in the belly, 2022

Espace Maurice, june 2022.
Curated by Marie Ségolène.

Photo by Rico Serna.

All the following photos are by Alignements.

Exhibition text by Marie Ségolène.

“I would like to learn what to believe means, and what one does when one believes, and what makes it possible for one to believe.”

-H.C for life, That Is to Say…, J.Derrida, 2000

The summer weeks I spent in Barksdale, Leah and Josh were raising lambs. Those little rascals knew how to get into the house, they were so attention seeking they could drive you crazy. Leah taught me how to nurse them. They would take to the bottle so eagerly – fattening right up! We walked in the woods with them, until they got bored of us. Josh would say: they only get one bad day. I have butchered a lamb, not skinned one, but butchered. And I held one, naked. Struggled to cut the meat off the bone. The smell stayed on me for hours, it filled my car on the entire drive back from some town out of Chicago to the city. And for every slice I thought of the sacrifices that were made before me. No pain is wasted: that is the language of eli del’s work. I have been seeking for my faith, and this work found me. And in trying to write about it I struggled. Because I had to admit that the cynicism that inhabited me was no closer to truth than the religious rituals that I had abandoned. del’s practice is one of resilience. Every sigil, incantation, ritualistic gesture is a summoning for guidance. Not solely for themself but for all of us, and especially for those who preceded them, and struggled before them. This is a practice of enchantment. And so if you find yourself cynical, alienated and hopeless, this work is for you. It is a revisitation of sacrifice, and a call to the divine. Suddenly we are no longer alone. We are both witness and witnessed in our fragility. In the early 1900s, Austin Osman Spare’s experimentations with sigils and chaos magick grandfathered an entire lineage of artists such as William S. Burroughs, Genesis P-Orridge and AA Bronson whose bodies of work were/are profoundly inspired by a syncretic spirituality and an interest in deconditioning. Written and visual cut-ups were methods that allowed, through randomization of meanings, a conjuring of spirits. In 2011, AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs released a publication entitled Queer Spirits, which archived a series of ritualistic performances dedicated to summoning an ancestry of queerness in various locations. Bronson and Hobbs conducted thorough research into queer histories of these locations, unearthing hidden gay narratives that were at times erased or forgotten. Text, collages, drawings were combined in ceremonies where cartomancy, sigils and invocations called upon these ancestors, simultaneously paying homage to them and acknowledging their pain, celebrating their lives and calling for guidance. If I am reminded of Bronson and Hobbs, it is because the rituals that accompany del’s work are both imbued with spiritual force and histories of trauma. Their use of text, blurred by stylistic curvatures and spikes, address specific memories, parts of the body or moments in time. These sigils are a reconciliation with a lineage of class struggle, alienation and violence; a coming to terms with sacrificed innocence. These sigils bear testimony to a process of survival. This narrative is a familiar one, one that has defined queer and marginilized communities for hundreds of years. The pieces that fill In the belly are both deskilled and precise, they are organic yet industrial, alchemical but also traditional. Lamb skins hang from metal hooks- remnants of a ritual, they are adorned and suspended appearing both from the future and medieval. Drawings, coated in rabbit skin glue, are lined up in succession, recounting the artist’s journey in making the work, in tattooing across the country, and getting infected by a tick. The Belly harbors eli del’s confessions, their histories, but also their visions and hope for what’s to come.

Text by Marie Ségolène C Brault, curator and galerist at Espace Maurice “In The Belly ” will run until July 2nd.

Gardienne de l'amour du monde, 2022. 17 x 26 x 12 in.
Lamb skin, tattoo ink, chlorine based disinfectant, floor varnish.

In the belly, 2022. 26 x 26 x 12 in.
Lamb skin, tattoo ink, chlorine based disinfectant, floor varnish.