Ritual Without Belief: Evan Ifekoya @ Gasworks
Emoji summary: 🌊 〰 🌙
Evan is a cancer sun w a Pisces moon (?) if I remember correctly. Even if I didn’t know this, I think I’d feel it. This week’s review is of Ritual Without Belief by Evan Ifekoya @ Gasworks, n it is such a water sign show. It’s not j the floor to mid level wall covered in a watery print that envelops you from your hips, sloping up in a smooth curve at the edges, like a curved bowl. Not just the sounds of waves under Evan’s voice in parts of the sound piece and the instrumental. But also, also also just the depth, the sincerity, the peach pit as you bite into it feels like water sign manifestation.
So you take off ur shoes n walk in through black opaque meat curtains, n it felt like a Thing. I appreciate the æffectual nicety of that; heavy n dense n when you put your hand out to part them they give almost immediately but without really parting. they maintain their opacity, and you slink through like a ghost or a snake. and then the gallery is water, a print from mid-level wall all the way to the end, where it curves up like a wave in a stock-image. This print feels so small as a component, such a gesture; it transforms the space in a way i just can’t describe. all i know is i felt small and safe, shoes off comfortable. It made me wonder though, how easy it is to make ur visitors and guests feel comfortable in a gallery, how transparent it now feels that i don’t feel like this more often. I wish this feeling wasn’t rare, or special. I wish it was banal bc i liked it so much. The curved round wave is in the far room, and it’s accompanied by a ceiling covered in orange, white and black balloons; that and at the far end, a black and white print of a muscular back stretching arms back against white bra straps. I did some googling n i think this print is by Ajamu X (i think?) (the print is ‘Bodybuilder With Bra’, 1990 by Ajamu X; i say think bc i saw it on the internet somewhere n remembered but it took me a while to re-find that info/hazy memory etc). Back in the first room there are two large squares of soundproofing foam stacked on top of each other. around them there are a bunch of speakers all gathered; n so I face planted into the foam n spread out, face down starfish, n listened to this sound piece. The website told me it was 6 hours long; the duration of Gaswork’s opening hours.
This show is enough. A soft caress, a gentle hand at your back. I have been at odds with art all summer, I’ve been more interested in the football, Love Island, healing my heart after such a deep cut, and tryna get fucked hard by a boy I think I Like™️ too much, too soon. I’ve been trying to juggle myself as an individual navigating the Outside and the Inside, trying to manage my feelings and figure out what I want from life, love, sex, reality tv, other people and myself (most of all). All these things in my mind I have had no space for art about the grand conceptual, high abstract theory n that hard, unquestioning, PRESUMPTUOUS solid. This show asked for my consent, lmao. It did! I feel so stupid writing that, like maybe it’s flippant, but I also mean it w sincerity. This show was soft and caring and considerate of my preoccupations. It was there if I wanted it n didn’t bend me to its will. It was enough bc it could stretch n fill ur whole afternoon with 6 hours of overload, but also just 45 minutes. I feel like both experiences would be different but valid n valuable in their own way. n I feel like maybe this review is missing something, like maybe talking about the affect of it outside of talking about it thru myself? But I also know I can’t rly articulate that; it j felt like smoke or steam, like tiny soft bubbles or that iridescent nail colour that shines like pearls. I can’t put words to that beyond gratitude n enjoyment while i was there. I think i remember seeing on Instagram, Evan said something about this show starting from a place of abundance, n i think i felt that. i feel like abundance doesn’t presume or enter, abundance allows you to knock and come in on ur own, but when u do it greets u warmly. Abundance is my aunt’s house, I let myself in, and there’s rice in a serving bowl on the table and something warming on the cooker to go with it;;; does this make sense? i know I only mean that metaphorically, n that is the way abundance interacts w those around it, its format n framework. Everything about this show, from my ghostly entrance (silent and barefoot, not leaving even the sound of footsteps), to my feeling of envelopment in this watery bowl, everything felt like a sliding scale. an opt-in. Theory, if u want it. Transformation, if u want it. Feel in tandem with me, if u want it. It was the kind of generosity I have no yard-stick for.
There’s a bit in the sound piece where I j hear Evan repeating “she is me and I am her, WE” n I wonder if they’ve fallen in love, if that’s the reciprocated energy I feel in the work. Bc how else could a show so easily match my steps as I amble through? As I was, face down in the space, soft like cloud and like memory foam. I was alone in the gallery for a good hour, but even when other people came in I was too relaxed into it, I didn’t move as they looked at me slumped across the foam like a slug or a log. I think at some point I fell asleep, or not asleep but something similar (on standby, receiving only). I didn’t <want> to move. Like meditation, but also not rly that either. I could hear the sound and follow along w the voice but I didn’t have to do anything more.
An intimacy with respectful distance at first, but you are allowed to approach and fall head over heels into it all.
This show felt like lucid dreaming.
Evan's show, Ritual Without Belief is on @ Gasworks till 2nd September. There's an event next Saturday (28th July), an intergenerational convo with Evan, Ajamu, and Rene Matic; n as always I am excited n affirmed by good people doin good things.