Pasadena Arts Council / Volume

Fund: $36,000

Raised in a Pentecostal household, Ron Athey grew up with both Evangelical and Spiritualist traditions, attending revivals, illustrating sermons, tuning to ecstatic states, and practicing spirit dancing, faith healing, stigmata, prophecy and glossolalia. As part of Pasadena Arts Council’s program Volume, the installation/performance Gifts of the Spirit: Auto da Fe explores how Pentecostal “gifts” have remained a psycho-neurology within the artist, in a changed form, long after he left the faith. In this work, the artist creates a “living machine” of vocalists, hypnotists, typists, and musicians. Spiritualist and avant-garde practices (speaking in tongues, hypnosis, channeling, automatic writing) bring this mechanical choir into transformative, ecstatic communion with the viewer. The project also includes a collaboration with composer Sean Griffin. This event will yield text—remnants, records—to be published as an artist’s book/experimental autobiography.