JOHN FEODOROV cont'd
While creating dead houses, Feodorov recalled a contentious passage, from Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space. The passage describes an “oneiric house”, a house that “[…] exists for each one of us […] a house of dream-memory, that is lost in the shadow of a beyond of the real past.” Feodorov responds, “As a child who grew up in a frequently tumultuous, poor and at times melodramatic household, I took issue with Bachelard’s musings... Bachelard does not account for the negative experiences of domestic violence, child abuse, or poverty. In the end, his description of the “oneiric house” comes off as a romanticized bourgeois daydream...”
dead houses contains an image of a silhouetted, spectral figure, seated in a
chair, next to the broken window of a presumably abandoned home. Feodorov
regularly depicts scenes where spiritual forces manifest themselves in
environments shaped by late capitalism. His Office Shaman work and many of
his paintings depict contemporary individuals struggling to psychologically
resolve spiritual visions with mundane corporate or consumer lifestyles.
Feodorov qualifies these spiritual thematic interests by stating, “I don't really see
JEMA is traveled John Feodorov’s installation to, Schalter, a gallery in Berlin,
John Feodorov is a Seattle-based artist, musician, and an Assistant Professor of Art at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. He was born in Los Angeles and comes from a mixed Native American and Euro-American descent. He grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs, regularly traveling to his family’s land on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. His work has been written about in the New York Times, Art Papers, Harpers Magazine, and Art:21 Video/Book interview series. As a musician he releases solo material and plays with the band Ecce Hobo.
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2007 Temple, 911 Media Arts Center, Seattle WA.
Selected Group exhibitions:
2005 New Tradition, Archer Gallery, Clark College, Vancouver, WA.
While I do not consider myself a “spiritual person”, for the last several years I have been interested in how spirituality is, or can be, experienced through art. I am also fascinated with why so many of us humans continue to search for some sort of spiritual connection, what Freud dismissed as the yearning for the mother’s breast.
Several years ago, I visited the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon, near my family’s land in New Mexico. This was during the much-hyped Harmonic Convergence when people were gathering at numerous traditional sacred sites around the world. Along the inside perimeter of one of the large kivas, a throng of tie-dyed spiritual enthusiasts formed a circle while sitting in lotus position. At the axis, they had erected a plastic totem pole, an object possessing no significance to the native peoples of the Southwest. Their act, while well intentioned, seemed more like an act of spiritual desperation than of connection. It is this kind of sincere yet misguided event that interests me as an artist.
My work explores the ephemeral nature of meaning and how it is pursued and elicited. My intent is to sacralize the profane and profane the sacred, or even better, to complicate the relationship between the two. I feel that one of the most important things art can do is create a psychic disruption of the conscious self, overturning our checkerboard of assumptions and opinions. Perhaps that is the
The title of this miniature installation is taken from the Walt Whitman poem, “City Dead House”, that likens the dead body of a prostitute to a house, “…that wondrous house—that delicate fair house—that ruin!” In retrospect, I think I conceptualized this piece as a subconscious response to Gaston Bachelard‘s The Poetics of Space. As a child who grew up in a frequently tumultuous, poor and at times melodramatic household, I took issue with Bachelard’s musings about the “oneiric house”, the house that “[…] exists for each one of us […] a house of dream-memory, that is lost in the shadow of a beyond of the real past.” Bachelard does not account for the negative experiences of domestic violence, child abuse, or poverty. In the end, his description of the “oneiric house” comes off as a romanticized bourgeois daydream ignoring the decrepit housing, or lack thereof, of many low-income or homeless families. Still, I think he correct in observing that the quest for connection and identity must originate within one’s physical and psychological locale.
On a hill near my own neighborhood, several blocks of low-income housing were recently bulldozed to make room for a new real estate development. I doubt that anybody would have referred to those plain drab structures as wondrous, delicate or fair. Still, at one time they supplied shelter, warmth, and perhaps even comfort to families in need. Perhaps before their destruction, these squalid vacant dwellings even contained remnants of dreams.