can help make sense of the desire for ecstasy - of the desire to take leave of one's senses for an experience that is hard to obtain, impossible to sustain and which, in the end, can even be dangerous.
Today, as perhaps has always been the case, the pursuit of ecstasy is largely a quotidian activity. Spiritual transcendence is not a consideration when states of abandonment themselves are the focus. Individuals worldwide look to lose themselves in, for example, sex, drugs, and music or - less commonly - through means such as secular meditation or the contemplation of fine art.
Through the works of Brian Storts (a multi-media installation of objects, drawings and lights creating a wonderland in the lower level of g-module); Marcy Freedman (a site specific installation hanging from the g-module ceiling bringing to mind both canny craft and the natural process of the stalactite); Nate Lowman (paintings of John Philip Walker Lindh, the youthful suburbanite who became the "American Taliban"); Sanford Biggers (a mandala installed on the floor and a video showing a break dance competition on a similar mandala); Katherine Bernhardt (glam/pop paintings of the McDonald's logo); Erik Bakke (an installation centered around a honeymoon suite bed), the exhibition Ecstasy Falls offers viewers an opportunity to reevaluate the relationships between art and ecstasy and themselves. Ecstasy Falls has been organized by Erik Bakke.
Essay, Erik Bakke
We have just checked into our honeymoon suite at the Falls View Hotel of Ecstasy Falls. Our Pan Am travel bag is on the floor and we look fondly at ourselves reflected in the huge mirror with the ornate, gilt, baroque frame hung on the wall directly across from the bed with the pink coverlet covered with lace framed red hearts. We are young svelte, attractive and nattily attired -- she in Dolce and Gabbana and I in Gucci.
The sun has set. We are in the rooftop bar, after a light dinner of fruit salad, drinking soda water and realizing that the ecstasy was heavily cut or not real, more ineffective than unpleasant. We order martinis. My wife, K, tells me I shouldn't have bought from Sam on Avenue C and should have let her buy from her doctor friend uptown. A friend I've never met.
We have been quiet for a long while watching the green and blue lights play on the water swirling around the rocks below and make the mist of the thundering falls glow. We briefly think of going down to the Grotto Room where the water rushes right behind the glass enclosed bar. I'm on my seventh martini, I don't think K has been matching me drink for drink but am not sure. I'm feeling robust and the falls and the lights and the booze are making us feel a bit tender toward each other. We hold hands across the table. Not having eaten much, I realize I am close to the edge of being too drunk.
"I need something to eat," I tell K . "Let's go to McDonald's," she says.
We have another martini and then get a car to take us. We get cokes and a pile of cheeseburgers. Nothing could taste better.
We return to the hotel and begin to kiss just inside the room. After a moment my wife says softly, "look." I turn and together we see the chandelier dripping, even melting in a brilliant array of colors. We are in a trance watching the sparkling dripping light; the drugs may not have been so bad after all. Abruptly, we realize that indeed there is water rushing down from the base of the chandelier and into the room. I call the desk. We watch the water pool on the white carpet and hear faint sounds of men yelling upstairs. Soon the desk boy appears and apologizes and tells us there is another room available.
The move is in the end welcome as we now have a better view of the falls. The tumultuous water, briefly free from the restraint of the river, is impressive. For a moment I regret all the hotels, and neon and shops filled with worthless things that have sprung up and become Ecstasy Falls. The new room is exactly the same as the one we have just left, even down to the large mirror with the gold, baroque, or is it rococo, frame.
We quickly drink a perfectly chilled bottle of Veuve-Clicquot Grande Dame Rose, brought from home, and soon I am tied, as I like, to the four poster bed. Just as we are leaving the day behind and becoming enraptured in ourselves, the door opens and standing at the threshold is a large rough, burly man holding a woman in his arms. Instead of back stepping he just stands there. K jumps up and pulls the pink cover around her and approaches the couple at the door. I let out a muffled "hey" but decide the better of saying too much and lie tied to the bed, exposed.
The big man is flustered and remains still holding his wife, saying nothing, looking at K and then into the room. The big man's wife is getting pissed off and she awkwardly hops out of his arms and stands next to the giant. The wife looks almost ridiculously short. Before anyone says anything the same desk boy who had moved us to this room comes rushing into view, somehow also fitting in the doorway, holding a big gold key in his hand and almost screeching, "oh, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." He is a pathetic sight. He quickly explains that of course my wife and I can have our room for free tonight and that he had made a mistake and had given us the key to the other couple's room and that if the other couple would also accept his apologies he would upgrade them to the "super, non-plus-ultra" Celestial Suite. His earnestness has won us all over and he whisks the odd couple off and K shuts the door. She kneels on the edge of the bed, smiles with a sparkle in her watery green eyes and hits me very hard across the mouth.
Visuals for the exhibition are available upon request.
For further information, please contact us or visit http://www.g-module.com