NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith

Miami Art Museum. Feb 22nd through May 24th, 2009.  Miami Art Museum. Miami MuseumsAlthough for centuries spirituality was an essential, even guiding, component of art, in the modern era artists have often distanced themselves from otherworldly concerns. NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith brings together an intergenerational group of artists who address ritual in the artistic process and the wider implications of spirituality in contemporary art. The inspiration for the exhibition comes from the work of Afro-American poet Ishmael Reed.

NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith is co-organized by The Menil Collection and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and curated by Franklin Sirmans, curator of modern and contemporary art at The Menil Collection. It encompasses 50 works by 33 artists in a variety of media including sculpture, photography, assemblage, video and performance.  

The term HooDoo, which shares the same linguistic roots as Vodun, originated in 19th-century America to describe religion and ritual originating in pre-colonial West Africa. In the 1970s Reed explored what he called Neo-HooDoo, or new HooDoo, as a spiritual practice outside of any definable faith or creed. The practice allows artists to reexamine and reinterpret aspects of their cultural heritage. Challenging conceptions of “high” and “low” art and of “insider” and “outsider” practices, the artists in the exhibition frequently create work using everyday objects that resonate both within the confines of a gallery or museum and among their own local audiences.

“Several of the artists whose work is on view in NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, including José Bedia, William Cordova, Ana Mendieta and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, have lived or worked in Miami,” Miami Art Museum Assistant Director for Programs/Senior Curator Peter Boswell said. “Others, including Janine Antoni, Pepón Osorio and María Magdalena Campos-Pons, are familiar to local audiences through previous exhibitions at Miami Art Museum. The varied approaches to spirituality in the work of these artists is reflected in the wide range of expression that is embraced by NeoHooDoo.”  

Other artists whose work is on view in NeoHooDoo include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Radcliffe Bailey, Rebecca Belmore, James Lee Byars, John Cage, Jimmie Durham, Regina José Galindo, Robert Gober, David Hammons, Michael Joo, Brian Jungen, Amalia Mesa-Baines, Ernesto Pujol, Dario Robleto, Doris Salcedo and Gary Simmons.

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