Long before scientists put names and formulas to quantum physics, artists and philosophers contemplated the synchronous multiplicity of time, nested worlds, parallel realities. Once such figure is Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, whose 1941 short story, "In the Garden of Forking Paths," employs a nonlinear narrative that inspired many later artists.
In an exhibit by the same name, Mother Gallery in Beacon is now showing pieces by three contemporary artists working under the assumption that time is non-linear, reality is amorphous, and dimensions are permeable.
One of the artists, Karsten Krejcarek, has spent much of the last decade immersed in the syncretic folk traditions, magic rituals, and plant medicine of Latin America, making place-based narrative video. For Krejcarek, these new works mark a return to the studio, to the land of objects and writing, where he confronts recent personal trauma through symbolic gestures. "One of the liberating aspects of this project has been relieving myself of time-based media," he says. "In that way, things can kind of coexist and conflict."
Following a sinuous, idiosyncratic path of research and reflection, Krejcarek takes viewers down a rabbit hole of synchronistic historic events, hallucinogens, torture, and sorcery, weaving together an installation that is at once gruesome and liberating, biographical and fantastical.
"I am a firm believer in a multidimensional reality," Krejcarek says. "I find it very comforting that there is a path where things went a different direction—either for better or worse. It puts the path you're on in some sort of perspective. And sometimes these alternative paths can be redemptive."
Red Lightning Bolt is an exact replica of a sheet of acid produced in 1983 by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, an elusive organization of peacenik drug smugglers. Like much of the installation, the blotter paper plays with authenticity. The tabs can be found strewn throughout the installation, which also includes a 1969 bottle of diet Dr. Pepper (an object of desire), which is suspended by a string in front of a pyramidal concrete torture chamber. Nearby, a lab table is outfitted with rudimentary equipment, the recipe for an Amazonian curse potion scrawled on hotel stationery, and the necessary ingredients to make the concoction (hair of a virgin, vulture droppings, and the like).
"The overlap of all of these things is the exciting part—whether pushing up against one another or lining up," Krejcarek says. "If you are splitting off realities one can be contradictory to the other. There is liberty in contradiction."
"In the Garden of Forking Paths" is on display at Mother Gallery through March 24. Mothergallery.art