Their Body Became
Los Angeles State Historic Park
1245 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
May 7 - May 31, 2021
Friday, May 7 (Los Angeles State Historic Park)
6:30pm PT — Welcome
7:00pm PT — Ceremony
In the Catholic “ex novoto” tradition, where symbols of body parts can be used as offerings that evoke gratitude or desire for healing, Laur Lewis Neal will lead participants in a ritual, accessible and open to all, that centers queer and trans bodies. Participants will be guided through a practice of letting go; offering up parts of themselves that no longer serve them so that healing can enter the new space left behind. This ritual acknowledges the transformative act of relinquishing ownership, infusing generosity and gratitude into the objects, concepts or traumas we choose to release. RSVP here.
The Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (ICA LA) and Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) present a collaboration for WE RISE 2021.
For WE RISE 2021 the artist veronique d’entremont will present a public artwork that reimagines their own family legacy of spiritual mysticism, bipolar disorder and suicide through the veneration of human ancestors and non-human kin. The artist’s installation Their Body Became (An Antenna, Transmitting the Message of God) at the Los Angeles State Historic Park takes inspiration from their ongoing interspecies collaboration with feral swarms of honeybees. Borrowing from a multitude of sources including Christian Mysticism, Sicilian folk magic, earth-based spirituality, entomology and developmental psychology, the artist re-frames the story of their mother’s untimely death as one of martyrdom and sainthood—albeit unrecognized by the Catholic Church. Through their devotional sculpture and poetry, d’entremont crafts a personal mythology that seeks to reclaim agency and find liberation amidst patterns of intergenerational trauma.
Located at the top of a small hill is a 20’ diameter circular tapestry, painted with gold lettering that tells a poetic allegory of honeybee reproduction, through excerpts from the artist’s text Hail Holy Queen: A Novena To The Bees. “…but we remind you, O Queen, your mother abandoned you that you might flourish.” In the center of the tapestry sits an empty adobe shrine, sculpted out of a mixture of unfired clay, cemetery dirt and the ashes of the artist’s mother. The shrine simultaneously refers to a backyard grotto that might house a religious icon, but also to the mountain caves in which feral honeybee colonies commonly make their homes. Over the course of the installation, the unfired ceramic shrine will evolve, reminding the viewer of both the impermanence of human-made institutions and the lifecycle of the natural works.
At the base of the hill are arranged a series of sculptural receptacles bearing purposeful statements written by the artist as a form of invocation. Viewers are invited to write their own responses or prayers and insert them into openings incorporated into the sculptures. In future artworks, the artist will engage these written contributions, and the ceramic receptacles will be put to use as sculptural hives for feral colonies of honeybees.
Through a QR code provided at the site, viewers are invited to watch documentation of “Their Body Became (An Offering)” a ritual centering queer and trans bodies and inspired by Catholic “ex novoto” tradition, where symbols of body parts can be used as offerings that evoke gratitude or desire for healing. The syncretic nature of d’entremont’s work—merging spiritual traditions to yield new meaning—creates room for the frictions and contradictions implicit in the gesture of a queer artist reclaiming the Catholic rituals of their upbringing. “Their Body Became (An Antenna, Transmitting the Message of God)” marks an expansion of d’entremont’s spiritual cosmology, as the artist moves beyond the matrilineal legacy of their biological family into an exploration of queer mysticism.
Los Angeles State Historic Park is located on a site with a syncretic history of its own. It was once an indigenous pueblo and trading site for the Tataviam, Chumash, and Tongva people, a Spanish settlement, and over the last two centuries the surrounding neighborhood has been a cultural center for Chinese, Mexican and Italian communities. On the street behind d’entremont’s installation sits St. Peter’s Italian Church, one of few remaining relics of Los Angeles’s Little Italy, where a now-aging Italian spiritual community hold processions and feasts honoring certain saints.
WE RISE encourages wellbeing and healing through art, connection, community engagement and creative expression.Taking place during May: Mental Health Awareness Month, WE RISE 2021 includes Art Rise, a series of 21 art experiences; Community Pop-Ups, hyperlocal activities across Los Angeles County neighborhoods; and a robust Digital Experience, offering original programs that can be enjoyed from anywhere. All installations and activities are meant to be viewed from a distance individually or in small groups, in order to remain COVID-safe while still fostering community connection and collective healing.
An initiative of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, WE RISE is needed now more than ever as the region emerges from the isolation of the global pandemic and continues to grapple with related stressors and racial injustice. This is our opportunity to rise together.
WE RISE events are calls to action, asking you to join a movement to break through barriers and defy old assumptions about mental health and the many related social conditions that compound problems and hurt our communities. WE RISE is the signature experience of the broader WHY WE RISE public education campaign, which is part of a national movement to transform the mental health system and help break through barriers by defying old assumptions about mental health, combatting stigma and recognizing the role that related social conditions play in the wellbeing of individuals and communities. For more information, please visit werise.la
LAUR LEWIS NEAL is a nonbinary writer, historian, and artist based in Los Angeles. Their essays, research, and interviews interrogate how physical space is gendered and raced in community building and politics. They have been published in Dissent, Guernica, and After Ellen, and their prose was a finalist for the Summer Literary Prize. As a writer-in-residence at the Grin City Collective, Neal explored poetry as ritual, removing it from a strictly religious context and reappropriating it as a personal form of healing inclusive of queer experience. In the interactive poetic installation All My Saints at the Rurally Good Festival, they conducted rituals canonizing people in our past as a form of healing. Their current focus is on symbols and rituals that expand physical space outside the binary
veronique d’entremont is a transdisciplinary artist who looks to early Christian mysticism and earth-based practices for ways to claim queer ancestry with human & non-human kin. Their practice spans devotional sculpture, audio installation, video, performance, and an inter-species collaboration with a feral colony of honeybees. Through myth-making, veronique seeks paths to healing our relationships to the environment, each other and ourselves. Their current public artwork, inspired their own mother’s martyrdom and sainthood, explores avenues of mysticism and ritual that center trans and other queer bodies.
LAND’s 2021 exhibitions are made possible with lead support from the Offield Family Foundation and the Jerry and Terry Kohl Foundation. Additional support is provided by the the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, the California Community Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust Foundation, Fran and Ray Stark Foundation, the Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation, the Poncher Family Foundation, Brenda Potter, and LAND’s Nomadic Council.