For seven days, American Idolatry will transform the Invisible Dog Art Center in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn into a house of worship. Throughout the week, the public will be invited to view artworks and performances, and partake in evening educational programming, as curated by Legacy Russell and a diverse team of up-and-coming artists, academics, and cultural producers — the future of creative America.
The public in New York has a tradition of participating in collective gatherings and ceremonies, from the memorializing of those lost in 9/11 to the tributes made to Michael Jackson. These shrines can take a multitude of forms, complete with paraphernalia, flowers, and pictures. Never entirely permanent, our shrines represent triumphs, losses, and moments of realization. In addition to these physical manifestations, we mirror our beliefs in action, our bodies responding in rituals— knocking on wood, kissing the rearview mirror at a stoplight, locking eyes when toasting glasses, blowing out candles. These actions signify the existence of a rubric of belief and faith within the otherwise banal everyday.
Shrines and their rituals act as socio-cultural unifiers and signifiers. They function as modern-day relics of memory, creating a lens through which we reconstruct our personal perceptions and our notions of the world around us, provoking emotion and imbuing us with a sense of belonging, a sense of history. Shrine-building can orient us politically: putting flags in windows, bumper stickers on cars, or purchasing presidential memorabilia to mark a moment in history. They are not only a portrait of their maker, but also a reflection of the complex global culture surrounding us.
Artists of American Idolatry will make use of physical action, installation, and experimentation to assert spaces with a shrine-like religious artifice that, though constructed, will strive to function as “real” sites of idolatry, worship, and remembrance of America and its rich socio-cultural histories. Artists will be asked to reflect on what the notion of America and American identity means to them, as influenced by pop culture aesthetic and contemporary politics.