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INCANTATION / Curated by Chenhung Chen / OCCCA, Santa Ana


Curated by Chenhung Chen

OCCCA, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana, CA

October 7 - October 28, 2023

Artists: Marthe Aponte, Chenhung Chen, Annie Clavel, Catherine Ruane, Jane Szabo, Nancy Kay Turner, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth

Leave the door open for the unknown, the door to the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.

-Rebecca Solnit


Incantation is the use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as part of a ritual of magic or a written formula of words designed to produce a particular effect. Magical incantations, spells, psychic readings, the I Ching, dreams, astrology, tarot cards and religious talismans are some of the myriad of ways that people in all cultures (regardless of education, social class or wealth) deal with the uncertainties and vagaries of life, disparities of wealth or attempt to heal body and soul. The relationship between art and magic is well documented in art history, from enigmatic cave paintings to mysterious medieval alchemical texts. Art is a metaphoric and permeable membrane between the spiritual (ethereal, unseen, invisible) and the material (concrete, seen, visible) worlds.

Break a mirror/seven years bad luck/Black Cat/Bad Luck/The Evil Eye/

Malocchio/Kinehora/Amulets/charms/The Eye of Fatima/The Hand of Fatima/

Throwing salt over your shoulder/Don’t walk under a ladder/Don’t cross cutlery/

Garlic and Vampires/Ghosts/Witches/Step on a crack/Break your back/Sage

Alchemy, magic spells and religious rituals are our way of dealing with jealousy, envy, uncertainty, loss and our knowledge of pre-ordained death. Paul Klee famously said that the purpose of art is to render the invisible visible. The artists here are the vessels that channel this energy from one place to the other while using traditional or non-traditional materials and often blending craft techniques with industrial materials. Using photography, installation, mixed media, picoté, paint, graphite and electronic waste, their works are a bridge between the known and the unknown, the seen and the unseen, the remembered and the forgotten. Moving effortlessly between past, present and the future, the very creation of their art is as mysterious and intriguing as an incantation.

-Nancy Kay Turner


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